Resident Evil Village Review: Survival horror with a dash of action

The Resident Evil video game series is certainly one of the most famous and successful franchises of all time. Not only because it holds up to a good name made back in 1996, when it first started off. But also because every title adds a new dimension to this massive universe Capcom has created. With the release of the 8th installment, the series carries forward with Resident Evil 7’s story line. All while keeping a similar storytelling style and giving us all the answers we were looking for.

If you haven’t got your hands on any Resident Evil games so far, then Village may raise a lot of questions in your head, as it follows the events of RE7. The best case for those who want to try Village out is to know about the events of RE7 first. Resident Evil Village is what the fans of RE7 expected in terms of completing and understanding the full story of the protagonist, Ethan Winters.

You’ll love it if:Not for you if:
-You’ve played RE7 and want to uncover the rest of the story-You don’t like graphic horror games
-You’re into survival horror games that combine action-You are looking for a title with more than 10-12 hrs of gameplay
-You are looking for an exciting game with a short and sweet story-You want a classic zombie survival horror game
-You enjoy first-person shooter games
For a bit more context:

The first Resident Evil title was released in 1996, giving birth to a series of games based on zombies and survival horror. The huge success of the franchise came at first with RE2 and then with RE4. It’s where we experienced groundbreaking changes for the genre, such as the switch of the camera view to 3rd person. RE7 brought about new changes. Such as the introduction of the 1st person view and the return to intense survival horror that was missing from many previous titles. Resident Evil Village follows in the footsteps of the latter.

Plot (spoilers!)

Village’s plot is based on the events of RE7. It unfolds in a way that raises many questions to the player, even during the first few minutes of gameplay. However, as the story progresses, the tangled skein unfolds. Revealing a cleverly written story, full of plot twists and a cathartic ending.

The village's old hag.

Interesting main story

The story is set three years after the events of RE7. The main protagonist, Ethan Winters, and his wife, Mia have had a daughter named Rose. However, something does seems off with Rose according to her doctors, which worries Ethan. During a conversation with Mia, Chris Redfield and the BSAA team raid Ethan’s house. His wife is killed and baby Rose is taken away. In the next scene, Ethan is in a car accident while being transported to an unknown location by the BSAA. He is the only survivor and suddenly wakes up in a dreary, unknown, and seemingly abandoned village.

While exploring the village and its empty huts, Ethan discovers a scared resident who gives him a gun. However, before we can find out more an unknown entity grabs and kills him. Ethan’s turn soon follows. One of the hundreds of Lycans attacks him and seriously injures him. When he manages to escape he comes across an old hag. As he slowly approaches her, she mentions his daughter, the mysterious Mother Miranda, and an impending ceremony.

  • The Four Lords and Mother Miranda.
  • A book with locations from the village.
  • Some of the village's survivors.
  • A frozen hut.

A movie-like story flow

The story flows like a movie as all the cut-scenes are perfectly integrated into the gameplay. Although there are no chapters, as seen in previous games like RE4, a good consistency is maintained. This is a well-built story. Depending on the location you visit it seems to change its tone, creating a sense of different chapters and acts.

The first visit to the village seems quite short as the game urges you to explore the Dimitrescu castle quite early on. However, the story is compiled in such a way that you return to the village several times, making it a central location. At this point, I have to mention that you get to visit four different locations on the map (except the village). There, the four main bosses, also known as The Four Lords (Lady Dimitrescu, Donna Beneviento, Salvatore Moreau, and Karl Heisenberg), await.

 Lady imitrescu and her three daughters.

The game is not too long, so you will not get tired or bored. Action may in many places give way to exploration, but you will find those mini-breaks quite convenient and needed. As I mentioned before, the game plays like a movie. That means you will keep moving, while it will take you somewhere between 8 to 14 hours to finish. It all depends on the amount of exploring you do, not only for key items but also for treasures and collectibles.

The characters

In typical Resident Evil fashion, every character has their own background, which in this case we uncover through exploring every location, as well as through the main story. Every one of the Four Lords has their own story which Ethan slowly discovers right before he must fight them.

However, the Four Lords are not the main antagonists of the story. This is why the game doesn’t really focus much on them. They are but pieces of Mother Miranda’s power. She is the game’s main antagonist. As you progress, you learn more about her, since she is nothing but a big fat question mark at the beginning of the game. In my eyes, Mother Miranda is one of the most well-developed antagonists of the whole franchise. Plus, her story is connected to it in more than one way (but fear not, I won’t spoil anything).

The Duke.

A pleasant surprise to me was the Duke, a not so insignificant character for the plot. He also reminds you of the Merchant from RE4. Even though we are not aware of his past, we learn that he has trading relations with Lady Dimitrescu. Moreover, he plays an important part in the story, but I’ll let you find that out for yourself.

Visuals

Even though I got to play the game on the PS4, I must say that its visuals are incredible. Every detail can be seen. From a glass vase on a table to Dimitrescu’s intimidating portrait, Village’s environment feels almost alive. The top-notch visuals make for an important part of a survival horror game like this one. Capcom has managed to implement that greatly. The snowy village, the dark castle Dimitrescu, the “haunted” house Beneviento, and many other locations will make you feel like you are really there. All thanks to those top-quality visuals. I can only imagine how realistic the game must look on the next-gen consoles.

As I already mentioned, the world of Resident Evil Village feels almost real and is made with great detail. Even though the locations you visit vary, it is obvious they all belong to the village and are affected by its style. They are all parts of it, but at the same time maintain their own style, with characteristics that make each standout. This is a detailed and certainly memorable world.

  • Lady Dimitrescu's room.
  • A frozen cemetery.
  • House Beneviento's living room.
  • The view from castle Dimitrescu.
  • House Beneviento from the outside.

