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Kyle Blooicide

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Review Date:

09/05/21, 16:47

Resident Evil: Village Review

Resident Evil has been in gamers lives since 1996 when the first game debuted on the PlayStation One (PS1). For a long time after that debut, Resident Evil has held its place as one of the best horror video game franchises available today. It has single handily fought off some of the strongest competitors with titles like Silent Hill and Alone in the Dark. Sadly, after a while of holding this lead, during the introduction of Resident Evil 5, the series had begun to lose track of its roots, oping to be an action-packed monster shooter, as opposed to the slow-puzzle based horror experience it was known for in its prime. But when Resident Evil 7 was released in 2017, it was hugely praised by critics due to its deep dive back into its horror origins and adopting of old formulas of which fans had come to miss in modern horrors. With Resident Evil Village (RE8) taking place after the events of 7 and taking gamers back to playing as the unlucky protagonist, Ethen, the questions stands: Will RE8 be able to hold up to the epic horror that was set out before it, or will it once again return fans to the series track history of losing momentum just as it’s about to get good? Check out our review of Resident Evil: Village below to find out.

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Story: The Next Step In Resident Evil Evolution

"In typical Resident Evil fashion, the story begins to drip-feed darker tones and the feeling of something isn’t right here"

The story of Resident Evil: Village start us off in control of a very calm Ethan who is living his life with his wife Mia and daughter Rosa. Although things are calm, in typical Resident Evil fashion, the story begins to drip-feed darker tones and the feeling of ‘something isn’t right here. Very quickly after these moments, a traumatic event unfolds and Ethan finds himself awake in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by dead bodies and something stalking him from within the shadows. It is from this moment that Resident Evil: Village sets its story tones, giving us a whole lot of questions, always answering them with more questions. This formula was actually what made the story for Resident Evil 7 really good, and it’s nice to see it return once again in this next instalment.

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The story of Resident Evil: Village is drip-fed to players as they progress through its events. Each section of the game presents the player with a different opponent who ultimately has their own story arc to add to the overall story. They also have their own origin story to uncover AND elements that feed to the overall Resident Evil Series. The core story elements that these antagonists bring is usually delivered in grand gameplay moments and cutscenes, where they profess what they know to the protagonist Ethan as they try to cut him down. However, for those players who like to explore the deeper lore, they will find photos, diaries, items and so much more that will give players a better idea of what is happening. I personally found myself re-visiting areas just to make sure I didn’t miss anything as I felt compelled to understand what was happening before the story told me.


Without spoiling anything, the ending of Resident Evil: Village is extremely satisfying, eventually answering the majority of questions that players have built during the events of the game. However, I will say that a small handful of the minor plot points which are tied together feel a little forced (or maybe rushed). There’s a specific moment I’m thinking of in which it feels like the developers had a sudden idea late into the game's production and just stitched it in by adding a letter that is left on a desk. For those who are wondering, I feel that the story which Resident Evil: Village delivers, is better than most of the other stories that we’ve experienced with Resident Evil before, making it one of the strongest entries for moving the overall Resident Evil Saga story forwards.

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Gameplay: A Varied Experience of Horror Formulas

"The overall gameplay of this title is broken up into segments, which all offer different styles of gameplay to beat"

Resident Evil: Village delivers fans one of the most varied gameplay experiences ever witnessed in a horror title before, period. It has its weaknesses, but I would argue that this entry actually pushes the Resident Evil gameplay formula much further than it’s been pushed before. At a first glance, Resident Evil: Village presents itself as an action survival shooter, where players are given a huge array of weapons, which allow you to think about how you should approach your target. BUT, to those who think just standing there shooting enemies will work, then you’re wrong. In fact, in this title that’s a death sentence. Resident Evil: Village forces players to consider how they approach each interaction with its varied array of enemies. Will you sneak by, due to having a limited amount of Ammo, or are you going to lock and load and empty everything you have left on the pack of enemies ahead of you? One thing I would say is, I implore anyone who wants the best experience with this title to play it on ‘Hardcore’ difficulty, as the difficulties under this are FAR too easy, making the game come across as action-orientated as opposed to horror.


