Paint The Town Red
When it was released in 2017, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard proved to be a spectacular return to form for Capcom’s iconic survival horror franchise. Righting the wrongs of its much-maligned, action-heavy predecessor Resident Evil 6, Ethan Winters’ tour of a run-down mansion on the Lousiana bayou was a masterclass in terror. It had it all: an unforgettable cast of characters, clever puzzles, and an atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a knife. It was the kind of game that works its way deep into your head and takes control of you, like some weird, fungal superorganism.
Love Capcom as I do, I’ll be the first to accuse the developer of resting on its laurels a bit too often, as evidenced by roughly a billion Street Fighter and Mega Man sequels and remakes over the years. So when I learned Resident Evil Village‘s DNA shared more in common with Resident Evil 4 than the previous game, I was a little concerned. Delighted! But concerned. After all, Capcom could have easily given fans of the franchise more of the same, and they would have eagerly gobbled it up like the undead at an all-you-can-eat brains buffet. But to attempt to recapture the essence of Resident Evil 4–one of the best games of all time–well, that takes some boulder-punching bravado.
Thankfully, after murdering my way through hordes of Lycans and other ghastly creatures, I’m here to report that Capcom has mostly hit their mark. Though Resident Evil Village isn’t quite as memorable as the game that inspired it, it does a fine job of blending the best parts of Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil 4 to create an irresistible nightmare no fan of the series should miss.
Resident Evil Village‘s story begins a couple of years after the events of the previous game. With Eveline destroyed, Ethan Winters, his wife Mia, and young daughter Rose have settled into a new life in eastern Europe. Sadly, this cozy existence is short-lived. Mere minutes into the game, all hell breaks loose. And, without giving any spoilers, things get pretty desperate for Ethan as he’s forced to explore an ominous mountain village teeming with freakish inhabitants that don’t take too kindly to uninvited visitors.
If you’ve played Resident Evil 4 before, this new setting will feel very familiar. From its ramshackle dwellings to the imposing Gothic fortress that looms in the distance, the village and its surrounding locales closely follow the formula of Capcom’s 2004 classic. But looks can be deceiving. While these environments may look similar to those you’ve seen before, Resident Evil Village actually manages to switch things up in some interesting ways.
As you make your way through the game, you’ll come across the four Village Lords. By now, you’ve surely heard of Lady Dimitrescu. But that tall (very tall) glass of vampiric water is just the first of a motley crew of baddies you’ll encounter, and each Lord’s lair presents a unique gameplay twist.
For example, Lady Dimitrescu and her three witchy daughters patrol the castle and will stalk you similarly to Mr. X in Resident Evil 2. Meanwhile, the lair of the doll-maker Donna Beneviento is an entirely combat-free affair that plays similarly to psychological horror titles like Layers of Fear. The living magnet Heisenberg (no, not that Heisenberg) is an all-out action extraordinaire that almost feels lifted from a Wolfenstein game with its industrial setting and meat-and-metal monstrosities.
What Are You Buying?
Sure, the vast majority of the characters you’ll meet want you dead. But that’s not to say you’re completely alone in Resident Evil Village. The Duke will quickly become your best friend. He’s a morbidly obese shopkeeper who functions similarly to Resident Evil 4‘s Merchant. He’ll sell you ammo, healing items, and recipes for crafting new and exciting types of ammo for your guns. Additionally, he can upgrade your weaponry and even cook up tasty dishes out of the animals you hunt, which can permanently boost your stats. How’s that for service?
Of course, the best upgrades cost a pretty penny. Thankfully, the village and its surroundings are teeming with precious treasures you can find and sell for a high price. That said, if you’re an eagle-eyed gamer who likes a good treasure hunt, you’ll find plenty here to keep you busy—especially if you want to find all of the special combinable treasures which can fetch you an insane amount of cash.
I wrapped up my review playthrough in just shy of 10 hours. However, if you want to find all of the treasures the game has to offer, you can easily add a few more hours to your total playtime.
Upping Your Arsenal
As for the combat itself, Resident Evil Village‘s gunplay is punchy at satisfying. Well-placed shotgun blasts will send lumbering Lycans soaring through the air. And the wet “pop!” that results from a sniper rifle round disintegrating a ghoul’s head never gets old. Towards the end of the game, you’ll come across a variety of high-tech assault rifles and semi-automatic shotguns that feel lifted straight out of your average Call of Duty game. As you’d expect, these cost a fortune, though. So if you want to wield these tools of destruction, you better keep your eyes peeled for all that glitters (or be prepared to sell your fully kitted-out guns).
If there’s one thing about Resident Evil Village‘s gameplay that disappointed me, it was the game’s puzzles. Or rather, the lack of them. There is only a handful of them in the game, and they don’t require any real thought, which is a shame. In addition to the typical item and button combination puzzles, there are also a few physics-based ones to solve. These require you to do things like swinging hanging braziers to ignite fires or blast open weakened walls. Again, they’re nothing too ambitious, which makes them feel like they’re tacked on rather than an integral part of the experience.
A Scenic Night On The Town
When it comes to presentation, Resident Evil Village is a hell of a looker. I reviewed the PS5 version of the game, which makes great use of ray tracing and HDR effects to really bring the world to life. These bells and whistles are especially noticeable in areas like Dimitrescu’s castle and the weapons factory (pictured above), which feature spectacular ambient lighting effects and rich colors that pop off the screen. The game also showcases some absolutely stunningly lifelike character models, with the Lady D obviously being the star of the show.
As good as these interior areas look, things do fall a bit flat in the outdoor environments. From muddy textures to occasional pop-in, it’s plain to see that the lion’s share of the effort went into crafting the more grandiose locations each lord inhabits rather than the village from which the game takes its name. Of course, that’s not to say the village itself is ugly—it really does look nice. But the disparity between the village, which serves as a hub, and the game’s main areas, is pretty hard to ignore.
In addition to RTX, the PlayStation 5 version of Resident Evil Village also uses 3D audio to heighten the immersion and enhance the experience. From the sound of Lady Dimitrescu’s high heels clicking on the marble floors behind you as she doggedly pursues you to the snarls and roars of Lycans as they circle whatever house you’re hiding in, it’s all really exciting stuff that really pulls you into the action. Sony’s DualSense controller is also used to excellent effect as the adaptive triggers make each trigger pull feel oh-so-satisfying.
Show-Stopping Survival Horror
As I said before, my review playthrough took just under ten hours. Admittedly, this sounds a bit lean, but there’s plenty to keep you coming back for more. Mercenaries mode is accessible after you beat the main game. And while it pales a bit in comparison to RE4‘s incarnation, it still provides some arcade-style fun that rewards you with points that you can use to unlock goodies in the main game. Additionally, New Game Plus and a new unlockable difficulty mode exist for those who want to unlock everything you missed in your first go-round or test their mettle against more ferocious enemies.
Resident Evil Village is a worthwhile addition to Capcom’s survival horror franchise. It’s an explosive and brutal thrill ride that will surely please fans of Resident Evil 4 or those who enjoyed Resident Evil 7 but felt it could use a bit more action. While I don’t think I’d call it my personal favorite entry in the series (that honor goes to Resident Evil 2), I feel Capcom has done an admirable job of combining the strengths of two of the franchise’s most memorable titles to create something new and exciting. If you’re a fan of the series, then this is one game that absolutely deserves a spot in your PS5 library.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC; Publisher: Capcom; Developer: Capcom; Players: 1; Released: May 7, 2021; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: $59.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Resident Evil Village given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.