Resident Evil: Village (A Review)


Resident Evil as a franchise is celebrating its 25 year anniversary and part of that celebration brings us the next mainline entry to the series in the form of Resident Evil: Village. I’m going to bypass all the hyperbolic terminology that usually plagues my “articles” and get straight to the point… this game fucks and deserves to be played by everyone that has access to it. It is the perfect distillation of 25 years’ worth of entries all proudly wearing the RE banner. It is also one of the weirdest fucking games I’ve ever played as well. It straddles this line of actual terror inducing survival horror and more campy Universal style classic monster horror and does it so deftly that the tonal changes don’t leave you with any sort of whiplash.  The story itself is a direct continuation of the previous game Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The protagonist Ethan Winters narrowly survives the hell he was put through in that previous game with the help of series mainstay Chris Redfield. Together with Ethan’s wife Mia, Chris puts the both of them in protective custody in some random European city to live out their days without fear of reprisal from The Connections. The Connections are the stand in for the Umbrella Corporation which has now been completely dissolved by this point in the series mythology. In their time in this new home, they have a daughter named Rose and seem to be living out their lives full of bliss. Sadly, this being an RE game it all comes to a grinding halt in a shocking series of events that sees Chris seemingly murder Mia in cold blood and abduct Rose in the middle of the night.  One thing leads to the other and Ethan ends up in a remote “village” in search of answers as to where his daughter is and how he can get her back.  To reveal any more of the plot would be a real disservice to experiencing this story for the first time. RE: Village is a roller coaster of shocks and twists and turns that push the story along at a break neck pace while keeping you glued to the screen all the way to the bitter end.

From a story perspective, RE: Village is at the same time both dense and intimate in its ambition. While this is a story of scientific horrors run amok and the threat they pose to the outside world, it’s also a very small story of a father who just wants to save his daughter. Ethan is not some super soldier who is armed to the teeth will all manner of death dealing implements Rambo style. He’s not a guy who’s goal is to save the world and be seen doing it on a grand stage. Throughout the 11+ hours it takes to finish the campaign, Ethan’s sole focus is to just push past all the bullshit and get to his child as fast as possible. As a father myself with a young daughter, this resonated with me in a way I really wasn’t prepared for when talking about a Resident Evil game. Usually these games feature slow burn horrors or end of the world doomsday prophecies. So it’s a nice breath of fresh air to see the larger implications of what’s going on in this game through the lenses of someone focused on a singular goal.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some deep philosophical treatise on parenthood in a world gone mad. This is very much a horror game where many hours are spent sending boxes of bullets up various undead asses. This just happens to have a nice layer of thematic accoutrements to go with the bloody soaked steak. The horrors we do witness vary from the serious, to the comical to the deeply disturbing and even the action packed. The titular Village serves as a sort of “hub” world with which you regularly return to stock up on upgrades and unlockables in-between the carnival sideshow of horrors that is inflicted upon you in your journey to save Rose. Lady Dimitrescu (big titty vampire lady to those who know her by that moniker) received a lot of prerelease hype as the main selling point in almost all the ads. Well, as heavily as she was marketed, hers is the first “level” you’re introduced to once the game starts going full tilt boogie. I won’t spoil it other than to say that if you’re going in expecting to deal with her as the main baddie…. You’ll be sorely mistaken.  Personally I think this was intentional on Capcom’s part because if you pour over all the trailers and gameplay footage released to the public…almost NONE of it takes place after Lady D’s section of the game. So maybe this was their way of keeping spoilers to a minimum and if that was the case …bravo. Once you get past her and her castle, which is consequently the most traditional “survival horror” aspect of the game, things really begin to take a turn for the weird. The next level in the game is honestly my personal favorite section of the game as it trades in the kind of psychological horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Silent Hill game. I won’t go into ANY details here because this is where this game really swings for the fences in wanting to break from series tradition and try something new. It’s horrifying and stupefying in equal measure and I can’t wait for you guys to experience it. The rest of the game barrels along to mixed results in terms of game play and story but by this point you’re so involved in Ethan’s quest that some of the admittedly small shortcomings that mostly crop up in these next two sections pale in comparison to the excellent work being done. The atmosphere and dread never quits even as the scenes keep growing in outlandishness.

