Thanks to Capcom’s fantastic marketing, you’d be forgiven in thinking that its latest entry in the iconic survival horror series was called Resident Evil: Tall Vampire Lady. However, Resident Evil Village isn’t just about Lady Dimitrescu – it’s actually one of the best horror games in recent times. Here’s our spoiler-free review of Resident Evil Village.
Resident Evil Village is set three years after the events of Resident Evil 7. Ethan and Mia Winters are now seemingly living a happy life, and are proud parents of baby Rose. However, trouble soon comes to the door of the Winters’ home when a military squad led by Chris Redfield kidnaps baby Rose in the dead of the night.
Ethan then awakens in a remote village deep within the mountains. With no idea of the dangers that he will soon face, Ethan embarks on a mission to rescue his family, survive and return home. However, the village is governed by four sinister residents, Dimitrescu, Benevento, Moreau, and Heisenberg, led by the evil Mother Miranda. They will stop at nothing to ensure Ethan and his family don’t make it out in one piece.
Graphics and Style
Resident Evil Village is quite simply one of the best-looking games on the PlayStation 5. On PS5 you can choose to play with ray-tracing on or off. Whether you choose ray-tracing or not, the frames-per-second won’t take much of a hit. Without ray-tracing, the game will perform at around 60fps, and around 45fps with it turned on. In my opinion, I’d play Resident Evil Village with ray-tracing if possible, at the expense of just 15fps.
Whichever visual/performance features you activate, Resident Evil Village looks stunning. From the cold mountain top village to the vintage exterior of the gothic castle, the environments are breathtaking. It’s also worth noting the truly nightmarish enemy designs, with attention to detail even going as far as highlighting the puff of a werewolf’s breath as it lurks within a cornfield. Make no mistake, Resident Village can be as grotesque as it is beautiful.
One issue that I also had with Resident Evil 7 was the lack of variety of enemies in the game. Other than a few variations, and of course the members of the Baker family, there wasn’t all that much diversity with the enemies. However, without giving anything away, I’m glad to report that it’s no longer an issue in Resident Evil Village, as you’ll encounter your fair share of enemy types in this latest outing.
Even without the fantastic voice cast and chilling soundtrack, Resident Evil Village utilises some of the best forms of audio design I’ve experienced, a trend that has perhaps continued from the 2019 Resident Evil 2 remake. Whether you use a headset or not, when you’re in the dingy dungeons or sneaking through the whistling trees of a forest, you can hear each and every sound around you.
Aside from the monsters and haunting locations, nothing perhaps keeps you more on edge than hearing groans of the ghouls, the howl of a werewolf, a creak of a floorboard, or faint footsteps in the next room. Everything about Resident Evil Village is designed to keep you on edge, and it’s a triumphant success.
If you’ve played Resident Evil 7, then you’ll feel at home with RE Village’s first-person perspective. For the most part, the way you manoeuvre throughout its world and how you handle combat, Resident Evil Village will feel familiar for most. However, it has introduced some new gameplay features, or I should say, the return of some fan-favourite features.
One of the most intense elements of the Resident Evil 2 remake, was being constantly perused by Mr. X. In RE Village, at least during her sections, an angry Lady Dimitrescu will hunt you in her castle, and in my opinion, she’s scarier than Mr. X. Sure, we can all say that we want to get chased by the “Tall Vampire Lady ”, but trust me, when she’s coming at you, your instinct will be to run like hell.
Resident Evil Village also sees the return of a merchant, this time by the name of The Duke. This jolly fella will sell you weapons, ammo, blueprints, upgrades, and of course, you can sell items to make some extra money. Also, similar to that of Resident Evil 4, each time you kill an enemy they will drop some currency or items of worth that you can sell to The Duke. Various resources can also be found that you can craft into health and ammo on the go.
The Duke will also bring some side activities in the form of cooking him some delicious meals. Throughout the map are treasures that you can sell on. However, by hunting certain animals, you can gather meat and hand it in to The Duke so that he will cook up a meal. Depending on what meat you’ve acquired or what meals you select, you’ll be able to give Ethan permanent boosts to his health, damage intake, or blocking of enemy attacks. It’s a refreshing change to see this level of crafting within a Resident Evil game, and it’s a very welcome addition.
