Like many gamers I have spent most of my weekend trapesing around the isolated rural community of Resident Evil Village, Capcom’s latest instalment of the survival horror franchise recently released on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Taking the opportunity to explore every nook and cranny of the various locations, taking on the fearsome four lords of the titular village, and the different takes on the survival horror genre. PSA this article does contain spoilers for Resident Evil Village, so if you want to explore the game completely in the dark (both figuratively and, at times, literally) then you may want to stop reading here.
For starters RE Village merges a variety of different standard horror ideas and subgenres to create a game with a solid core narrative and enough variety in types of horror to keep a variety of people happy.
We have the beautiful gothic horror setting of Castle Dimitrescu, coupled with the joys of slasher film tropes when Ethan is stalked by everyone's favourite tall vampire lady, Lady Dimitrescu, around the castle.
The genuinely terrifying psychological horror section that occurs in House Beneviento, the Lovecraftian monster horror of the Moreau Reservoir and the steampunk robo-body horror in Heisenberg’s factory.
All capped off with a horror horde action sequence and an exciting final boss.
The different ways village uses the variety of horror themes is done so well, and the shifts in themes constantly keep the players on their toes, switching up what the player will expect and using them to create an oppressive atmosphere.
However, the game takes a view of almost rushing some of these aspects of the story, using some truly interesting characters as set pieces that felt they were rushed or put in and underdeveloped due to time constraints in development.
From a gameplay perspective, Village is pretty much the same as RE7, the addition of knocking back enemies is useful. However for most of the game the need for this is very minimal as the game puts a real focus on just shooting enemies (at least it does on standard difficulty).
I’m sure there are people reading this that have decided to use the counter mechanic more than I have, however during my play through I found I possibly under used it, relying more in my trusty shotgun to deal with enemies.
There are also areas in the final act of the game where the game seemingly shifts into a standard action FPS, almost dropping the horror for all out action, which is fun but almost the opposite tone of what a large amount of the earlier parts of the game are trying to convey.
On a gameplay note, the ‘Duke’ is possibly one of the best new additions. Basically, a jollier, less piratey, version of the Merchant from RE4. Duke’s role isn’t just here as a merchant to offer a range of weapon upgrades, supplies and meals, as well as someone to sell your spoils to. He exists as someone who provides Ethan with key information throughout the story. Providing necessary exposition and additional information to the goings on in the Village and its surrounding areas as well as some further information on the four lords, albeit briefly.
Moving on to the different horror styles as a device for narrative, this is where Village both shines and doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed Village, from its varying use of horror game styles and atmosphere, the intriguing narrative and even Ethan’s mildly amusing quips (most of which don’t quite land, bless him).
However, there is a seemingly slight disconnect between each of the lords, with none of them appearing again once you’ve beaten them in a boss fight of some form, and very little communication between them outside of the meeting at the start.
The game does provide some exposition through files etc but the fact that significant enemies are here for a few hours and gone the next feels almost episodic in nature, if it wasn’t for the underlying narrative of trying to save Rose the game could very well have been Revelations 3 and the disconnect of the individual story beats only exaggerate this feeling.
I know some of you who read my first impressions will call me out on doing a complete 180, however I did genuinely enjoy Village. The atmosphere the game created along with its visual and sound design are fantastic, and the scope of its lore is genuinely amazing.
For me it is the first game that has made really good use of Haptic Feedback by increasing and decreasing vibrations when being stalked around environments (great if you want help finding a certain 9ft6 woman) along with clicking when swapping between weapons adds to general immersion of the game.
Yet there are just some aspects that I feel didn’t quite hit the mark, which may be due to my overly lofty expectations considering the copious volumes of hype that have surrounded the games launch.
Regardless, Village is still a great gaming experience and does manage to throw in a couple of twists, most of which are sort of obvious in retrospect, and is highly enjoyable.
I just wish someone had maybe thought about how to make better use of certain characters to provide a more seamless narrative, that didn’t have to rely on the exposition room right at the climax of the story to drop a few additional twists.
This being said, I very much do intend on replaying Village as it did entertain me in a variety of ways (possibly other than House Beneviento, where I may pass the controller to someone else, because screw that nightmare fuel!).
Enjoying our work. Check out our social media links and give us a follow.
Keep it Gamer. Keep it Commie.