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Resident Evil Village Review

Initial release date: April 18, 2021

Developer: Capcom

Series: Resident Evil

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows

Publishers: Capcom, Capcom U.S.A., Inc.


Capcom has been UNSTOPABLE since 2017’s release of Resident Evil VII – biohazard which saw not only the franchise coming back into being a heavy hitter but also a full resurgence of Capcom as a whole as we saw the release of Monster Hunter World that same year and the return of Mega Man the following year with Mega Man 11 and then the juggernauts that were Resident Evil 2 Remake and Devil May Cry V. Resident Evil VII took the series back into the first person perspective and gave us a brand new protagonist in Ethan Winters in what felt initially like a reboot of the series and a return to horror vs the Michael Bay bombastic natures of Resident evil 4,5, and 6. RE VII was one of the best games in the franchise and a great return to form for Capcom yet one very common complaint is that the game was too scary and especially in VR (which I absolutely loved) and because of this many fans of the franchise refused to play the game. Here we are 4 years after that entry with its follow-up in Resident Evil Village which returns us to the first person perspective and attempts to give us all of the best parts of RE VII without the negatives that bogged down that game for the mainstream; does it succeed? Let’s find out!

Story

Resident Evil: Village picks up 3 years following the horrific events in Louisiana following the Baker family in Resident Evil: Biohazard. Ethan and Mia Winters have moved to Europe and have a daughter named Rosemary and are dealing with the trauma that they experienced with the Eve incident. Ethan and Mia are constantly arguing and have not been able to truly move forward in their relationship and effectively their lives as a whole. Shortly after Ethan puts Rose to sleep in her crib, a special ops group shoots up their house hitting Mia several times and then Chris Redfield, the man who ended Albert Wesker and the old Umbrella corporation, ruthlessly murders Mia in front of Ethan and takes Rose away with his team referring to her as the “subject” and capturing Ethan in the process. When Ethan awakens, he is left stranded in a snowy area with no where to go except towards an abandoned village and a terrifying castle.


The story of having a father who’s willing to go to any length to get his daughter back is honestly the second time I’ve experienced such a dynamic in a game since NieR Gestalt with papa Nier. The duality of the goals of the main character Ethan Winters and Mother Miranda being effectively the same is actually quite incredible and some of the best story telling that Capcom have done in a game, let alone a RE game, ever.

Gameplay

If you’ve played Resident Evil VII then you’ll be right at home here as the gameplay is almost entirely lifted and placed into Village with a few exceptions of bringing back a merchant with almost the exact same functionality as the merchant from Resident Evil 4 with a few alterations here and there. What sets Village apart from all other entries (including RE VII to an extent) is it’s semi-OpenWorld design that actually begs for you to explore every nook and cranny that you see even though the game is technically on rails of where it wants you to go and how you complete the 4 houses; it still gives you many many side sections for you to dive into as you see fit and how you want with numerous rewards for exploring and puzzle solving.


The gunplay and general gameplay as a whole is the same in Village as it is in VII except with faster gunplay and overall tighter controls. You can upgrade weapons just as you could in VII although this time you can upgrade your weapons at the Duke’s locations which allow you to upgrade everything from the damage your weapon does, the rate of fire, reload speed, and ammo capacity.

You’re able to buy new weapons and weapon schematics from the Duke such as pipe grenade schematics and mine schematics in order to craft them and also buy health restoratives which increase in price as you buy them. The Duke also cooks you food if you gather the required ingredients from the local flora and fauna so never sell them off as once you have what’s needed and can get the Duke to cook a dish for you then you can get any number of stat buffs from increased movement speed to a massive reduction in damage while blocking to permanent health increases and more. If you have any items that you don’t need or want, then you can sell them to the Duke. Each time you defeat a boss you are given a crystalized essence of them of which you can sell for a high price which makes getting more items from the Duke that much easier.


Another important thing to do as you progress in the game is to make sure you purchase bigger weapon cases as they become available from the Duke (usually after every one or two boss fights) as you’ll need to manage your loadouts and items effectively since you’ll never know what you’ll run into next.

You get a wide range of weapons from various pistols to shotguns to grenades and even the series staple overpowered yet limited available ammo magnum to use as you continue in the game. Each weapon fires very differently and based on where you aim will also determine how much damage you’ll end up doing to the enemy. Given how agile enemies are in this game, I’d always recommend aiming for their legs to drop them first and then going for headshots due to the fact that enemies tend to bob and weave their heads to make sure that you don’t get headshots in. I think this is also a reason that this game isn’t VR compatible because the amount of movement from enemies compared to RE VII is automatically increased which could’ve been very difficult to deal with in the first-person perspective.


I did find that Village is not at all a challenging game even up to the final boss (save for the lycan introduction) as enemies are relatively easy to kill although I do think the game compensates for their easiness with having plentiful enemies to deal with at a given moment. You are constantly given ammo and money to buy additional ammo from the Duke as you progress through the game especially if you explore all the nooks and crannies to find more stuff.