Upon completing the story, one of the most exciting unlocks is the returning Mercenaries mode. Absent since Resident Evil 6, this high octane mode will have you attempting to survive as you try to make it from point A to point B, racking up big kill combos for the best score in the fastest time possible. I’ve always been a big fan of The Mercenaries, and I can see much of my RE Village endgame time being spent on this highly addictive mode. Once again, it’s another success from Capcom, and should please those who might find the main campaign too short for the AAA price tag.
When it comes to accessibility, Resident Evil Village is quite basic. You have your generic brightness/contrast, audio, and subtitle options, and from what I can tell, there’s not all that much in terms of accessibility features for those that might have sight or hearing problems. Hopefully, these accessibility options can be added at a later date. If you’re struggling with the firearms of Resident Evil Village, there is also an aim assist if you need it, as well as various difficulty modes.
One issue that I did have initially was with the camera wobble when Ethan is moving as I can get motion sickness quite easily. Thankfully you can turn off the camera wobble within the options. There’s also a Motion Sensor Mode which will move the in-game camera based upon the movement of the motion sensor in the DualSense controller.
Speaking of the DualSense controller, up until recently I’ve not really thought much of the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. However, in Resident Evil Village, these controller features are incredible. It’s not simply a cliché – you can really feel the weight, trigger, and impact of each weapon.
Whether you use a handgun, shotgun, or sniper rifle, each weapon in Resident Evil Village quite literally feels unique. Now that I’ve experienced the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers to such a level in RE Village, it’s now going to be odd going back to other games. If these features are too much, there’s an option to turn them off completely or adjust them to your preference in the PS5 system settings.
In truth, I’m really struggling to think of anything negative to say about Resident Evil Village. That said, if I’m going to have at least one criticism of the game, it’s that it’s way too dark at times. I’m not talking about the dark themes of the game, but rather what you can see on screen. I get that most horror games need to be dark to suit the tone, but Resident Evil Village had me ramping up the brightness/contrast settings just so that I can see my surroundings a little clearer, and even then, it was still too dark at times.
Is Resident Evil Village Fun To Play?
Resident Evil Village can be as equally as fun as it can be stressful, but that’s what makes a good Resi game. Capcom’s latest offering benefits from excellent pacing, which keeps you playing more. As much as I liked Resident Evil 7, by the time I got to that tanker section, the game felt like it was being dragged out. Thankfully I had no issues with the pacing of Resident Evil Village.
Resident Evil Village knows when to keep you on edge and when to scare you, and it also knows when to give the player a chance to breathe. It doesn’t matter if you’re being stalked by Lady Dimitrescu and harassed by her daughters or if you’re going on a treasure hunt, Resident Evil Village knows when to crank up the volume and when to tone it down.
Should You Play Resident Evil Village?
One of the criticisms of Resident Evil 7 from some fans was that it didn’t feel much like a Resident Evil game, though it certainly had its nods to the series. While RE Village does carry much of the DNA from RE7, it also pays homage to previous games in the franchise. Village has a distinct Resident Evil 4 flavour, with perhaps a hint of the original game, especially when exploring Lady Dimitrescu’s castle and the village.
Resident Evil Village takes elements of what worked well in previous games, but also evolves them into something new for the series. The game provides moments of genuine horror, but will still entice you to come back for more, even if it’s to just be chased by Lady Dimitrescu. To put it simply, barring remakes, Resident Evil Village is the best entry in the series since Resident Evil 4.
Resident Evil Village releases May 7, 2021 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows.
*Resident Evil Village also includes the six-player online multiplayer game, Resident Evil Re:Verse. However, this will not launch until this coming summer and has not been included in this review.
Review copy of Resident Evil Village provided by publisher. This review of Resident Evil Village was conducted on PS5.
Featured Image Credit: Capcom