Ethan and Mia Winters and their sinisterly named newborn, baby Rosemary, who's name I am sure is no accident, are still trying to move on from the horrific events that transpired at the Baker Estate. Three years have passed since the canon ending of the acclaimed title Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which whenever reminded of conjures up images of the infamous garage scene, and today the Winters family find themselves by good fortune relocated to the European continent under the watchful eye of Chris Redfield. That, folks, is the end of the Winter’s story and they live happily ever after. Round of applause!
I’m lying! Come on! You know it can’t be as easy as that? This is Resident Evil we're talking about!
What are the visuals like?
Introducing CAPCOM's eighth instalment of the series: Resident Evil Village. A game built through the distinctive RE Engine, Resident Evil Village despite being ominously designed has some absolutely marvellous visuals that are brimful in their detail. Ranging from the radiance of period architecture to the intricate facial detail (sometimes too much so!) of the denizens of the titular Village – RE8 lives up to our expectation; partnering the graphic potential of the next generation consoles, using features like Ray-Tracing, with the classic look and feel of the Resident Evil franchise – a combination creating an awesome journey throughout this terrifying world we find ourselves in. Whilst playing I found it difficult to know where to look! Do I concern myself with this vampire girl in front of me, but hang on take a look at the detail of that crumbling wall! Damn! Should I be fascinated or fearful? Village took over that decision for me - the answer was definitely fearful.
Who will I be fighting this time?
So, what went wrong for Ethan Winters this time? Admit it, this guy has some really, really bad luck. In a turn of events, Chris Redfield and his Hound Wolf squad attack the Winter’s family home, some crazy stuff happens (no spoilers today!) and then we find ourselves in the Village of Shadows: a mountainous Romanian settlement overlooked by the impressive but menacing Castle Dimetrescu. The Village is governed by a theocratic group of four houses, the Dimetrescu, Beneviento, Heisenberg and Moreau clans but ultimately led by an extremely maternal and compassionate (not really) figure named Mother Miranda. The Village, a perpetually clouded and heavily darkened backwater, and its citizens is plagued by the same form of Mold, known as Megamycete, the fungal super-organism responsible for producing the Cadou Parasite that infects the Village, that we encountered in Louisiana during the Evil Dead inspired Resident Evil 7: Biohazard game. Infesting the Village, the Molded encompasses a broader spectrum of adversaries: Lycans, a werewolf-human hybrid, the Moroaica, paying homage to the Moroi, an aspect of Romanian Folklore, who in the Village are a zombified group of women murdered by the Dimetrescu family, and the Samca, an airborne and bat-like variation of the Moroaica. Perching at the upper rungs of our adversaries sits the vampiric Dimetrescu clan comprised of Lady Alcina Dimetrescu, who is herself one of Mother Miranda’s ‘Cadou Parasite’ experiments which explains why she is almost 10ft tall, as well as her three near-identical (and fiendish) daughters. You will become well-acquainted with unholy Dimetrescu quartet, especially the mother, Alcina, as they will ruthlessly stalk you throughout specific locations, forcing you to always keep an uneasy eye peering over your shoulder at all times. Maintaining the franchises traditional first-person shooter approach, the new Resident Evil game imbues our experience with terror and panic, particularly in the first half of the gameplay, but also expands somewhat with a greater level of action play in Resident Evil’s largest map yet.
'You will become well-acquainted with unholy Dimetrescu quartet, especially the mother, Alcina, as they will ruthlessly stalk you throughout specific locations, forcing you to always keep an uneasy eye peering over your shoulder at all times.'
What does gameplay entail?
Our primary task as Ethan Winters is to locate our abducted daughter, Rosemary, and get her to safety. Thankfully, Ethan is now from past experience a skilled rifleman which translates over to better shot accuracy and faster reload times – and lord knows are we going to need it. It is not a problem if you are new to the Resident Evil series for Village introduces many novel factors to the series, but it is still a wise idea to have a rough notion of the Resident Evil lore before playing. We are given intel by a rotund fellow named the Duke, who just so happens to be a merchant we can trade supplies and weapons with using Lei, the Romanian currency. The Duke also helps to guide us throughout the cursed Village and beyond throughout four prominent locations, seeming to be one of our only friends (and chefs?) in the mist of the Village. In typical Resident Evil fashion we are able to scavenge resources, even in the form of hunting animals in Days Gone fashion, that assist us in staying alive and fending off mutated opponents, but Resident Evil Village takes this process a step further: we can now craft health and ammo supplies among other useful items. Village reintroduces a grid-based inventory system resembling the honoured Attache Case in Resident Evil 4, only it has now had a modern overhaul that looks at home on a next-gen console. Each and every opponent RE8 sends our way has a distinct combat style meaning we must constantly adapt our own offensive approach. That said, continuing on from the evolution RE7, survival in the Village is not all about attacking; it is as much about defending effectively too. CAPCOM were keen to focus on developing mechanics allowing players to guard against attacks, instigate staggering retaliations from timed guards and even kicking-based counter attacks. A further collection of weapons sitting in your arsenal are environmental factors; shooting bags of flour to stun the enemy as well as red fuel barrages – well, I don’t need to tell you what to do with them.
'Continuing on from the evolution RE7, survival in the Village is not all about attacking; it is as much about defending effectively too.'
What can I get up to post-credits?
Upon finishing the campaign you can get your hands dirty in a few other game modes, you know – just for closure! The first of which is fan-favourite named the Mercenaries, a tense survival mini-game taking after the Raid Mode we have relished in years past. After unlocking the Mercenaries game mode using the extra content menu, we are transported back to the Village, clinging for dear life against hordes of the Molded. Using our tailored load-out, our goal is to clear the area of the undead without perishing…and the faster the better. Rush doesn’t mean rash though; we have to conserve our ever sparse ammo supplies. Around each stage, each set in a different location, are orbs that contain either ability upgrades or time-extensions, giving us better odds of progressing intact to the next stage. Ok but what if you are a bit wearisome of fighting the Moroaica by this point? CAPCOM have you covered: you can instead go on instead to indulge in a bit Re:Verse, a new deathmatch-based online multiplayer mode giving us the ability to enter the perspective of many different characters, such as Jack Baker and Nemesis, from the last three or so Resident Evil titles. Created as a thank you message to fans to honour the 25th anniversary of the Resident Evil series, Re:Verse, as the name might suggest, aims to take us way back to the nostalgic beginning of the Resident Evil Universe and it does so by adopting the old-school third-person perspective. During the six-man deathmatches, revered characters from previous instalments are revived to fight just one last battle, satisfying the age-old questions of 'Who would win between X and Y'. Fortunately for some, Re:Verse focuses less on horror gameplay and instead hones in on amusement and convenience; endless re-spawns and plentiful ammo meaning we need only concern ourselves with one thing: to assassinate our enemies in whichever way possible!
I found Resident Evil Village (which you can purchase for the PS4, PS5 and the Xbox One, Series X/S through Smart Delivery) to be an enthralling addition to the series, combining next-generation graphics with the archetypical Resident Evil experience: crazed characters, abominable monsters, jittery journeys throughout demonic-feeling locations and the sheer stimulation of survival – once you have entered the Village, it is very hard to leave it behind…even from the comfort of your gaming chair. RE8, at least according to the trusted word of Tsoyishi Kanda, one of the Village producers, brings a definite close to the Ethan Winters story – a statement backed up by the closing words of the post-credits scene – ‘The father’s story is now done’. Though Ethan Winters might be retired for now, Resident Evil certainly isn’t; Village leaves us all likely to be thinking the same thing: what is grown up Rosemary now up to?
Written by Joel Gunner