Although you get to visit the village quite a few times, during each visit you unlock new areas. Plus, many new enemies await your arrival. This gives you the illusion that the world is alive and is constantly scavenged by new monsters. The same goes for the connecting areas. They are also designed with much detail and each time filled with new and more demanding enemies. It never gets easy, my friend.

Cool character design

The game’s characters are again perfectly designed and with every detail present. The monsters you encounter look almost real and have human characteristics, which makes them even scarier. On the other hand, the bosses and some of the Four Lords look a lot like real people. For that, we must thank the impressive face animation of the game, which takes the characters to a whole new level. However, specifically in the case of Mia’s design, the face animation falls into the uncanny valley and can make you feel a little weird.

  • Ethan Winters.
  • Mia Winters.

I was also a bit disappointed that Capcom chose to never reveal Ethan’s face, not even during the last scene. I know this makes it easier for the player to identify with the game’s main character, but c’mon Capcom. We really wanted a face reveal there.

Sound-Music

A meh soundtrack

Music always plays an important role, especially when it comes to survival horror games. This is apparent on the RE franchise, with unforgettable tracks like that of the Save Room in RE4. However, music is not Village’s stronghold. It’s a challenge to remember any remarkable track throughout my gameplay. Except that of the Save Room, which was not something special, to be honest.

Pretty good voice-acting

The voice acting is a pretty good part of the game. All the voice actors give excellent voice performances. The biggest highlights were the performances of Lady Dimitrescu and her three daughters. There were a few times when I noticed that the voice acting was a bit excessive and over-dramatic. Especially when the Bosses had mutated into their monstrous mold-like forms.

A cemetery filled with dolls.

On the other hand, Ethan had quite good voice acting, however, sometimes the line delivery was a bit off. Not only did he not have the proper tone and reactions, depending on the situation, but he often had lines that simply did not make sense. A classic example is when he comes across an abandoned, bloody house and says, “Maybe they’ve just gone out”. I would be screaming, Ethan.

Outstanding sound effects

The game’s sound effects almost exceed the level of voice acting and music, and I’m sure they will stun you. From Ethan’s steps in the snow to the slightest whisper and rustle of leaves, Capcom you’ve done it. At the same time, each weapon has different sound effects, and the knife slashes on an enemy sound quite realistic. The sounds of explosions from your grenade launcher (aka the best gun there is) will make you wish the enemy attacks never came to an end.

  • ΛA Lycan from the village.
  • A Lycan behind a door.
  • A group of Lycans.

Gameplay

Village’s gameplay is very reminiscent of its predecessor. The game fully combines survival horror with intense action. Although it starts off with a lot of exploration, you soon come across a group of Lycans, which catches you completely off-guard. This happens non-stop throughout the gameplay, so the survival horror atmosphere we were used to in previous titles slowly fades. You were made to believe that you were nowhere safe and that there were hidden enemies everywhere, ready to attack. However, in this case, there were many times when I could explore in peace without being disturbed. Of course, there were some memorable jump scares. Be prepared.

Inspiration from the past

On the other hand, RE games had accustomed us to some quite demanding puzzles, which is not the case here. The puzzles were simple and easy and sometimes repetitive. However, Resident Evil Village gains some ground with its map. It is detailed in design, but above all, reminiscent of the one from RE2 Remake. Each room is red and turns blue only when the player discovers everything in it. Some important elements have also been inspired by the equally successful RE4, such as the inventory, which is essentially a large suitcase that you can even expand. You can also hunt different animals and cook dishes at the Duke, granting you some abilities, such as extra health. Also, let’s not omit the treasures and weapons scattered on the map. A good challenge for those who want a bit of extra coin.

  • The village's map.
  • The inventory.

Boss fights and combat

The boss fights were quite fun, and I can say I was looking forward to the next one every time. However, in some parts they became a bit repetitive, so you know what to expect with some bosses. The combat was quite good; however, the 1st person view gave me a hard time with some agile enemies. Backtracking during aiming is quite slow so I often had to make a 180-degree turn and run. In addition, the camera was a bit unstable, making aiming a bit challenging. However, if you face any difficulties, the game has an excellent auto-aim lock that helps a lot with agile enemies. Overall, the combat is great and the blocking ability, which they kept from RE7, makes things a little easier.

In general, Resident Evil Village feels like an open-world game, allowing the player to explore and look for treasures and many more surprises. However, many of the areas need you to have progressed through the story quite a bit to gain access. This results in you returning to the same places quite often instead of leaving them behind and moving on to new ones.

Angie, Donna Beneviento's doll.

Verdict

One would say that Resident Evil Village is a mix between RE4 and RE7, maintaining mainly the positive elements of each one. This is a great effort by Capcom, but not an entirely flawless one. The plot is great with many twists hitting the player as it climaxes. The characters are unique as well as the overall design of the game. The excellent graphics and sound effects complete the experience, bringing it to a higher level. However, the overall atmosphere of the game is not strongly reminiscent of a Resident Evil game. Although it starts off with a lot of survival horror elements, they are slowly giving way to intense action. The puzzles may have needed some more love, while if the horror vibe had been a bit more intense, the game would have brought back the horror we experienced in RE7.

If you are a fan of the franchise or you simply loved RE7, then Village will leave you quite satisfied. It will certainly give you all the answers you were looking for. In any case, everything is judged in detail since the overall experience Resident Evil Village has to offer is undoubtedly epic.

We would like to thank CDMedia Greece for providing the review copy we used for this review!

Greta Giatsou

Posts published: 29

Since 1999. Communication & Mass Media Studies. Gamer, manga artist, editor & social media manager. Wears headphones 24/7.