The overall gameplay of this title is broken up into segments, which all offer different styles of gameplay to beat. In the earlier instances of the game when players are put up against Lady Dimitrescu, they are poorly equipped and relatively weak. This means that a more reserved and stealthy approach is the best way to survive in the castle setting that players will find themselves in. Whereas in another area of the game, players will have all items removed from them and will find themselves in an experience more similar to the ‘run and hide mechanics’ found in the hit horror series Outlast. It’s between these segments, where players are in the village travelling to their next adversary, that they will experience the more action-orientated gameplay. As packs of Lycans will ambush the player, trying to halt their progress as much as possible and drain resources. I love this diversity in the gameplay as it allowed me to consistently enjoy each moment, never finding myself getting bored from repetitive moments (not present in Village), which have appeared in ALL of the previous entries before. There is a point in this game, however, where players will basically be a walking tank with a huge amount of ammo, a huge amount of HP and a series of brutal weaponry. Whilst this moment definitely took the game RIGHT out of its horror elements, it was needed to serve the purpose of the story it was trying to tell and only makes up for a tiny sum of the game.

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There are a lot of side activities to undertake in Resident Evil: Village, which will have players hunting for animals, money, weapons and so much more. These side activities can feel trivial at times, but all help strengthen Ethan's readiness for his inevitable final showdown at the end of this title. I wouldn’t say there is anything special that is done here, which we haven’t seen in other games, but it is nice being able to enhance our characters HP, to take more of a beating. The upgrading system is simple, as you progress through the game you will be able to take your weapons to a vendor called ‘The Duke’. This vendor will upgrade your weapon stats and will open up more options as you get deeper into the game. Additionally, you can find weapon attachments that will further enhance a specific thing about your gun. This may be damage output or even bigger ammo clips. This allows for a small amount of customisation in what weapon you prioritise, however – all weapons feel equally effective in different scenarios. Additionally, you can take animal meat to the Duke, who will turn them into meals that upgrade key stats such as HP, or Weapon Sway.


Finally, let’s talk about the variation in enemies. There are LOTS of different enemy types to fight, and each one has a unique way to bring it down. To avoid spoilers, I’m only going to talk about the ones that have been shown in any trailers here. Lycans come in packs, and usually like to bundle up in groups of 3 or more all rushing the player to bring them down. Players will need to shoot out their legs to slow them down and fill them with bullets to bring them down. Whereas the bigger Werewolf beast we’ve seen which wield an Axe can be entirely avoided by retreating or will need a huge amount of ammo and dodging skill to bring down. If you opt to run, then stealth is the key to survival here. If you opt to fight, then… I hope you have an arsenal of ammo with you! Although, dying isn’t too punishing if you don’t succeed, with fair checkpoints usually taking you to the beginning of any encounter to simply try again.

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Graphics: Next Generation Resident Evil On A Previous Gen

"Human characters in this game look good, but they don’t quite pass the look of a character you would expect to see in a next-generation game or even a late previous-gen game"

To say it plainly Resident Evil: Village is the BEST looking Resident Evil game to date, however, it never feels quite like its fully using the next-generation software for high-end PC’s, PlayStation 5 Consoles or the Xbox Series X. Don’t get me wrong though this game looks absolutely breathtaking, but when you compare it to an actual next-generation game like ‘Returnal’, then suddenly its faults can be identified. I would say that Resident Evil: Villages key issues primarily come from its human character models as opposed to its environments and monsters. Let’s break into this in a little more detail.


Human characters in this game look good, but they don’t quite pass the look of a character you would expect to see in a next-generation game or even a late previous-gen game. Let’s use Gears of War 5 and The Last of Us: Part II to compare. In both of these titles, although different art styles, characters look hyper-realistic. Hair flows nicely and skin bends and warps around each characters face perfectly. Both games animate beautifully with realistic-looking pours and light shimmering off of the subtle dousing of sweat on each character's face. This feels distinctly missing for some of the cast in Resident Evil: Villages. I mean again, to re-iterate characters look GOOD, don’t get me wrong, especially Chris Redfield as seen in the trailer. But it’s not consistent across the entire cast. When you look at Mia for example, (who we see closely in earlier segments of the game) her skin looks very flat and untextured in comparison to Chris. What’s incredibly weird though is that the enemies who look human, do not suffer from this issue… it actually only seems to be a handful of characters who lack this depth.

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Resident Evil: Village has seriously taken its time in building up different adversaries for the player to bring down. The difference in these is incredibly diverse too! First of all, we have Lady Dimitrescu who actually is one of the best-looking human-style characters in the game. This 9’6 giant, shapely women, is evil in every sense of the word and just looking at her the player can tell that. When she smiles her face cracks and wrinkles in a way that makes you realise that this person is untrustworthy. Another cool feature and attention to detail for this character is that seemingly she has some sort of marking on her skin… now I cannot tell if this is simply due to her age or is down to the fact that these are stretch marks from being 9’6, but it’s this mixed with her extremely pale blue complexion, clearly indicates this person is not your average human. On the flip side to this, one of the first major enemy types we come across is a big Battle Hammer wielding, terrifying Lycan. The fur on this creature is insane, with each strand of fur looking unique and well animated, moving with the creature movements and the wind. As it snarls at you before each attack, its face wrinkles back giving off real emotion of hate, telling the player subconsciously, “You better run!”.


