After playing “Resident Evil Village,” I found myself asking if anything was cut or did the story satisfy what I wanted from a once known franchise for Zombies and evil corporations.
On the one hand, I was confused because Capcom made me sympathize and relate with the characters. To note is a major key element of what made the series stand out and flourish for 25 years.
For example, I loved how the game felt like another chapter in Ethan Winter’s, the main character of the game, journey. It felt rewarding to see Ethan settle down and experience the family life he dreamt of after everything transpired in the house of misery from “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard,” the last game Winters starred in. But then again, nothing ever stays quiet and cozy in this franchise.
However, I raise the question by asking is this Ethan’s narrative or is it ours because to note the gameplay occurs in the first person. This means the player then becomes the protagonist and witnesses and experiences everything unfolding on screen.
Of course, the thing about the first person is that even though we are the character, we still feel and hear the protagonist express their thoughts and comment on what’s occurring, but the player does the same. So in simpler terms, it’s like both the player and character are the same.
Though, to an extent, we are left to our thoughts because this series is known for being highly scripted, but then again, all games are lately. Now, if being honest, I feel the transition to first-person for a franchise once revered for third is a great motive to pull in a fresh new audience and retain the ravenous fan base.
To note, Village is a dark and sprawling semi-open world sandbox that throws a few surprises for the casual and die-hard fan while staying original with the execution of the product.
I felt this was an intelligent decision by Capcom to showcase a sense of respect and creative freedom by pulling on other titles in the franchise and revealing what made those a success at the time of launch. It was clear to notice that gameplay felt reflective of Resident Evil 4; RE: Revelations 2 and RE 7: Biohazard.
Of course, one thing to mention is the village is a character in itself. You meet all the characters who reside there, but Capcom brings them to life and makes them feel human. Each NPC (non-playable character) has motivation and driving factors that elevate them to being organic and realistic.
The mystery of being locked in an old, outdated environment where the locals are subjected to believe in a cult-like Mariah is just terrifying to muster. Only to embark on a journey looking for your child, which invokes a sense of thriller and a justified motive. You see the weather evolve with you and get chills seeing the peeling wallpaper showing decay or hearing the creaky wooden windows in the distance immediately causing to send shivers down your spine.
The studio made it clear that this was a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. To those who don’t know Biohazard was the journey of Ethan Winters traveling to Dulvey, Louisiana to save his wife Mia who has missing for 3 years from the mysterious and psychotic Baker family, but not everything is what it seems.
To note, respecting the past and functional elements from other games conveys to the player that Capcom truly cares about the well-being of this fabled franchise, especially as it looks forward to the future. The creative decision by the studio was a bold choice, but it paid off because it left enough amble room to feel fresh and similar to other titles in the historic franchise.
I noticed the story didn’t crumble from the weight of nostalgia in Chris Redfield or the ominous callbacks to earlier installments in the series. To note, hard-core fans of the franchise will remember that he was a household name since the franchise’s inception 25 years ago.
Those who don’t know Resident Evil first appeared on the golden days of the Playstation One and debuted with the remedial tank controls, which are thankfully a relic of the past.
One thing about Village that deserves praise is the story and how it fits into the larger world. I was honestly impressed with the subtle references and where the timeline truly lines up. To note, Chris’s inclusion in the spotlight as a villain was genius, which made me respect how he was portrayed in this title from past appearances.
Now let me be clear I did enjoy the 9-10 hour thriller narrative with an accent for the horror genre. Of course, to note, a few portions of the game were scarier than others, but some things could have been fixed up and improved. In addition to the minor but noticeable flaws that I experienced through the playthrough, The story was tight-knit and a little predictable, but if being honest, it felt human.
I felt a variety of emotions take me over, and some parts did make me feel uncomfortable, which in my eyes proved to me that Capcom knew what button to push. I mean, it’s a horror franchise, but I did long for more, and when the story gets going, it hooks you and doesn’t let you go till the credits roll. I loved seeing the artistic freedom from the Tim Burton child’s tale symbolic of the experience.
In addition to the freedom that Capcom put on display with Biohazard, I noticed Village felt symbolic and reminiscent of the Legend of Zelda franchise or borrowed from other fabled calls to action titles. There are four dungeons that the player has to visit throughout the game to proceed in the story, but here’s where things get interesting because each environment feels unique and fresh from each other. Nothing ever feels the same or uninspired, and I enjoy when developers exude passion and then gameplay reflects their hard work.
We embark to a castle brimming with dimly lit candles and accompanied by the fragrance of nothing but blood and death. It was scary, terrifying, and straight out of a Dracula film. The dungeon will make your skin crawl, and to reveal any more would take away from the integrity of the experience.
The best way to describe it was a “Castlevania-filled” hysteria of slowly planning out steps, so you don’t run into Lady Dimitrescu and her nightmare-inducing daughters. For example, hearing her soundtrack and cadence echo in the gothic halls was reminiscent of Mr. X and Nemesis from RE 2 & 3 who was notoriously known for stalking the player.
Looking back at that section, I remember gripping the control tightly and feeling my heart beating to the point of the insanity about to ensue, only to see a nine-foot-tall woman crouch and enter through a doorway. Another section felt reminiscent of the Evil Within from Bethesda and oozed straight horror from the creepy decor and ominous music.
Without going further into spoilers, it was clear that Capcom took a few risks with this title, other than a few texture pop-outs and a quick story that hooks you till the credits, needless to say, delivered. I wish some characters were in it longer, but I understood why they chose the length they did. Still, in a day and age where most of the general audience are working or in school, it’s not crazy to imagine a game being 9-11 hours, primarily if the experience and gameplay are well written, cohesive, and enjoyable principally then your golden.
As of now, Resident Evil Village gets a 9/10 or 4.5 Stars. I look forward to what Capcom reveals next and if it will pull from the darkest corners of the human mind. Of course, when that day comes, I’ll be back to embrace the horror and unveil the mystery.