Resident Evil Village: The Good, the Bad, and the 9 Foot Tall Vampire Lady

For me, Resident Evil was one of the defining series of both the low poly 32-bit era and my tween/teen years. I’ve never been more scared in a game than that first time the dogs come crashing through the window in the original RE, and, to this day, the second installment with all its crocodile exploding, Mr. X stalking terror remains one of my favorite games. As time marched on, however, the outsized impact of the T-virus induced zombie apocalypse on my gaming life has started to wane. After completely skipping Resident Evil 6 and trying and failing on three separate occasions to get into Resident Evil 7, I was worried that my interest in the beloved survival horror franchise of my childhood might be as dried up as one of the zombies terrorizing the citizens of Raccoon City. While trailers for Village looked somewhat promising, it also seemed like maybe they were trying a tad too hard to be meme-worthy instead of getting back to the heart of what makes Resident Evil such a standout. One night, on a bored whim, I downloaded Village‘s Castle Demo and found myself suddenly transported back to everything I loved about the series. While only 30 minutes long, it was enough to pique my interest and get me to pre-order the game.

Would the full-length adventure live up to Resident Evil‘s storied history, or would it be time to let the past go and find a new game to scare the crap out of me?

The RE2 (The Good)

The Graphics

Yes, I chose lace curtains and not a grotesque monstrosity to showcase how good the graphics are

Even little things like lace curtains are just absolutely breathtaking and make you really appreciate the level of craftsmanship that went into every inch of this game. It’s a world you’d want to get lost in aside from all those blood-thirsting demons roaming about waiting to dismember you.

Weapons

All of the hallmarks of a good Resident Evil armory are here from peashooters to shotguns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, and the most gorgeous magnum to ever grace the series. The abundance of customization and upgrade options also serve as a fun mini-game as you go from severely injured dad to alpha werewolf obliterating badass.

Major Resident Evil 4 Vibes

The moment you set foot in that European village, it’s clear that the game wants to hammer home the connections to what many consider to be the series’ finest entry, Resident Evil 4. Aside from the general atmosphere, the mysterious merchant, weapon customization options, treasure hunting, and more all harken back to the simpler times of the mid-2000’s. Really, the only other thing this game could have done to further hit you over the head with its connection to the fourth one would have been to add progressively ridiculous quick-time events.

The House Structure

Village’s setting finds you journeying through 4 distinct and distinguished Houses surrounding the titular village. The result is you get nearly 5 fully unique experiences throughout the game (most of which work really well). As such, things stay surprisingly fresh throughout, and it’s always a thrill (and chill) to see what’s next.

Lady Dimitrescu and Her Daughters

As a 5 foot 4 (and a half!) inch man whose first college girlfriend was 6 feet tall, I get the internet’s obsession with the giant vampire lady. I really do. Going into the game, though, I was worried that she would simply serve as a marketing ploy that unintentionally blew up. I’m pleased to report that Lady D and her 3 daughters are among the finest highlights of the game. While the stalking version of Lady D may play as a slightly lower budget Mr. X from RE2, the big scripted encounters are where she and her girls truly shine. Really, the only negative mark here is that we could have used more of them. As the first house you visit, it’s a shame that they’re out of the game completely by hour 3, since Capcom really hit on something here.

The Doll Horror of House Beneviento

Feel free to bury the game deep in the woods at this point

While there is a ton of “nope” to be had in the creepy doll infested House Beneviento that may cause some gamers to peace out, the game’s second house emphasizes the survival horror aspect better than anything this series has done in a long time. Sure, as many have pointed out, it may play as more Silent Hill than Resident Evil, but there are a lot worse games to emulate. While most of the game tends toward to be more actiony than scary, House Beneviento proves that Resident Evil can still deliver the frights when they want to.

The Length

With two kids in the house now, I greatly appreciated having an epic gaming journey that lasted only 10 hours, meaning I could knock it out over the course of a week without having to stay up too late. Resident Evil has always been about shorter adventures that you are encouraged to repeatedly complete at faster and faster times to unlock cooler weapons. While I don’t think I’ll be doing a replay of this anytime soon, it’s good to know that when I do decide to revisit a bunch of games in the series, it won’t be that much of a tax on my backlog.

The Map

These games require a lot of backtracking, so having a map that lets you know what’s been cleared out, what still has secrets to uncover, and what you haven’t even visited yet is an absolute necessity. The simple blue/red coding is a bit of elegant and smart UI that makes the more recent games far easier on my aging brain.

The Modern Warfare Bit

Prior to the big final showdown, the game takes half an hour or so to transition from resource scrapped to one-man army, introducing some sleek military weapons and seemingly unlimited resources. I’ve seen a few reviews criticize this section, but I absolutely loved the little detour that felt like a nice treat for dealing with the previous 9 hour of rationing.