Finally, the environments of Resident Evil: Village are the best of any Resident Evil. They are extremely varied, offering all different styles for the player to witness. At one point in the game, I was in this beautifully upkept stately home, which then quickly and subtly turned into dingy poor kept corridors with poor lighting. This actually reminded me a lot of what we saw in P.T. No matter where you are lighting will play a key part in the game. In darker more typical horror focused areas, will have single lamps glowing, giving you a sense of direction to head in from the darkness that surrounds you. Whereas in the more industrial areas, flashing red lights, warning signs and exit signs will all form the key lighting to illuminate that area, giving that sense of danger around each corner. The art team over in Capcom have outdone themselves in this space, as this is easily one of the most varied games that this developer has ever done.

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Audio: Tension, Horror and Ambience in Perfect Harmony

The audio design in this title is insane, especially with the PlayStation 3D Surround Sound Technology. As I travelled around the areas of the Village, there were so many audio cues that gave me an idea of what the inevitable horror I was due to fight was. Whether it be the joined-up growling of a pack of Lycans or the patter of footsteps on metal, I knew that I needed to keep my wits about me. Capcom has really put a lot of effort into the ambience of this game and I definitely noticed it. In every area, sounds alone could instil the instant dread into a player. One key moment that completely messed me up was in a space where I was haunted by a crying baby. It was so unsuspected and sudden that it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The guns of Resident Evil are loud, and all have varied volumes for impact. The Pistol at the start of the game kind of just clashes as it fires, whereas the shotgun I unlocked lets off a huge boom. Playing the game on a loud volume with a 3D headset of some kind is 100% the best way to experience this.

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The music of Resident Evil: Village is not something that really is used to drive the horror, in fact, the game mainly uses music to help raise the tension in moments where you need to run, but then belts down to silence once you are in a position where you THINK you are safe. It's actually the ambience that leads the game in space. Silent areas will be filled with the distant sounds of enemies, crows cawing and flying above you. It can be so tense at times, that your own footsteps can begin to worry/haunt you. One key thing that I would have loved to have seen Resident Evil: Village do, is added even more creepy sounds in the form of paranormal. Whilst the enemies would give me a sense of un-nerve, I never really felt scared once I knew what enemy each sound linked to. I wish it added in a few more random sounds that haunt the player to make them THINK that something was coming when it was not.

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Review Summary:

Incredible

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Story: The Next Step In Resident Evil Evolution

Gameplay: A Varied Experience of Horror Formulas

Graphics: Next Generation Resident Evil On A Previous Gen

Audio: Tension, Horror and Ambience in Perfect Harmony

In summary Resident Evil: Village is a fantastic new direction for the series. It takes everything Resident Evil 7 did and raises it to the next level with completely diverse experiences for each chapter of the game. We would have loved to see MORE elements of traditional horror, which was found throughout the entirety of Resident Evil 7, but we appreciated the idea of giving players a new experience for each segment of the game to keep it interesting. The story in this title is the strongest it’s ever been, and ultimately sets up Resident Evil for an amazing and interesting looking future. The twists and turns on this game will keep lore hunters interested and I can imagine people are going to doing in-depth analysis to understand some more core parts of the story. We recommend that players avoid the casual and easy difficulties if they want a horror experience, as the hardcore difficulty makes ammunition and fund a lot more limited, meaning battles have to be approached with caution. The graphics for this game are incredible with the exception of a couple of character models, but we would highly urge that fans of the series play this title.


Resident Evil: Village is an astonishing game, which is one of the better games leading into this new generation of console. It runs incredibly impressive on the older hardware too, sometimes even looking as good as the next-generation consoles. Resident Evil: Village shows that Capcom is still not scared to experiment but know that they have to stick to the roots of the previous games to keep its fanbase interested. As a result of this review, we are awarding Resident Evil: Village with our second ‘Must Play Award’ for 2021! Congratulations Capcom and thank you for making such an incredible game!

Pros:

  • A Varied Horror Experiance


  • Grows on the Lore of Resident Evil


  • Awesome Graphics and Design


  • Incredible Ambience to Drive Terror


  • Sets Up The Future of Resident Evil

Cons:

  • Not as Scary as Resident Evil 7


  • Lady Dimitrescu Was Too Short Lived


  • Human Character Model Quality Not Consistent

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