It was a bold move for Capcom to switch to a first-person perspective in Resident Evil 7, but the gamble paid off, and the game redefined the horror genre. Resident Evil Village builds on the foundation that RE7 laid and improves on some of its criticisms. It also introduces a shop in the game, changes up how some mechanics work and delivers an experience that fans of the franchise will definitely enjoy!
The story of Resident Evil Village kicks off a few years after the events of RE7. If you haven’t played RE7 (you really should), there is a recap at the beginning of the game to bring you up to speed. Since the story and some key events in both the games are connected, it's best to know what's going on to get a full grip of it all. It's an engaging story with quite the eventful twists and turns, and there are some ‘A-ha!’ moments for fans of the franchise. Without spoiling anything, you once again don the role of Ethan Winters. He is “trying” to lead an everyday life with his wife, Mia and their newborn daughter Rose. One evening his house is attacked by none other than series veteran Chris Redfield. Chris kills Mia and kidnaps Ethan and Rose. As expected, their convoy is stopped, and Ethan awakes at the edge of a village searching for his daughter.
As you have probably seen from the trailers and demo, the village is filled with all kinds of nasty. The village is looked after by a mysterious person - Mother Miranda. Miranda’s four children “rule” different parts of the Village. You have Castel Dimitrescu ruled by Lady Dimitrescu and her three daughters. Heisenberg has his factory where he produces some pretty nasty stuff. You have House Benevento (the lady in black with her puppet bride doll) and Moreau, who looks after the river, or swamp.
The premise of the game starts off pretty simple - find your daughter. But I can confidently tell you that the story takes some unexpected turns. If you are a fan of the franchise, this is one of the best RE stories out there. If you have only played RE7, then there is enough here to keep you hooked. I don't want to delve more into the story, as it is genuinely one of the game’s biggest highlights and one worth experiencing.
While the core gameplay is the same as RE7, Village has made some much-needed changes. Resident Evil Village is a first-person survival horror game with a lot of action thrown into the mix. While RE7 relied on action set pieces and a few ‘moulded’ enemies here and there, Village has some more emphasis on the action and has various enemies.
The environment in the game is divided into four areas, all of which are connected by the central settlement of the village. The game is a lot more open than RE7, with large areas to explore, some of which you can only access when you gain a new key or ability. After each significant encounter, you find yourself back in the settlement area. The game is linear, which means you can't tackle any of the four areas in any order you prefer.
Each area you visit brings something new to the table. Castle Dimitrescu, for example, is a massive mansion with hidden chambers and is full of puzzles. Adding to the tension is Lady Dimitrescu and her three daughters that follow you in the castle. While Lady Dimitrescu herself is slow, like Mr X from RE2, her daughters are more agile, and you need to escape from them quickly. House Beneviento, on the other hand, has you sneaking around and makes you feel like you are in an Escape Room and have to find the key to get out.
The beauty is that each of the four areas has its charm, its USP to keep things fresh, and each boss battle is unique. I don't want to delve more into the areas or details of the variety of enemies you will encounter but know that the variety is enough to keep things fresh throughout the 12 hours it took me to finish the game. The demo has shown off the Lycans, sword-wielding hooded figures and some flying enemies, but that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the variety of enemies you encounter.
The inventory management system in the game has changed for the better. No longer are crafting items, keys and collectables a part of your main inventory. They have a separate space, and weapons, ammunition and health items dominate your main inventory. Crafting items have a separate tab, so do the collectables you will use to open gates and solve puzzles. There is a separate tab for the collectables that you can sell to The Duke for Lei. It's good that items like keys and ingredients don't occupy the main inventory, and the “inventory management” is significantly reduced, letting you focus more on the game. Lei is the in-game currency.
The Duke is a new mysterious character who sets up shop at convenient locations throughout the game. He sells arms and ammunition and can also store your excess baggage, upgrade your storage capacity, and cook food for you. Yes, if you hunt for fish, chicken and meat in the game, the Duke can cook some interesting recipes. These recipes act as permanent character upgrades by enhancing your maximum health, letting you take less damage when blocking, so on and so forth. He can also upgrade your weapons. There are a lot of collectables in the game that you can sell to the Duke for Lei.
