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Resident Evil Village Review – Thanks But I Already 8

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Resident Evil Village is the latest in the premier AAA horror genre. Released on the 7th of May, on all major consoles, this is a direct sequel to the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Following both the same first person style and the continuation of Ethan Winters’ story.

Gameplay? 9/10 – Tighter gunplay, more variety, a merchant, and just some sickeningly scary sections

There’s actually a fair amount going on in Resident Evil Village. So it’s going to take some time to go through everything, I apologise in advance but this is going to be long.

Combat

As with RE7, you play in first person using many different guns and weapons to fight off hordes of monsters. Notice I said monsters? As in more than one. One of the biggest let downs for me in RE7 was just how few enemy types there were. You had the tall goop monsters, the tiny goop monsters, and the fat ones. Then you had, honesty, just badly designed and played boss fights. I’m looking at you Margarite and your weird beehive vagina. I did not like them. At all.

Resident Evil Village bucks this majorly by adding multiple different “factions” of enemies, each with multiple tiers. One of the coolest and maybe my favourite part is that everything is so “Transylvanian”. It’s all Brother Grimm. There’s werewolves, vampires in their castle, fish monsters, and zombies and thralls galore. I love zombies and always will but I did not like weird goop monsters. This is a breath of fresh air and was sorely needed.

There’s Lycans, half transformed humans which move into fully transformed giant wolves. Then the big daddies that have huge hammers and axes. Then you have the vampires and their thralls, bloody mouthed women and sickle wielding thralls that bit and drink. Cyborgs with their drill arms or a big propeller on their heads. There’s even a fight ripped straight out of Robot Wars. Which I have always loved by the way.

Resident Evil Village big boy

There is so much variety to be had. You’re never bored of the same old boors because there’s always something new. A new faction of enemies, a new high tiered version, a mini-boss. Culminating in some of the best boss designs in the series.

Horror?

I’m going to dedicate a whole small section to this part. People claim that a lot of Resident Evil games aren’t actually scary. There were also reports about Resident Evil Village having the fear factor reduced. Technically, the actual quote simply said that they wanted to pace it out better. Believing that RE7 was too full on as it were, meaning the tension was somewhat reduced. 

This is all in build up to a bit of a spoiler and for that I’m sorry. I cannot talk about Resident Evil Village without talking about a particular part of the game. The doll house. My good damn, goddamn, god. This might genuinely be one of the most scary and harrowing gameplay sections ever. When I reviewed The Medium I said that game really kicked the horror thing up a notch. I still stand by that.

I think Resident Evil Village tops that, in this one particular area. The doll house leaves you as defenseless as newborn babe and transitions into a deathly quiet escape room. I have never, in all my life, had a shiver consume so much of my body and for so long. I was driven almost to my absolute limit, taking constant breaks. Eating, pausing, and just plain old sitting in a closet in the dark.

Weapons

There’s quite a lot of variety in your arsenal, both in weapon types and then the weapons in those types. You get pistols, shotguns, snipers, rifles, knives, and more. Pretty good to be honest.

Resident Evil Village crystal

Some variety in these are things like the regular pistol up to a small machine pistol. Or a pump action shotgun up to a much stronger semi-automatic. There are also some weapons that can only be obtained after finishing the game once from the Extras Shop. Like a rocket pistol and a lightsaber.

Very nicely is the return of a sniper rifle. I must say, this might be the best feeling sniper rifle in a Resident Evil game. It’s not exactly saying a lot, snipers have always felt like dog in RE games. That being said, it doesn’t feel too bad in Resident Evil Village and the aim actually works which is a nice addition. Not to mention the improvements with customizations and upgrades that deal massive damage.

The gunplay in RE7 was not particularly good, it was the first first-person RE game after all. So some slack should be given. Despite this though, Resident Evil Village goes a long way to making everything feel better. Aim is tuned up, recoil is slightly toned down, and reloading is smoother. The addition of upgrades goes a long way to make each weapon feel even better as you play.

Merchant

Welcome back Resident Evil 4. The Duke is the new merchant for Resident Evil. All jokes about his appearance aside, I actually really like him. He is both shrewd and, frankly, incredibly helpful. Both in the services he provides and the information he provides Ethan. His main functions are buying and selling, weapon upgrading, and cooking.