The pacing of the game is rock solid as you’ll never really run into any slow points in the game except for the beginning of the game and the House Beneviento section which were done for plot reasons. Its like being on the worlds best rollercoaster ride that never lets up all the way to the end and unlike other Resident Evil games that usually fall flat at the end of the game; Village continues on incredibly strongly with better and better environments, enemies, puzzles, challenges, and more to keep you on your toes!


Also, this game brings back The Mercenaries mode. NUFF SAID!

Graphics

This game looks simply stunning on PlayStation 5 with some amazing HDR and Ray Tracing going on with 4K visuals and a framerate that fluctuates from 60fps to 45fps. I would have preferred to have a locked 60fps on PS5 as it is on Xbox Series X and PC, however, I cannot complain too much as it still has solid performance all around. From the snow effects to the fog and wind and more; RE Villlage does not at all disappoint in creating one of the most visually stunning games of this generation.


We all know the character everyone is lusting after being Alcina Dimistrcu and all of her 9’ 7” glory; yet she isn’t the only amazing looking character in this game. There are several characters from Heisenberg to Donna Beneviento to the best looking of all; Chris “Boulder Punching” Redfield who actually looks like Chris this time around compared to RE7. There are so many details in the character models from their hair to the clothing and even the details in the clothing. The Duke……WHAT CAN I SAY ABOUT THIS LOVABLE INSANELY OBEASE BIG BOY!? The Duke is such an amazing character both in his design and in how he is as a character overall.

The one area of this game that got a massive upgrade from RE7 is in the variety of enemies that you end up facing since you aren’t fighting the molded and are instead fighting everything from lycans to Frankenstein-esque walking dead to literal sword wielding walking dead and more.


During combat, You’ll see that when you shoot enemies with your gun or slice them with your knife that their blood will end up on your weapon and hands and its such a great little attention to detail that so many games these days just don’t do at all. Weapon reloading is incredibly realistic even down to when you upgrade the reload speed and end up watching how Ethan goes on to reload his guns in a faster more tactilely realistic way.


The most stand out of levels in this game have got to be House Beneviento and Heisenbergs Factory as they are the most atmospheric locations that you will end up in past Castle Dimistcru.

Audio

The music in this game is so good at setting the terrifying tone of dread that you will end up feeling as you progress through the game especial in areas that like to turn off the lights like House Beneviento and Heisenberg’s factory. When walking around in these areas, there are times when you will cut a corner and the music will just cease to play and then as you continue down the long winding corridors the music will suddenly kick in with a frantic horror filled melody which will continue to put you on edge.


When outside, the environments have very effective ambient sounds with a great number of sounds coming from the wind, running waters and babbling brooks, wildlife, and of course the monsters you’ll end up facing.


The voice acting in this game is seriously good especially from characters like the Duke and Mother Miranda being some of the best with the voice of Alcina Dimistrcu being the most amazing and standout. The voice of Heisenberg is such a great performance as he has such a presence about him and pulls of a very Nicholas Cage style delivery and cadence for the character. One voice that shocks me is the decision to change yet again the voice of Chris Redfield who is done by none other than Jeff Schine who previously voiced Carlos in RE3 Remake and voiced Captain America in Marvel’s Avengers. Jeff’s performance of Chris is stellar as he definitely delivers a more grizzled and gruffer Chris that’s seen a lot of horrors in life.

Downsides

The MAIN downside to this game is the one epic part of the game and that’s when you go down the elevator for House Beneviento. That section alone is one of the best parts of any Resident Evil game ever and yet after the first time experiencing it, the luster of it goes away rather quickly as you come to realize it is only a 15-minute section that is effectively scripted and once you’ve gotten past the first shocker of dealing with it you’ll want to skip it entirely and unfortunately there is no option too and it can make the game feel like it is dragging.

Another section of the game that feels bogged down is the introduction of the game as well as the beginning part of the Village which is another scripted set of events that are rather slow starting. Dealing with the intro part with the lycans is tough to deal with because there is no clear-cut idea of where to go and what to do especially with its incredibly claustrophobic point of view and how slow and sometimes clunky the game feels when you begin and how intentionally off the aiming and firing of the pistol is in this section.


Another downside in my opinion is the fact that this game, with a few exceptions, shies away from actual horror and is way more action oriented. It makes sense given the context of the story, however, it is a bit of a letdown considering how eerily and terrifying VII was and how perfectly Capcom nailed “survival horror” in that entry only to go back to a rather campy action game that is essentially a retread of RE4 due to complaints from gamers. I can understand that you want to address issues that fans can have with games, what I don’t understand is why you would change your formula for your game just because the folks who won’t play the previous game demand the change be made.


Aside from those nitpicks, the game is a solid go through and through.

The Wrapup

Resident Evil Village is one of the absolute best games of 2021 and is yet another title to make it into my top 10 games of the year. It nails it in so many categories from gameplay to narrative and more and even with a slow start and a mid-game slowdown in one of the houses, Village remains a top tier game through and through! With incredible gameplay, stunning high fidelity visuals, an excellent OST that’s atmospheric, top tier voice acting, and a narrative that hooks you start to finish; Resident Evil Village is a game YOU MUST PLAY!