Resident Evil Village Review – The Devil in Disguise
Resident Evil Village
Review copy provided by the publisher
A heart-pumping and nerve wrecking decent into hell.
Before we begin, I want to make it clear that I haven’t played a Resident Evil game in years. Mostly because I’ve become a big baby when it comes to horror titles but also due to not being overly interested in one until lately that is.
You may wonder, why now? Well, without stating the obvious in wanting to get munched on by the tall lady vampire (which I soon regretted as you will see later on), I also wanted to see what the franchise was all about since I last played it in the early 2000s. If Resident Evil Village is anything to go by, I seriously have a huge exciting backlog on my hands.
Thankfully, on starting the game, Resident Evil 8 gave me a short recap on what went down in Louisiana during RE7 so for those who are going into the game blind, this is a really handy feature to bring you up to speed.
Resident Evil Village begins with a blissful scene of protagonist Ethan Winters and his wife Mia living their best life in a beautifully decorated home adorned with baby pictures of their newborn, Rosemary. Naturally, that peaceful atmosphere is soon ruined when all hell breaks loose leading to a tragic event including Rosemary being kidnapped.
I felt like the game is really setting me up for something terrible to happen. I wasn’t wrong.
The transition into the next scenario was snappy and tense, making me wonder where this was going and what would happen next but I didn’t have too long to wait to find out.
Resident Evil Village‘s opening hours are filled with apprehension and blood-curdling encounters as Ethan finds himself wandering the spooky derelict village in search of his daughter. Sieving through the homes that are now a crumpled mess looking like the hulk has barged through them in a rage, I begin to pick up items like ammo, a shotgun, herbs and other bits and pieces. I felt like the game is really setting me up for something terrible to happen. I wasn’t wrong.
One word: Lycans. These horrendous creatures are fast and ruthless. Able to jump on roofs and hop from one area to another, you’ll be glad you picked up as much ammunition as you could as you’re going to need it. I personally loved how the PS5’s DualSense springs into action when shooting your gun, feeling the tension of the trigger between your fingertips as you try and aim for those much-needed headshots.
Although the game doesn’t state where this awful and unforgiving town is, I was given some hints that it was nestled within the snowy peaks of Romania. When Ethan finally comes across other humans, I did find it quite strange that they all had an American accent and this somewhat lost the immersion for me that I knew Capcom was trying so hard to keep intact with the eeriness of the village.
Snapping me back into the cold-hearted and sadistic tone of the game, I was absorbed once more when viewing Castle Dimitrescu coated in mist and mystery in the distance. From here, Ethan begins his journey carved out by the deluded Mother Miranda and her four sociopath lords that make your path in finding Rosemary that much harder.
Before entering the Castle, Ethan needs to jump through a few hoops laid out by Karl Heisenberg, one of Miranda’s mutant human lords who’s equipped with a powerful army of monsters. In one area, I found myself dying at least six times when a rolling spiked device came tumbling towards me and I couldn’t escape. Finally, I found that simplicity is key with many of the puzzles you’ll find throughout your time in Resident Evil Village and not to overthink the situation. You will find it plays out in the most obvious way.
Once inside, Castle Dimitrescu is absolutely stunning. The PS5’s graphics really blew me away here and I found myself studying the architecture more than trying to find puzzles or running from Lady Dimitrescu’s “daughters”. The symbolism in the set design is a wonderful touch that also gives you a deeper look into the game’s folklore.
The variety in enemies throughout the game is refreshing with each lord operating in certain ways that differ from the next. I found this strategy really kept me on my toes and never a boring endeavour.
The Duke, a strange and cryptic merchant, pops up throughout Resident Evil Village to offer a supply of goodies to help with the road ahead. This is a great place to load up on everything you could need and also sell off some of the valuable items you’ve acquired while sniffing around. Do make sure that before you sell anything, you read its description and it’s not something you may need later on.
Village’s arsenal is simple and neat, allowing me to arrange my weapons and bullets into tightly crafted spaces. With every encounter I came across, I made a note of what gunpower I would need to effectivally take my foe down with and then placed it into my immediate keybinds.
The variety in enemies throughout the game is refreshing with each lord operating in certain ways that differ from the next. I found this strategy really kept me on my toes and never a boring endeavour. Coming up against Lady Dimitrescu was certainly an experience and a half, living up to all of my expectations as she hounded me across every inch of the Castle.
When she was near, my PS5 began to throb making an already anxiety-ridden situation even more of a sweat fest. What I didn’t expect, however, was how that tall and elegant demeanour very quickly changed as I finally completed the statue puzzle upon escaping the castle.
No longer was Lady D that seductive thirst-trap meme social media drooled over for months, let me tell you. Although, I guess it depends on what you’re into – the world is a beautifully diverse place after all. Maybe grotesque and monstrous entities float your boat?
The battle system isn’t particularly difficult which is good news for those who are looking for a more story-focused adventure without overloading on the combat mechanics. This offered a good mix that allowed me to try out the many weapons I picked up while scavenging and in turn, allowing for more precious time exploring the secrets of its world.
By the end of this section, I promise you that when you shut your eyes at night, killer dolls and giant, gaping mouthed babies is all you will see.
Personally, I found Moreau, the blobular slime villain that you get to meet later on the most repulsive. Capcom gave the narrative for Moreau a surprising twist to allow players to feel sorry for him but not enough to not make me want to blow his ooze filled body to high heavens. As I previously mentioned, I get scared pretty easy and although I had quite a few jump scares and heart-pumping encounters, I thought I was doing pretty well until I reached Beneviento’s mansion.
This place is absolute hell and something I never want to experience again. From the moment you step foot into the demonic encrusted house, things go from bad to worse. By the end of this section, I promise you that when you shut your eyes at night, killer dolls and giant, gaping mouthed babies is all you will see.
Resident Evil Village went slightly downhill for me after Beneviento’s mansion. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it because I still did but I found that upon entering Heisenberg’s Factory, the pacing and direction flopped somewhat.
I found myself running around like a headless chicken whilst trying to fight off mechanical soldiers, a terrifying Propellerhead creature and finding key moulds to open doors coupled with no real sense of direction. The map does come in handy but I found the factory lacked any kind of charm and it wasn’t compelling enough to make it memorable. I was glad to leave by the end after spending way too long trying to figure out how to escape.
By this stage, I also found Ethan to be quite annoying. He has very little personality, zero charm and seems to be in a constant state of shock, even after everything that has happened in RE7 and throughout his journey in Village. He never really seems to question deeply about the events that have been personally brought upon him and why they might be occurring.
Despite this, the ending was beautifully crafted, and in places slightly silly and overboard. There was also a twist that will make for an exciting sequel. I had hoped to see more of Mother Miranda other than right at the end as I think Capcom could have fleshed out this interesting character a lot more than what they did as, after all, she’s the entire reason for it existing.
Resident Evil Village sets out to do exactly what Capcom planned and that’s offering players a well-rounded, gore-filled fright-fest that proves that the game still has the stopping power to scare, engage and thrill its audience 25 years on.