I’ll start with the weirder one, cooking. After you have made some progress you will gain the option to hand over some ingredients. These are collected from killing livestock around the village. Pigs, goats, chicken, and fish. There are even some rare instances of each of these too, that give you a rare ingredient. Giving the Duke the right combo of ingredients gives you a permanent buff to something like max HP. Just don’t be a dingus like me and sell the ingredients instead of waiting for the cooking to be unlocked.

Resident Evil Village Duke

Buying and selling is self explanatory, sell treasure and buy weapons, ammo, and things like that. There’s not much nuance here, it’s just a solid set up.

Then you have the weapon upgrading, which I love. You can upgrade each of your weapons in multiple ways, from damage to reload speed. Each of these stats will be upgraded with the money that you gain through playing and selling. Some of it will be gradual, like only getting a single level for each at the beginning. My favourite part of this is that if you have a weapon that you like, you can upgrade it as you go, keeping it. It’s nice because you’re always evolving as you fight on, doing more damage or reloading faster, and shooting more.

Exploration

Resident Evil Village is pretty exploration forward but only if you want it to be. The game is constantly nudging you to explore, collect, break, and find everything. Opening new areas as you go, getting new keys to go back and use, and things like that. However, it’s fully the choice of the player as to whether they want to or not.

If you don’t care about treasure, new weapons, or optional mini-bosses then you can just skip it all without penalty. However, if you do take the time, wander, open all doors and paths, and fight everything you’re rewarded. Often handsomely. With treasure, weapons, and upgrades all which can really come in handy.

Treasure

Resident Evil Village has an interesting way of handling treasures. The first is just picking up bags of money, pretty standard. These come from killing enemies, opening boxes, and just finding it lying around, as you do. This gives you immediate funds to spend at the Duke.

Resident Evil Village puppet

Next are the different treasure items, the same as above really. The one difference is that sometimes these can be found on walls or ceilings. Shooting the shining spots makes them fall down for you to pick up. The bigger the enemy, normally the bigger the reward. Beating bosses, mini-bosses, and the like give much larger and better rewards. These can actually be sold to the Duke to make a little bit extra scratch. 

Finally, probably the coolest of the three, is the combinable treasures. Along your treasures you might come across a treasure that isn’t quite complete. A doll without a head or a necklace missing some jewels. You can actually hold onto these treasures until you have all the pieces and combine them. Making them much more valuable and thus gaining more funds.

I really like this final one a lot, it doesn’t add a lot to the gameplay, it’s just neat.

Mercenaries

This is a bit of side content that was missing for a little while in the series. It’s basically a time based horde mode. You go from map to map, round to round, murderfying all the monsters that come at you.

You start each attempt with your trusty pistol and knife. If it’s your first time on a map, you’ll have basically no money and so must go in ill prepared. You will spawn in a certain area of the game, actually getting a decent amount of space. You’ll have to run around killing all the ghoulies that rear their ugly heads. 

Each round will have a goal and a maximum number of enemies that will spawn. When you hit the goal an exit portal will appear on the map and you can continue. Alternatively, you can just continue the slaughter and kill all that which is undead.

Resident Evil Village tactical turtleneck

During your jaunt through the map you will find some glowing orbs, of different colours. These are buffs and bonuses that you can pick up. Some will give you extra time on the clock, whilst others will give you a choice of power up. There will be three to choose from, such as more damage with a weapon type, or no damage whilst blocking. These buffs carry over between rounds so it’s good to pick em up. 

At the end of your run your points will be totted up and a score given. In letter form and the more points, the better the letter. If you get a good enough score then you can unlock the next map to try out.

Mercenaries is a welcome return and is frankly a hecka lotta fun. As just an added time trial mode, it’s surprisingly engaging. Frankly it’s unbelievably therapeutic.

Problems?

My one and only gripe, is that I prefer the third-person style of RE2 remake. That’s literally it. It’s not even that I don’t like the first-person view. I’m an avid fan of FPS games of all sorts. I simply have a preference for almost all games to be in third-person. Games like Mass Effect, Gears, Kingdom Hearts, and Dark Souls. All different genres and styles but all favourites of mine and all third-person.

Visuals? 10/10 – One of the best and most hauntingly beautiful game I’ve played

I found Resident Evil Village to be mind blowing visually. I’ve said it many times before but I’m not very technical when it comes to visual and audible minutiae. I do have a pair of working eyes though and can see when something looks good. So much of this game looks good to me.

