Resident Evil Village strikes me as a type of game that feels masochistic. Not because of its difficulty. But because of the particular ways they keep finding to gore the protagonist’s hands is quite unsettling. It’s almost as if the developers are trying fetishize hand injuries. If you’re not queasy about fingers getting bitten off, palms being hooked, and wrists being sliced off then you just may be able to stomach Village.
From a survival horror standpoint, Resident Evil Village isn’t too scary. It does well on the genre for the first few hours of the game, but quickly steps into action survival territory. From the beginning segments, it’s immediately made clear that slow paced scares isn’t its specialty. The game places a heavy emphasis on survival than flat out horror. And while there are memorable moments of truly terrifying encounters with the strange and dangerous, you’ll find yourself having a blast shooting monsters than feeling any sort of dread from them.
Village leaves one hell of a first impression. You’re left to fend for yourself in an unending lycan attack with little resources and forced to use the village’s maze-like architecture to keep the monsters away. On harder difficulties, this will most likely take several tries as lycans take an ungodly amount of damage before going down. This particular moment felt like a homage to a similar scenario in Leon’s journey in Resident Evil 4. Despite the early game hell, Village becomes easier moving forward regardless of difficulty.
Despite the initial intrigue I had for the game’s story, I can’t help but criticize the pacing. It moves much too fast. I had difficulty getting attached to any of the characters including our main protagonist, Ethan Winters, who for the most part is as bland as they come. Ethan is a character that is defined more by his suffering than his depth. What little character he does show in certain moments isn’t enough to make him memorable throughout the journey. And I felt that was a waste. Still he does get the job done in motivating us enough to make it through the hellhole that is Village.
The game makes it clear from the beginning that it isn’t shy when it comes to showing gore. You’ll quickly realize the lack of hesitation in showing blood when Ethan’s fingers get bitten off by a lycan in the opening segments of the game.
You’ll quickly learn that crafting is an essential mechanic to survival in Village. With resources found in the environment so scarce, relying on ammunition found on the floor won’t take you very far. The crafting mechanic provides a layer of decision making as often times I had to decide between crafting myself a first aid med or more shotgun ammunition. This encourages exploration of the environment as materials you find now may just be a life saver later on.
Environments in the game can be quite claustrophobic. Though you’ll have enough wiggle room to get around certain enemies should you use the layout to your advantage, it’s easy to catch the affliction of feeling restrained when maneuvering around. At certain times, fighting head on will be often discouraged. And you’ll find yourself moving around the map to stay out of reach.
However, this can just as easily be used against you. I remember several times in Castle Dimitrescu where I turned into a corner only to find out that the lady of the house was waiting to slice me into ribbons. I dreaded running into a dead end as the freedom to move around was always a key element in surviving.
Resident Evil Village is beautiful. A testament to just how good the RE Engine is. Everything looks photorealistic. Objects are greatly detailed and character models look gorgeous. Even while playing the game on base PS4, the game still ran at a fluid frame rate. To compliment this, there’s even a Photo Mode you can take advantage of to capture the scenery.
Monster designs in Village are interesting and a derailment from its predecessors. Unlike previous works of Resident Evil, they don’t as much feel like a freak experiment gone wrong as much as they feel supernatural. Lycans, ghouls, and vampires give the game a feel for more of a gothic fantasy survival horror. In fact, a lot of Village’s aesthetics is reminiscent to Castlevania with elements of Bloodborne.
Throughout your journey, you’ll be visiting almost every place that Village has to offer, from an old castle with dark underground torture chambers to a factory that creates grotesque cyborg mutants. So Village is never one to get stale due to its diversity.
Combat is satisfying in Resident Evil Village. Not so much that the bullets feel impactful, but just surviving the encounters is enough to feel a sense of relief. On harder difficulties, enemies can be quite tough. Never quite hitting the threshold of being bullet sponge, but enough to truly make them threatening. In almost every encounter, I found myself in scarce supply of abundant resources I once had at my disposal. Thankfully, what you need is never really far off. I never reached a point in Village where I could no longer progress because I ran out of bullets.
Village does give you a few leniencies to make the journey a little easier. The presence of a shop allows for purchase of inventory as well as gun improvements to aid in your survival. Duke, the big jolly shopkeeper, will feel like your only ally in a very hostile environments. You can sell him treasures and items you no longer need for currency you can use to render his services.
If you do die in the middle of an encounter, Village has a rather generous checkpoint system. I never found myself too far off from where I perished, sparing me the frustration from having to backtrack.
I enjoyed my time in Village to a large extent. I can’t quite claim this to be a masterpiece but it is definitely a must have. Whether you’re new or old to the franchise, Resident Evil Village is a delightfully thrilling experience for connoisseurs of horror.