Resident Evil is a franchise with a varied past. Moving from tense horror in a creepy mansion all the way to punching boulders with sheer adrenaline, it has always failed to hit a consistent tone. This issue is so prevalent that it became part of why fans loved it. Resident Evil Village is a game for fans of everything that has come prior. It’s scary, wacky, weird, and all-around brilliant.
Taking place years after the events of Biohazard, Resident Evil Village has you make your way through an infected village in Eastern Europe looking for your daughter Rose. If this sounds vague, it is. I’m keeping the opening scenes a little sparse to allow you to have the same experience I did — a spooky crawl through a land you don’t know chasing a story you don’t understand yet. The infection in this village is a little different from what you might expect. Taking the form of Lycan, infected villagers are fast and clever, a much more action-oriented approach to the series.
This is something Village makes you aware of right from the start. This isn’t just Biohazard again. It’s visceral and gory but also much more action-packed than its predecessor. Ethan mentions he went through military training after escaping the Baker residence and this is clear from how much damage he can take all the way to the way he reloads his pistol to reserve ammo. He is much more battle-hardened, even if his cheesy one-liners and timid tone betray that fact.
It plays with this dichotomy incredibly well throughout the 7 or so hours it takes to finish. Paradoxically, you feel both incredibly strong and incredibly weak as ammo supplies start to dwindle and lights start to dim. Playing through it, it is clear how well Resident Evil Village understands its core audience. As you make your way through the opening hours, a hub world, of sorts, starts to make itself apparent to you. It reveals something to you, scares you with it, then makes that the sense of comfort. The game represents that corridor before a safe room. You understand what’s ahead but you’re always a little bit afraid it means something different this time. You are always half worried the path home is a little more treacherous this time.
Village deals with this back and forth in really interesting ways, giving upgrade weapons, only to snatch them out of your hands. It shows you the light, only for it to fizzle out. Resident Evil Village splits its central acts into four main areas, all with their own distinct style and tone. It almost feels like the greatest hits of Resident Evil, exploring the museum of Resident Evil to get to its heart. The village itself is reminiscent of 4 where the infamous lady Dimitrescu hits the same notes as Resident Evil 2’s police station.
The combat in Resident Evil Village is surprisingly fun. The bundled Mercenaries mode makes you well aware of how fun that gameplay is as you mow down the undead with shotguns, homemade bombs, and well-timed mines. Mercenaries is a fun, free, add-on that adds just a little more to the base game whilst focusing on that satisfying combat. The intrigue of the narrative isn't the only thing sending you hurtling into the story, the punchy gameplay and great scares keep you going even when you don't want to.
This is only accentuated by the strength of the central cast. Where the big bad is a little less charismatic and weird, the main four who take up your time are monstrous beings with interesting backstories and great lore. The process of hunting through their domain to pick apart little bits of information about them is as enthralling as it is spooky. Finding out the tragedy that places all these lost souls in the aforementioned village gives surprising depth to every little thing that really adds to the story of the world itself.
In this sense, the village becomes its own member of the cast. It goes from a frightening crawl through a foreign land to one of the only comforts Resident Evil throws at you. The village becomes your own little safe room, a place to catch your breath and stock up — somewhere to pause from the world. It changes with the story and grows to accommodate you. The little pieces of its lore sticking together to grow on you in an interesting way.
Unfortunately, not every moment is as good as Village’s high moments. It very quickly goes from one of the most fun Resident Evil games to somewhere in the middle of the pack. That middle is still good but, when compared to the great castle Dimitrescu, it’s notably inconsistent. One boss, in particular, has some great lore and theming but a painfully average fight and annoying preamble leave it feeling a little hollow.
The lore of Village is something I could see being hotly contested over the next few years. It makes a few decisions that, at their best, are brave and, at their worst, are downright disrespectful to the time we’ve sunk into the series over the years. As someone willing to follow Resident Evil down any line — no matter how wild — I rather enjoyed the whacky weirdness of it all but someone looking for something more serious in tone could be quite annoyed by what Village offers. I actually rather enjoyed the direction the story takes and quite liked the way it told that story. I’m certainly more invested in the story of the next game than I was for Village before going in
Resident Evil Village — Verdict
Resident Evil Village is almost wildly different from the game I was expecting it to be. Looking at its trailers and even the demos, I expected tense, tight horror and creepy monsters. I got that and so much more. I got a story as confident as it is weird. I got a cast of characters with blistering charm. I got an experience that moved from the stuff of nightmares to the stuff of dreams — weird, haunting, and maybe a little deeper than I originally gave it credit for. I got a Resident Evil game. And it might be one of the best so far.
TechRaptor reviewed Resident Evil Village on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 4.
- Great Gameplay
- Very Varied Approach to Horror
- Interesting Lore and Theming
- Great Fun
- Occasionally Inconsistent