Resident Evil Village castle

There is also a lot of variation in the environments that you will see too. This adds favourable points for me. Examples of some great vistas are things like the cliffside manor in front of a giant waterfall, or a Draculian castle surrounded by a snowy mountainside. They both look drastically different but equally awe inspiring. It really does have some range.

Then there’s the interiors of different areas, again looking wildly different. With a dated but well maintained castle, to a dark and narrow factory that;s falling apart. A quaint manor with way too many puppets. Resident Evil Village really has it all.

You have character and enemy models that are just very well done. Specifically I think they are better done than RE7. Both in terms of overall design and variation. The first one that comes to mind is Chris Redfield, who does not look good in RE7. The updated character model was atrocious. Thankfully they’ve gone back to a more RE5/6 style Chris. He has gone back to being jacked and wears a tactical turtleneck. So you know he means business.

Then the enemy designs, some of these are so so good. For one, the boss design is probably the best of the whole series, hands down. That’s not even mentioning a tall, elegant lady that has captured the internet’s… heart. The final boss, for example, looks like it was taken straight out of Bloodborne and I goddamn love it.

RE Engine

I was giving it some serious thought and I don’t think there’s an engine that I like more. Almost every game that I play that uses it wows me. You see RE7 and you go damn, RE2 and you’re like that’s crazy, even Monster Hunter Rise is mad. Then Resident Evil Village comes along and just blows all the rest out of the water I think.

Resident Evil Village waterfall

There are other more prestigious and well used engines, obviously, however I really think the RE Engine is something special. 

Audio? 10/10 – Expert direction which frequently removes, rather than bloats. It builds some of the most crazy tension

They nailed it. 

There’s very little that I would complain about with the sound design. Much like the audio direction found in the Resident Evil 2 Remake, Resident Evil Village is masterclass in atmosphere. Building tension with sound effects, music, chatter, and the like. In some areas all ambient sound and music is just turned off. So all you hear is Ethan’s breathing and footsteps. It’s in these areas that the game builds even more tension and atmosphere.

One area in particular is one of the most haunting sections of almost any horror game I’ve played. From the tips of my toes, to the very top of my crown I had a constant shiver and tingle. I genuinely “hate” how much it got me. Especially with the game providing so little actual audio. That’s the genius of it though I suppose.

Going a bit further the weapons and their myriad effects sound pretty darn good. From blasting with a shotgun to loading your trusty 9mm. All of the effects are gritty and I assume realistic. Not a gun toting patriot so I’m not sure but it’s a satisfying sound. Every magazine load, or shell load and pump sounds fantastic.

Story? 9/10 – An incredibly solid story for a Resident Evil game. With some really good characters, an emotional driving force and especially a satisfying ending

The story is simple, after the Baker incident Ethan and Mia have a child, Rose, and have moved. Seemingly in witness protection, provided by Redfield, the family is doing well and happy. Until, well they’re not. Chris betrays Ethan and Mia, killing the latter and kidnapping Ethan and Rose.

Luckily or unluckily, the transport is taken down and Ethan is left to his own devices. With one thing on his mind, finding Rose, he makes his way to the nearby village. He is almost instantly beset by ungodly beasts that are tearing through the town and killing everyone. Eventually he is captured and taken to the leader of the supernatural cult. Lord Gwyn and the bearers of the four Lord Souls. Sorry, spoilers there… hehe.

Resident Evil Village bad chris

Contrary to a lot of people’s opinion, I wasn’t overly fond of the RE7 focus on the Baker family. Whilst I think there are a lot, a lot, of positives to that game, the focus was off. I personally think that Resident Evil Village handles things much better, both with the evolution of Ethan and his family, and the enemies. 

I’ll put this here at the end and I won’t actually go into detail to avoid spoilers. I think the ending to Resident Evil Village is entirely satisfying. The end of the game and the final cutscene is superb and I am a massive fan. There is a bit of a twist at the end, which I almost guessed. Unusually for me in these sorts of games, I was actually wrong. So that was a nice surprise.

Acting? 9/10 – Long gone is the nearly unbearable cheese of Resident Evil of very old. A competent performance with powerful (literally) characters

There really isn’t much to complain with the acting overall. This is quite similar to RE7, which also had some really good voice acting. This actually sets these 2 newer entries in the RE series from the older and remasters. Of which the cheese and dated-ness still shines through. For Resident Evil recently toned down the cheese quite a fair bit, which I’m a fan of.

Chris has a few slips in his speeches. Other than that though, I don’t think there’s a single bad performance in the game. For my favourites, I really like Tall Lady, Heisenberg, and Ethan himself. 

