ReviewsReview: Resident Evil Village

Review: Resident Evil Village

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Fans of the horror genre don’t frighten easily! Clichéd jump scares don’t affect them, and they’ve seen enough blood to last them a lifetime. They are a particular bunch, and each loves a specific style. Old-school Dawn of the Dead or new-school 28 Days Later. Whatever your poison, I think we can all agree that Resident Evil ticks a lot of boxes for fans of the genre. Resident Evil Village is the latest instalment in a long line of much-loved games. I couldn’t wait to try it, and once it finally installed (darn you slow internet), I strapped myself in, dimmed the lights, and prepared to soil myself repeatedly.

Developed and published by Capcom Co., Ltd. this horror adventure puzzle franchise is hard-hitting from the off. Designed to test your mental prowess, ability to plan, and composure, Resident Evil Village is guaranteed to keep you up at night and make you cry like a baby. Even with its three difficulty settings, this isn’t one for the faint of heart, so when you decide to take this on, be prepared to be scared senseless.

A high-grade pedigree.

Now, I rarely like to open with a history lesson, but Resident Evil’s franchise deserves a little recap. This twenty-five-year-old series began life on the PlayStation in 1996. Receiving praise for its revolutionary approach, and amazing storylines, a sequel was all but guaranteed. Roll on to 2021 and we have seen seven main titles that have spanned a variety of consoles, many spin-offs, films, novels and more.

The series hasn’t strayed far from its original storyline, evolving slowly as the years have passed. Starting with The Umbrella Corporation’s inhumane creation of the “T-Virus” and mutagens, to Biological Warfare and the fallout that we see in the modern era titles. There have been many protagonists and supporting characters throughout, but none more so than; Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Albert Wesker, and Ethan Winters.

The franchise began as an over the shoulder shooter that concentrated on action, shooting, and scaring you half to death. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard changed tact, moving to a more immersive first-person perspective, focusing on exploration, puzzles and survival. This change in direction brought along high praise from industry experts and fans alike. Unsurprisingly, Capcom Co., Ltd. retained this style and used it as the platform for their latest iteration Resident Evil Village.

That’s enough of the history lesson! Before we start this, let’s make sure we’re ready; snacks, check. Drinks, check. Multiple changes of underwear, check, check, check. Excellent, we’re ready, so let’s begin.

Ladies are supposed to be nice.

Zombies have never been so frightening.

Throughout the series, the zombies and mutant creatures have gotten more ferocious, and they are now smarter than ever. An array of hideous beasts await you on your trip through this dank and eerie landscape. From crawling menaces to flying monsters, they are guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. The snarls, growls, and screams indicate that they are less than happy, and none of them wants to be your friend. It’s fair to say that Capcom has outdone themselves in the fear factor, and I jumped often and shrieked countless times.

This horrendous experience continues throughout, and you are haunted by every boss you face and their taunting ways. I didn’t get into this thinking it would be a peaceful affair, but everything wanting to kill me, including the local wildlife, was a disconcerting time. It’s a never-ending battle of wits and firepower. You must balance your desire to shoot and to run away. Resources are limited, and it was all too easy to unload your last rounds into a worthless foe. If you wish to survive, you must play smart and reserve your small supply of ammo.

Mother Miranda and the four lords.

Get used to the phrase Mother Miranda and the four lords! These ungodly creatures hold the key to completing your mission. Ethan Winters must overcome puzzles, obstacles, and zombies to face each of these ghastly beasts. Each boss has its own lair that it resides, and you must pluck up the courage to face each one to get a step closer to finding what your heart desires.

Mother Miranda and her four underlings were atrocious! Rarely do games affect me the way Resident Evil Village has, and this was down to the callous and cold nature of each of these abominations. They have one aim in mind and they are hell-bent on achieving it. You are only one man, and attempting to defeat a group of demonic beings could be a tough ask for our hero.

It’s time for your close up.

I expected Resident Evil Village to have an open-world experience.

I came into this imagining a large open-world experience that would allow me the freedom to explore as I wished. In reality, what I was treated to was a semi expansive exploration game that relied on a sneaky linear approach. Locked doors, blocked passageways, and specific keys hinder your progress. This was no surprise to me, as I knew the gameplay would push you towards the next goal. Yet, I wasn’t prepared for how rigid it would be!

You are teased with the look and feel of a vast open space, but in reality, the game funnels your time on a plot and course it wants you to take. Whether it was specific tasks, puzzles, or keys, you are restricted to how the developers want you to play it, and not how you wish it to be. This didn’t worry me too much, but I would have liked a little more freedom to explore what looked like vast areas of; towns, farmland, and overbearing estates.

Ethan soon becomes a killing machine.

Poor Ethan, he’s gone through a rough time in Biohazard, and that doesn’t look to change in the latest iteration. He can improve his chances of survival by crafting goods, upgrading equipment, and buying supplies from an odd specimen know as the Duke. The crafting mechanics are wonderfully simple, yet they will drive you mad. There are never enough resources to go around, and running out of ammo, health packs, and other essential gear is all part of the rich tapestry of this Resident Evil game.

The Duke is an obese, rude, and blunt man who is oddly helpful. This merchant will sell you new equipment, upgrades for your weapons, and will buy items you wish to sell. Not only is he a merchant, but he also acts as a guide in these dark times, Your very own Jiminy Cricket if you will! His advice and guidance help to keep you on track, and he brings some much-needed comedy to sombre and dangerous times.

Some many weapons at your disposal.