Capcom

I played RE: Village on an Xbox Series X and lemme tell you this game is a stunner in terms of graphical fidelity. I know that it was made with the previous generation consoles in mind as well, but hot damn did Capcom do impressive work rendering this game as well as they did. The visuals go a long way to making this world and this universe feel as well realized as it is. As good as the story may be, it would fall complete off the rails if the visuals associated with the game weren’t up to snuff, which is fortunately not the case here. The snowy village, Victorian era Castles and grimy subterranean lairs are all created in such glorious high definition running at a rock solid 60 frames per second that you almost feel like you’re right there in the shit with Ethan. I still think the Resident Evil 2 Remake from a few years back is the most visually stunning RE game I’ve played in this recent Era of the series, but this game comes damn close and even surpasses in some of its areas.

This is also one of the more highly replayable games in the series as well. RE is known for shorter campaigns that come with a host of unlockable extra modes and weapons and costumes that keep the player coming back for more and Village is no different. While this campaign is not  as short as some of the other games, once you memorize enemy placements and level structures… you could speed run in and out of the game in a relatively short time. My first playthrough took me approximately 11 hours to finish on Normal mode. However, subsequent playthroughs on harder difficulties afforded me the opportunity to study the game and all its intricacies to the point that I can now run the whole game from beginning to end in just above an hour and 40 minutes. Needless to say, I’ve played through the campaign and its extra time trial Mercenaries mode more times than I can count on two sets of hands in only the first month.

Resident Evil: Village is an embarrassment of riches. There’s tons of really great gameplay coupled with sharp as fuck visuals and a really unique and gonzo crazy story. Capcom takes the RE series to really exciting and new places while never forgetting the identity that got the studio to the place where it can freely experiment with the lore. The whole thing ends with an MCU style mid credits stinger that suggests even bigger changes are coming to the series and I for one can’t wait to see them bear fruit.

Even now as I sit here and write this article, all I can think about is getting back to the game and playing it some more. I can’t highly recommend it enough to anyone who even remotely enjoys video games. Resident Evil: Village is a true Game of the Year contender and is 100 percent worthy of your time.


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Brodie Mann

I suppose my story begins(as most do) on the day of my birth. I mean, i’d like to sit here and tell you about the ticker tape parade that was thrown in my honor, or that my being vaginally farted into the world signaled a time of unbridled peace and love throughout the galaxy, but i will do my best to try and be humble about my epic origins. Truth is my real origin is as ordinary as apple pie. I was hobbled together from various body parts of criminals on death row who opted to be organ donors. I suppose you could say I’m the Bizarro six million dollar man (but judging by my appearance you couldn’t tell they spent more than a few shillings on me). In between being chased by townsfolk with pitchforks and torches opposed to the “abomination” of my existence i have developed a passion for writing. The only thing that can match such lofty desires would be a lifelong passion for film. I mean I’m quite nerdy about lots of things (video games, comic books, music, etc…) but cinema in all its shiny golden splendor has captured my attention more than anything else. It’s something I try to share with the world at large, as much as possible. I figure if i can find the magic in such things, maybe i can help others do so as well. I’ve written quite a few poems(mostly about my first few years as a dime store knockoff Mary Shelly creation) but have stuck to mostly movie reviews. I am quite elated to be able to relate my thoughts and opinions on all things film with those who take the time to read them. I hope to have a positive impact here on the site and am looking forward to not only working with the staff currently in place but being able to reach a wider audience as well. P.S. If some of my work comes off a bit sloppy and meandering, its just because the doctor responsible for the stitch job on my cranial cavity didn’t do that great job and my brain has fallen out of the hole in my head they used to pump blood into. Cheers Mates!!
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