Specifically for Lady Dimitrescu, I really like when she talks. Almost all of the dialogue is compelling, not just because of her imposing height. She almost captures the room, in an admittedly unsettling way. For obvious reasons.

Resident Evil Village heisenberg

Heisenberg is just a delight the whole time. He’s over the top and somewhat manic. Yet he is absolutely in control and has his own plans at all times. He also appears to be the powerhouse of cult and he definitely knows it and shows it.

Then finally Ethan, it’s not quite bravado or confidence. It’s more akin to pure unadulterated desperation. I actually felt genuinely choked up in more than a few scenes because of it. Some of these drip with the raw emotion of a man literally falling apart trying to save his family. I don’t think an RE protagonist has ever been this compelling.

Something surprising is how good the monster’s voices are. From the snarls of lycans, to the natter of puppets and the groans of the corpses. Even the cries of goo baby monsters. The last of which may haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life frankly.

Writing? 9/10 – A solid set of threads that really builds a solid world. Rocketing Ethan to my favourite male protagonist in Resident Evil

I’m gonna say this now, Resident Evil Village is one of the most competently written Resident Evil games. That’s not to say that it’s perfect but in comparison to other titles it is leaps and bounds ahead.

The first highlight is that it references previous games and events. It does it almost nonchalantly at times, an otherwise throwaway line. If however you’ve played previous titles and have a bit of meme knowledge, the importance is increased. For example, mentioning that Chris punches a damn boulder in RE5 and the merchant harks back to RE4’s “Whattaya buyin’?”. 

Resident Evil Village arrow in the knee

There are also references to RE7 and what happened to Ethan at the Baker’s house. This actually goes a long way to explaining some of the healing mechanics in this game. It almost becomes plausible, real. Well, in the context of the Resident Evil universe. It’s not just all magic video game healing potion logic.

A slightly less Resident Evil reference is when you also take a very Bethesda “arrow to the knee”. Literally. It did make me cackle when it happened.

My favourite part of the whole thing is how well Ethan is presented. This is both better than in RE7 but also, I think, better than the other Dude-Bros from the series. Ethan is a father  and husband that has lost both, he will do anything to save his daughter. He will take any amount of risk, danger, and harm to make sure Rose is saved and returned to him. This will be a bit of a spoiler but it’s relevant so WARNING. 

Spoiler

At one point, Ethan is offered a partnership. This partnership would effectively have his fighting force increase significantly and make the final boss trivial. The catch is that for this partnership, the other party wants to use Rose, Ethan’s daughter, as a weapon. This is unacceptable to Ethan, to him, she is his daughter and he must protect her. When he is hanging over a precipice he lets go, refusing the alliance and solidifying his one potential ally.

This shows an unreal level of character from Ethan. He would rather risk almost certain death than to use his daughter. Nothing will make him falter from that single minded aim. I love this about him.

Spoiler End

All of this is in stark contrast to the Mega-Chads of Chris and Leon. The other main men in the Resident Evil series. Both only do what they do and go where they go because it’s their job. Leon goes to Raccoon City because he’s starting as a cop there. Chris only goes to the Arklay Mountains because he’s a member of STARS. Leon only goes to save Ashley because he works for the President. Chris only goes to Africa because he works for the BSAA.

You can say they go above and beyond but it’s only in the interest of doing their job. In the end Chris and Leon just be suplexing their way to a paycheck. Ethan is entirely selfless and is wreaking havoc for the sole purpose of saving his family. Ethan is the best Resident Evil Male protagonist.

Performance? 10/10 – A flawless experience on the Xbox Series X

I played Resident Evil Village on an Xbox Series X, using the Series X version of the game with Smart Delivery. With a 4K 120 TV, with VRR and I turned ray tracing on. I say all this now because my tv may well have compensated for any dips in frames.

Resident Evil Village factory

All I can say is that with my setup, it ran as perfectly as I could have hoped. I personally didn’t experience any dips, tearing, or the like. I didn’t have a single crash the entire time. I’m not sure but it seemed like Resident Evil Village had Quick Resume turned on too. As after playing for the night, I returned the following afternoon and was taken immediately to the pause menu where I left it.

I had the absolute perfect Next/New Gen experience with this game.

Fun Factor? 8/10 – An absolute blast. The fun is only lessened by how much a coward I am and how scary some parts are.