Resident Evil Village has collectables, treasure, and livestock.

When you are fighting wave after wave of zombies, I’m sure the last thing on your mind is collecting valuables. But this is an option available to you. You gather as many objects or as few as you wish. It doesn’t hinder your progress, and all can be ignored. But if you fail to collect the craftables, you’ll soon run out of ammo! With your weapons rendered useless, sadly, you are likely to die.

Alongside the collectables, you will seek; wells and livestock. Murdering the local’s animals sounds harsh, but they’d have probably been munched by zombies, so who cares. Slaughter them, gather the meat and move on! This portion of the game increased the sense of an open-world game, but no matter how far it pushed, it reverted to type, and you were forced to follow the linear structure at all times.

Fans of the franchise will love the twists and turns, and many puzzles.

What I loved about this title was its ability to deliver on what was expected, but still, chuck in something unexpected. I spent much of my time gritting my teeth, drawing large breaths of air, and horrified by the events that were unfolding. Even with its “guided” gameplay, you will be treated to many twists and turns.

Alongside these curveballs, you will experience a variety of puzzles. They will test your logical thinking, memory skills, and patience. Many must be solved to progress the story, and these usually involve you collecting keys, parts, and other random objects. Other puzzles reward you with rare items, and though these are more challenging, they can be ignored if you are not interested.

A steady hand is all you need.

Resident Evil Village looks incredible!

The games that are optimised for the Series X blow your mind! I never imagined they’d get so much performance from such a small machine. I knew Resident Evil Village would look great, I simply wasn’t prepared for how good it would look! Every aspect is finished to an incredibly high standard. The objects look realistic, the lighting creates shadows that alter when moving, and the characters are so realistic you could be watching a film. If you then take into consideration the array of colours, tones and environments that have been used, it’s a visual treat that keeps on giving. I don’t like to gush about games, but this deserves all the praise that can be heaped upon it.

Capcom Co., Ltd’s. decision to keep the first-person viewpoint was a genius idea. This immersive perspective has you petrified from the moment you take control. Creeping around buildings, through foggy fields, and long-abandoned villages are eerie at the best of times. But chuck in low-lighting, a weak torch, and horrendous zombie mutant beasts, and you have a recipe to make adults cry.

Hollywood style audio. 

The visuals scared me, but I can’t get the eerie audio out of my head. Playing this with headphones is a must, but be warned, the sounds of the zombies will haunt you long after you finish playing. Classic horror techniques are used to perfection. Creaking floorboards, slamming doors, sounds from distant rooms, and the blood-curdling screams of each monster were truly disturbing. Let us not forget the earth-shattering noise from the guns, the swishing of melee weapons, and the environmental sounds that all add up to create this truly upsetting and damned atmosphere.

The sound effects are amazing, but what I found truly spectacular was the acting. There are few games that deliver this to an exceptionally high standard, yet Resident Evil Village achieved this level. From the gruff, aggressive, and macho lead characters, to the meek and vulnerable supporting cast. Each played their part perfectly to sell the horror story.

Bow before your lord!

So easy to control that a child could play it, but I wouldn’t advise it!

As far as I know, Resident Evil has always been easy to control. Resident Evil Village unsurprisingly follows suit. With the opening thirty minutes acting as a petrifying tutorial, you’ll have the fundamentals nailed quickly. It’s so easy to pick up, a child could play it. I don’t recommend doing that though, as they’ll likely be scarred for life. The aforementioned crafting system requires little skill and aiming and shooting is standard fare.

The simplicity of the approach allows veteran of the franchise to continue on from where they left off. New players, however, can focus on the action with no concern for a complex control system.

When a game is this scary, why wouldn’t you want to play it again? Three difficulty levels are available for you to choose from to increase longevity. A complex and challenging achievement list will demand perfect playthrough’s, thorough exploration, and a keen eye for detail. On top of this, there is a separate online mode called Resident Evil Re:Verse. At the time of writing this review I hadn’t played it, but it’ll allow players to battle each other as iconic characters from the franchise. Redfield and Redfield Vs Wesker, what’s not to love?

Resident Evil Village will drip with accolades.

I’m not willing to beat around the bush, Resident Evil Village was simply fantastic. Biohazard received accolades and plaudits across the board, and I can see the same happening with its sequel. Every element fits together to create a well oiled horrific scaring machine. A brilliantly written story with twists and turns, and surprises for returning players. Amazing graphics, excellent audio, accessible controls, and mountains of replay value. Every gamer needs this in their library, so buy it here! Dim the lights, turn up the sound, and prepare to never sleep again! 

SUMMARY

Resident Evil Village is a devilishly scary horror survival game. Search dank locations, hunt down, or be hunted by ghastly monsters, and find what your heart desires. An accessible crafting system is mixed with upgradable equipment to customise your approach. A variety of puzzles and challenges will halt your progress, and logical thinking and patience are a must. Stunning graphics, immersive audio, and simple controls make this a must-have game.

+ Atmospheric graphics and amazing cutscenes.
+ Immersive haunting audio.
+ An engrossing story.
+ Interesting characters.
+ A wide selection of weapons and tools at your disposal.
+ An amazing world to exist in.
+ Great value for money.
+ Mountains of replay value.
- I expected it to be more open-world.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Google Stadia and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I've now found a new home to write my reviews, and get my opinion out to the masses. Still the lead admin for Xboxseriesfans on Facebook and Instagram. I love the gaming world, and writing about it. I can be contacted at [email protected] for gaming reviews.

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