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Resident Evil Village

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: May 7, 2021

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PS5 Review - 'Resident Evil: Village'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on May 10, 2021 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Experience survival horror like never before in Resident Evil Village, which will elevate each desperate fight to survive by showcasing the most realistic and terrifying graphics to date.

Buy Resident Evil: Village

Resident Evil is perhaps the horror franchise, and it features zombies and monsters aplenty, but it's a series that can go from desperate, terrified flailing to your protagonist suplexing monsters and punching boulders. Resident Evil 7 was a game that had its share of silly moments, but was a return more or less to the horror-leaning aspect of the franchise. Perhaps that makes it fitting that Resident Evil: Village — the "VIII" in the title is highlighted — swings in the opposite direction and goes all-in on the absurdity mixed with horror that games like Resident Evil 4 had fully embraced.

Village is set a few years after Resident Evil 7, and it finds Ethan Winters and his wife Mia gradually recovering from their experiences in the prior title. They have a daughter Rose and are leaving relatively peaceful lives — until series protagonist Chris Redfield inexplicably shows up, kills Mia, and kidnaps Rose and Ethan. Ethan awakens after the transport carrying him crashes, and he finds himself in a distant village full of horrifying creatures. His daughter is also there, and he must find and rescue her and figure out why old Boulder-Punching Redfield decided to ruin his life.


Village is nuts. It's in a headlong competition for Resident Evil 6 for the most bonkers game in the franchise, and I think it comes out ahead. One of the earliest scenes in the game involves Ethan being tied up and watching an evil angel, a vampire, a haunted doll, a bloated frog-person and a snarky Magneto arguing with one another while surrounded by werewolves. That's the baseline bonkers you can expect from the game. Sometimes the insanity works, and sometimes it doesn't. I laughed more often than I was frightened, which is admittedly still enjoyment, but if you're expecting horror, you'll probably be disappointed except for a couple of specific sequences.

One particular thing that weakens the game is Ethan's superpowers. If you played RE7, you may recall that Ethan loses a hand in the opening but has it back shortly after, and there's one easy-to-miss optional scene where he reattaches his leg with a dose of healing potion. Well, that is back in full force in Village. Ethan is effectively Wolverine, so he can be shot, stabbed, lose limbs, and more without flinching. I don't mean that just in gameplay. It happens within the story, and it's just hard to be frightened when your character gets a hand lopped off and casually reattaches it with a splash of healing goo.

One thing that needs to be mentioned is that RE8 is very much an homage to Resident Evil 4. In a lot of ways, it feels like what you'd get if you made a soft reboot of the game in the first-person perspective. The core design ideas are all there, and the parallels are many. It doesn't matter if you're talking about the mysterious gun-selling merchant, the village where you have to survive a horde of possessed enemies, or the castle full of robe-wearing variations on the standard foe; there's a real sense of RE4 remix here. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the game does enough to differentiate itself to avoid feeling like a clone or copy. However, if you enjoyed RE7's relative back-to-basics approach, you might be in for a disappointment. Village takes a full-throated dive back into the sheer insanity for which later entries in the series are known.

The core controls and mechanics in RE8 are basically identical to those in RE7. It's effectively a classic Resident Evil in first-person view, with all of the mechanics you'd expect from that. Most of the big things from RE7, including the blocking mechanics, make a return. If anything, blocking is more important than ever, since the difference between blocked and unblocked damage is fairly significant. It's just as implausible to nullify damage from a hammer bigger than Ethan's entire body by holding up your hands, but darn it, it works.


Where Village differs is that it is significantly more action-heavy. You'll spend a lot more time fighting with heavier weaponry than in the previous game. The enemies are also more action-oriented, with the basic Lycan foes being functionally identical to the Ganado in most ways that matter. Ammo is potentially tighter than in RE4, but you still have more than enough to blast everything that moves with ammo to spare. It's actually more in line with RE7's Joe Baker DLC than RE7 itself.

This is one area where I feel like RE8 doesn't go far enough. RE4 went all-in on action, but it also changed up its mechanics to compensate for that, rewarding players for getting in close and being particularly accurate with high-power melee attacks. Village lacks that, so it feels less rewarding to fight similar foes. The core gameplay isn't that much different, but shooting an enemy in the head and then kicking them into the crowd behind them feels better than shooting an enemy in the head twice.

To its credit, Village isn't lacking in variety. There are multiple major areas of the game, and each has a distinct feel. One is a haunted castle, another a spooky doll-filled house, and another is a terrifying factory full of biomechanical superzombies. Not every area hits the mark, but they provide enough variety that I never got bored. It goes a long way toward making Village fun because I was excited to see what fresh insanity waited around the next corner. I never felt like any area was too short or not explored enough, and the pacing is quite strong.

Village also maintains RE4's focus on hidden quests and treasures. In the case of Village, the game is centered around the, well, village, which serves as a simple hub area. You access the various areas of the game by unlocking doors and finding passages, and you can use items and keys from those areas to find hidden puzzles or boss fights that reward you with high-value items or new weapons. You can hunt animals to boost Ethan's stats and find bits of lore that foreshadows later events. It's not an open-world game by any means, but it encourages you to backtrack and explore in a way that is delightfully reminiscent of the original Resident Evil.


Village hits a good balance of difficulty. Early on, you'll swim in ammo and resources, but as the game progresses, you'll gradually have less available, especially if you don't do any side-questing. You'll never be in danger of running dry, but when you go from having 100 rounds of handgun ammo and 50 shotgun shells to 30 and 10, it feels more intense. That said, most of the enemies are rather easy, and if you're properly blocking and dodging, you can win most fights.

There's also a nice amount of extra content. The Mercenaries minigame makes its long-awaited return to the franchise, and although it's pretty fun, it's not as good as its RE4 and later counterparts. You only have a single playable character, and you're tasked with going through bite-sized chunks of the game's areas, killing things as quickly as possible and finding blue orbs for temporary stat boosts. It's a fun way to spend time but lacks the depth and variety that made the other Mercenary modes so fun. There are harder challenge modes and fun unlockable items (up to and including an actual lightsaber) that encourage players to go through the game again.

One area where Village shines is in its top-notch visuals. The game looks breathtaking and does a lot with its style to make each area feel properly spooky. Being trapped in an underground maze while being stalked by a mysterious something is a lot spookier when the darkness seems to end inches in front of your face, and the foaming howling fanged maws of the Lycan feel brutally terrifying. It's probably the best-looking Resident Evil to date and runs like a dream on the PS5. The music is good if not super memorable, and the voice acting returns to the realm of goofy and cheesy after the subdued work in the Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 remakes. It fits the tone of the game but detracts from the horror.

Overall, Resident Evil: Village is a solid entry into the franchise. It isn't quite up to the sheer excellence of Resident Evil 2 or Resident Evil 4, but it has a lot of genuinely fun moments and solid gameplay. The only thing that might hold it back is that it returns to the ridiculousness that Resident Evil loves to embrace, and that might disappoint fans who were hoping for something more grounded. If you're a Resident Evil fan who has stuck with the series through Alfred Ashford and Jake Muller, then you'll probably feel right at home with Village.

Score: 8.5/10



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