The new inventory management system and the new shopping mechanic are welcome changes from RE7.
Moving over to pacing, Resident Evil Village is very well-paced, offering a good mix of action, puzzles, mini boss and the final boss fights. The only downside is that once you’ve defeated the caretaker of a particular area, you can’t return there. So, you may want to scour the areas before leaving.
On the PS5 (review), there are some DualSense features implemented as well. It isn’t as detailed as Returnal (review), but you do get adaptive triggers offering different resistance based on the gun you are using. It's a slight touch but adds to the immersion.
It's tough to talk more about the gameplay of Resident Evil Village without spoiling it so let me leave you with this. Dead Space was one of my favourite survival horror games until Dead Space 2 came along and dialled everything to 11, and that's exactly what Resident Evil Village has done. It has taken a formula that made RE7 great, added to it, tweaked some of the frustrating elements, and delivered a cinematic horror experience. There are fewer jump scares this time around, and that's ok as the package on offer is enough to keep you at the edge of your seat.
Stunning is the first thing that comes to mind when you start playing Resident Evil Village. We played the game on a PS5 with Ray Tracing enabled, and let's get the worst out of the way. The framerate in the Moreau area sees some massive noticeable dips. The rest of the game has a solid enough framerate as not to hamper the experience.
Visually the game is stunning. From its cold white village to the large halls of the castles, the underground factory and even the swamp areas, it's all very diverse. The game may have 4-5 key areas you visit, but each one has a character of its own. Since the game is in first person, special emphasis has been made to ensure that the characters you encounter up close are detailed and very well animated. Standing inches away from Lady Dimitrescu’s face really does send shivers down your spine. The textures on some of the walls, however, feel slightly low resolution. There are also times, especially when you are running from one area to the next, when we notice some texture pop in.
While the game supports ray-tracing, one of the downsides is that many areas in the game are too dark. This does have a scary appeal in some areas, but in others, it feels more like a hindrance, especially if you are trying to solve a puzzle.
The weapons in the game have a detailed design but a special mention for the enemies you encounter. Sticking with the ones you may know of, the Lycans are well designed. Their hair moves naturally as they try to avoid your gunshots while the hoods of the sword-wielding enemies sway as they try to take a swing at you. Some of the NPC’s you encounter in the village are pretty scary, and a lot of this has to do with their design.
Overall, while RE Village may have some shortcomings, the overall package on offer is immersive, with rich, vibrant environments, diverse enemies to tackle, and realistic environments to traverse.
You know how there is an eerie silence in the night just before you hear a dog bark or the sudden horn of a car. That's the same feeling the sound design of RE Village gives you. You are walking through the settlement. It’s silent, except for the sound of your footsteps. And all of a sudden, you hear something above you, on the rooftops of the house. It's a Lycan. It roars. Suddenly, there's a pack of Lycans. It's this build-up that happens in a matter of seconds that's present in various capacities throughout the game and is proof of the importance of good sound design in a horror game.
Another special mention to the voice actors in the game. There were multiple times when I thought the game would get quite corny or cheesy, but it didn't. The voice acting is spot-on, from the impatient tone of Lady Dimitrescu to the condescending Heisenberg and even Mother Miranda.
I highly recommend you play this game with a pair of headphones. It is immersive, and when you hear a sound from behind you on the left, you better turn quickly.
Resident Evil Village is a culmination of everything the developer has learned over the past two and a half decades with the franchise. The move to first-person adds to the immersion. The shop and inventory management are a welcome change. The game’s pacing is spot on with a story that will definitely appeal to fans of the franchise and newcomers alike.
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Google Stadia, PC
Price: Consoles - Rs 3,999, PC - 3,499
We played a review copy of Resident Evil Village on the PS5.
|Release Date:||02 Feb 2021|
Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.
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