Ethan’s Severed Hand

Hands down (you see what I did there) the funniest item pickup to ever grace a Resident Evil game. Thank god for healing mold powers and first-aid meds. How come when my house had a mold issue all I got was a $5,000 bill and a trip to my in-laws for the weekend?

Arranging Things in a Briefcase

There’s just something incredibly satisfying about playing a serene mix of Marie Kondo and Tetris with your resources to get them to fit in your briefcase. Even though my treasure hunting ways meant I was always able to afford the size upgrades and thus was never too crunched for space, I still loved just taking a moment to organize my belongings like getting all my weapons and ammo in one area. My only complaint is that they updated the fish in this game to just exist as meat, so you didn’t have the fun of having a suitcase full of giant fish like in RE4.

The Big Twist at the End

Without giving anything away, the big twist in the final Act is absolutely brilliant and really pays off on a lot of things. Hell, it even made me want to go back and try to give Resident Evil 7 another chance.

The Future of Resident Evil

With RE7 never quite clicking for me, I wasn’t sure that the franchise could survive the switch to first-person with its underlying soul intact. However, by the end of my time in this game, I was convinced that the future of Resident Evil was indeed in the first-person, just so long as they keep giving me some of those sweet, sweet third person remakes along the way.

The RE5 (The Mixed Bag)

Ethan Winters

An accurate Winters family portrait

The series’ protagonist since RE7 is a bland as bland white dude heroes get. His sole defining personality trait is that he is a family man through and through. In a world full of bombast, he is a vanilla turd. Still, he’s not without his “charms”. For one, the constant bodily harm he endures ranges from hilarious to gasp-inducing and gives him a ridiculous sense of toughness. His true saving grace though, comes in that blandness. His line deliveries border on the cheesiness that defined the earliest entries (see Jill Sandwich) and are good for poking that sense of nostalgic love childhood me has for the earlier games. By the end of the game, I had grown to like this faceless, personality-less mess of a man.

Crafting

Having the ability to craft resources like first aid meds and ammo is seemingly a godsend in a game like this, and having the required materials not take up precious inventory space was a kind mercy given to us by the developers. However, due to the bullet sponge nature of the baddies (more on that later), I found myself spending an absurd amount of time in the crafting menu trying to do sleep-deprived math to figure out the best way to allocate the materials. It’s definitely a step in the right direction for the series, though, so hopefully they build on this in future installments.

House Moreau

Clearly inspired by RE4‘s Del Lago swamp boss, there are some excellent bones in the game’s third House. If only it involved throwing a harpoon or two, it might have really hit the mark. Maybe I’m just annoyed since the creature ate me one too many times, but it just didn’t quite reach the heights of its inspiration or the first two Houses.

The RE6 (The Bad)

Chris Not Taking a Moment to Talk

Just use your damn words, Chris!

The game starts out with a bang, literally when Chris Redfield comes shooting up your house, killing your wife, and kidnapping your baby (it’s in the trailer, so let’s not consider this a spoiler). It’s not until about 9 hours later that you finally find out why because Chris couldn’t be bothered to just tell you what’s up before going all shady government operative on you. As Heisenberg so eloquently puts it, “I’m gonna kill that boulder-punching asshole”.

Heisenberg’s Factory

Very cool creepy visual, if only the factory wasn’t a boring mess

The game comes seriously crashing down into boring territory once you hit the last pre-final boss fight area of Heisenberg’s Factory. Now, to be fair, every Resident Evil has a big warehouse-like region near the end where you comes across some super-charged enemies that are a pain in the ass and have to solve some final puzzles. Unfortunately, with the maze like structure of all the floors, this area brings things to an almost complete halt. At least it ends with a wonderful bang thanks to a bonkers boss fight with the Magneto-esque Heisenberg outside of the god-forsaken factory.

The Bullet Sponge Werewolves and Vampires

Resident Evil has always been about heightening tension through making ammo and other resources scarce. As such, the ghouls that inhabit its world don’t just go down with a couple of well placed rounds. Still, it felt like they took this tactic to even more absurd levels for the 8th mainline outing as the standard werewolves and vampires often took 7ish bullets to down and even multiple shotgun blasts to the head. This meant I was constantly trying to figure out what weapon I had enough resources to craft ammo for and often was forced to used heavy weapons on lighter monster fare.

Conclusion

You’ll be jumping on the ceiling with joy at how good RE Village is

While Resident Evil Village is by no means perfect, it managed to reinvigorate my love of the series and has me suddenly looking forward to what they do next and not just waiting for the all the inevitable remakes along the way. Hell, it even had me debating whether I needed to go buy a PSOne so I could replay the first 3 games. Triumphantly, Village presents action and suspense that rivals some of the best the long-running franchise has offered, and it serves as a great jumping on point for anyone new to the games or for anyone who has become lapsed in their love of Capcom’s brand of zombie apocalypse as time has gone on.

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