Title: Resident Evil: Village
Release Date: May 7, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
Genre: Adventure Horror
For the past 25 years, Resident Evil has been terrifying gamers. It’s a series that has been deemed one of the fathers of survival horror, which means the developers are constantly trying to figure out what that looks like in modern gaming. Resident Evil VII would introduce a first-person perspective that would find its way into the newest entry, Resident Evil Village. However, instead of re-hashing the same experience to fans, it instead blends elements from previous installments to create a nightmare that you don’t want to wake from.
Resident Evil Village has Ethan Winters take on the role of the protagonist once again as he has just settled down before having everything taken away from him. He sets out on a journey to find his missing daughter, which leads him to a strange village. After meeting the locals, it’s clear that this will be another nightmare as the town is under the watchful eye of a dark entity known as Mother Miranda. Ethan must then find a way to survive being hunted by those she controls and find his daughter.
I’ll stop there for fear of spoilers, but the narrative becomes this grand adventure where Ethan begins connecting all these dots. We don’t only have Chris Redfield to act as a bridge to the previous titles in this entry. Instead, we see that damned Umbrella logo attached to areas of interest. Ethan goes down the rabbit hole, which might be tough to follow if you, for some reason, haven’t played the previous games. There’s honestly twist after twist here, and each antagonist holds the key to Ethan’s goal.
Resident Evil Village seems to use its antagonists as a timeline throughout the entire series. Each encounter takes elements from one of the previous games and has you adjust accordingly. It makes it difficult to get comfortable, and the game does a great job at keeping that tension up in several different ways, whether it’s the looming steps of Lady Dimitrescu looking for you in the halls of her castle, surviving an attack from a group of werewolves, or trying to figure out which key to use on the door as an enemy closes in.
It’s a strange way to trick your brain into getting comfortable with a unique form of uncomfortable tension, only to switch it up on you and have you adjust accordingly. I loved it. I was never able to catch onto what would come next, and I was forced to stay alert to watch out for whatever was about to be thrown at me.
When compared to Resident Evil VII, Resident Evil Village is more action-oriented. There’s a sense of item collecting and bullet hoarding, but this game doesn’t demand that you conserve your ammo. For starters, it’s possible to simply craft bullets from items found throughout the world. It’s an interesting feature that I often forgot about until I realized I was out of healing items. Still, it comes in handy and is just another reward for searching everywhere.
Items can also be purchased from a character known as the “Duke.” The Duke is actually more helpful than anyone in the game, but Ethan is still cautious. He sells everything from guns to customization parts and ammo. If there’s something you need, there’s a price for it. Items can also be sold, which borrow heavily from RE4, where you can collect treasure and combine it for a higher sell price. There are also puzzles that grant you high selling items, but most of these valuables come from fallen enemies. You can also cook, which adds buffs to Ethan, such as permanent health increases.
The main HUB of Resident Evil Village is, well, the Village. You’ll be progressing your way through this huge area, unlocking new paths and collecting treasures. I loved this concept, but this town is never easy to navigate. There’s always something blocking your way, forcing you to take a long way around, even after you’ve unlocked all the paths. I was constantly getting turned around and checking my map to see if I was going the right way.
The various dungeons are a bit more natural in layout, so it’s tougher not to get lost, but they each have their gimmicks. There’s no doubt that this is a beautifully crafted game, though. Each room is handcrafted in a way that forces you to slow down and try to take it all in. This is also found in the puzzles that are largely environmental and will probably only stump you for a few minutes.
These puzzles are more of your one-and-done type where you get through them, and then you won’t see another one like it. Some item management goes into unlocking doors, but key items don’t take up room in your main inventory, so I never had a problem with carrying everything I wanted to carry.
Resident Evil Village understands how to set the tone of the adventure. The music will suddenly ramp up, and you’ll be faced with the choice to run or fight. Depending on how you play, it’s up to you. There’s a large batch of different enemies who will put your patience and skill of blocking to the test, but I always seemed to have what was needed to make it out alive. It was challenging at times, but I made it through. Other modes like Mercenary and higher difficulties will definitely add to the replayability of this adventure, but on its own, you won’t see everything there is to see in one playthrough.
Resident Evil Village is like a reunion of all the previous games in the series. It takes what worked and gives it to fans in small bites across this horrifying adventure. Tension is created in multiple ways that force you to adjust on the fly, but as scary as it, the thought that answers to all your questions lie beyond the next door will keep you playing long into the night.
Resident Evil Village isn’t having an identity crisis. It’s fully aware of what it’s doing. Somehow, the blending of these systems produces the most entertaining nightmare you’ve ever had.
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