I sometimes wonder if I’m unfair in this section when it comes to horror or horror-lite games. I’m neither good nor typically like them. There are exceptions and I’ve become significantly better with them recently. Having played and loved Little Hope and The Medium.

That being said, some parts are almost too scary for me. As someone who is not good at horror or horror games. This is the case with Resident Evil Village.

I loved exploring the Village (you know, like the name of the game) and the castle especially. These are really well done and have very clear progression paths. You’re constantly unlocking new areas, new items, and paths back. It is deeply satisfying.

The gunplay has been significantly improved over RE7 as well. With more weapon variety, a merchant to upgrade them, and permanent buffs through food. Again, the constant progression and getting stronger is satisfying.

Then you come to the, not worst, scariest section, for me. The defenseless, haunting, and stressful escape room. Taking inspiration from games like PT and Outlast. You must fumble through puzzles and the dark to make your escape. Whilst, no spoilers, god-knows-what is hunting you down there. I had to keep taking breaks, like a lot of them. Sometimes just pausing so I could breathe, hiding in a locker for longer than necessary. The worst, I had to take a break to eat half an apple pie and a whole sachet of custard and watch YouTube.

Resident Evil Village the lady

Whilst stress isn’t fun for me, the game hit the exact spot it aimed for. It executed everything perfectly and I loved that. It would haunt my nights forever but a whole serious horror game like that would be incredible.

Value? 10/10 – If you like horror games, Resident Evil, or especially Resident Evil 7 this is a must. Also welcome back Mercenaries.

This is an easy one and kind of aligns with my recommending this game. The value is impeccable with Resident Evil Village, there are so few shortfalls throughout. That’s a little vague but suffice it to say, you get more than your money’s worth here.

First of all, you get possibly the best technically and best looking RE game to date. You get a compelling story,  scenarios, and much tighter gunplay than RE7. The game takes quite obvious inspiration from a lot of other games, both in and beyond the RE series.

You get a merchant much like RE4, there’s an escape room like PT, there’s an area that’s all dark and tight corridors like RE2. So on and so forth. The game changes and adapts as you play, almost becoming different horror genres as you go.

Resident Evil Village is reasonably lengthed. For me it took a bit under 10 hours for my first run. This unlocks the possibility for secret weapon unlocks and infinite ammo. These are always fun. It also now has the highest difficulty unlocked to add more challenge.

Resident Evil Village you what mate

Then there’s the return of Mercenaries, which I am a fan of having had fond memories of this mode in RE5. Being able to just decimate hordes of monsters that tormented you all game is very therapeutic. Then as you get better and better scores, you unlock new maps for even more carnage.

Finally, I think this should sort of count but you get access to RE:Verse. The third-person competitive shooter, which is a separate game. This is given for free when purchasing Resident Evil Village, so is a nice bonus. Unfortunately it has been delayed and is not currently available. So no comment on whether it’s good or not.

How Much Did The Reviewer Enjoy It? 9/10 – I loved my time In Resident Evil Village and I shall be returning very soon!

Let me start by saying Resident Evil 2 Remake is my favourite Resident Evil game. Simply because I prefer third-person and slow moving zombies. RE2 is still, in my opinion, the best zombie game ever made. So what does this mean for Resident Evil Village? The answer is that it’s technically better. In almost every way.

The acting, the graphics, the enemy design and variety, the vistas and set pieces, and the acting. All of it is just better. Resident Evil Village, in my humble-ish opinion, is the best Resident Evil game ever made. It takes inspiration from a lot of the past games, and uses other games too, and molds them to near perfection.

As of this moment, Resident Evil Village is my pick for GOTY 2021. This is likely to change with the Mass Effect Legendary Edition. All that has to do is start up and it’ll win. However, if you remove remasters or collections, Resident Evil Village is at the top. Even looking on the horizon, I don’t see much coming for sure that would beat it for me.

Resident Evil Village oooooo

Resident Evil Village literally only loses a point because I needed a couple of breaks whilst playing a certain escape room section, as well as after the game had finished. Horror games tend to tire me out with stress! That being said, I will 100% be jumping back in multiple times yet. With the return of Mercenaries mode too, there’s still plenty of things for me to get my hands bloodied with.

If you are a fan of Resident Evil, especially RE7, it would be a disservice to miss this. Resident Evil Village seems like the culmination of all the work throughout the series. Wrapping it all up into a neat little Transylvanian package, ready to rip you apart instead.

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