After nearly a year and a half, Resident Evil Village fans are finally being rewarded with new content as Capcom pulls back the curtain a little bit more on the story of Rose Winters: the daughter of Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil 8 protagonist Ethan Winters. The Shadows of Rose DLC finds a semi-clever way to throw Rose back into the familiar horrors of Resident Evil Village, allowing her to explore Castle Dimitrescu, among other locales. The Shadows of Rose expansion does include some variation of upgradeable weapons and even a customizable inventory (though I never came close to maxing out my inventory during my run), but it's definitely a bite-sized piece that focuses on developing Rose's character more than anything else. And there are some cool extrasensory powers thrown in too for good measure. Let's dive in, but keep in mind this review contains spoilers for Resident Evil Village.
What's New in the Shadows of Rose DLC?
The Resident Evil series is no stranger to convoluted story-telling, from biotech experiments in the basements of mansions to European villages overrun with parasitic cults. So it's honestly not all that surprising when the Shadows of Rose DLC kicks things off by having her enter the consciousness of the Megamycete so that she may find a Purifying Crystal -- an item that can cure her of her powers, which has effectively ostracized her throughout her entire life. Players may remember the Megamycete is the sentient fungus from Resident Evil 7 and 8 that can absorb people's genetics and even duplicate bodies and consciousness. By going into this fungal mind, Rose is able to traverse the setting that her father, Ethan Winters, became so well acquainted with in Resident Evil Village. Don't think that this is going to be the exact same world that players have become so familiar with though – the Megamycete has taken a firm hold, placing a large focus on puzzle-solving over action.
Though Rose does acquire a handgun early on thanks to the help of a mysterious force that's able to conjure letters to communicate with her, her focus is primarily going to be exploration and cracking puzzles over combat. Many doors will be blocked behind overgrown Megamycete. The Megamycete can be destroyed using Rose's powers, which act as a kind of white force that sucks the energy from the plant cores. Locating the cores of the Megamycete becomes a key aspect of solving these puzzles, and with the added stress of monsters trying to hunt you down, time is always of the essence.
Like in Resident Evil Village, Castle Dimitrescu is a primary and impressive setpiece. Rose does eventually move on to other areas, but the biggest moments until the game's finale take place within the spired towers of the castle. Unfortunately, Lady Dimitrescu does not make a cameo appearance, which makes sense (spoilers for Resident Evil Village) as she has already been killed by Ethan at this point. Still, this setting exists within the consciousness of the Megamycete. That would have made a Lady Dimitrescu battle possible, but ultimately not the direction Capcom decided to go with for the Shadows of Rose expansion.
Rose's powers offer something new for players to mess around with, and these abilities are upgradeable as you progress, eventually allowing you to freeze monsters in their place while you blast them with your handgun or shotgun. Later boss battles show enemies impervious to bullets, requiring Rose to strategically take cover and come out of hiding to take them down with her powers at the opportune moment. It would have been nice to have a larger range of magic-esque powers to use in a Resident Evil game, but it's extremely possible this is just a teaser for things to come. It's also revealed that this entire adventure actually takes place before the end-credits scene of Resident Evil Village. Canonically, this timeline makes sense, as it's her experiences in the Megamycete that ultimately bring her closer to the father she never got the chance to know.
What the experience lacks in originality and subtlety it makes up for in Rose being a great character to spend time with. Many of us spent countless hours literally reassembling her as we played through Resident Evil Village, so why not take some time to get to know the person we tried so hard to save? This connection makes Shadows of Rose feel more like satisfactory end-game content than a stand-alone DLC, and one I recommend anyone who loved the mechanics of Resident Evil Village to check out. The first-person perspective is swapped out for a fixed third-person experience, but the over-the-shoulder camera doesn't detract from the survival horror experience that Shadows of Rose brings together so well.
Everything else aside, the whole goal of this DLC is to help the player get to know Rose better and explore her story a bit deeper.. It was unclear in Resident Evil Village if the Megamycete had accelerated her growth, and the Shadows of Rose DLC doesn't confirm exactly how much time has passed since Ethan's death. The story begins as a simple quest to retrieve a Purifying Crystal from within the consciousness of the Megamycete but evolves into more of a coming-of-age saga as Rose deals with her feelings of never getting to know her parents.
Character-wise, she stands strong on her own and has a distinct personality that's fun to get to know throughout the short runtime of the Shadows of Rose expansion. Even at a young age, she's determined to overcome the terrifying challenges of this universe to try and rid herself of her powers. The strong narrative combines with fun third-person gunplay and puzzle solving that make this DLC a worthwhile experience.
Resident Evil Village Winters' Expansion Adds Third-Person Mode
One of the biggest changes to the Resident Evil Village gameplay is adding a third-person perspective that's playable throughout the entire story. It does detract from the core horror experience as it allows the player to disassociate more than if they were in first-person mode, but seeing Ethan's character model fend off enemies as he swaps through his arsenal is a nice detail.
The third-person action adds a fun element to a game that fans may have played through several times over already, changing things up just enough to make the gameplay feel like new. Those who prefer third-person action games will love this addition and hopefully be able to enjoy the story even more. It is unfortunate that a camera angle is being locked behind paid DLC, but for those who were curious about the Shadows of Rose story and the new Mercenaries characters, it's a nice benefit to have.
Winter's Expansion: New Mercenaries Characters
In addition to third-person story mode, we also get three new characters for Mercenaries mode: Chris Redfield, Karl Heisenberg and Lady Dimitrescu. Chris Redfield is available from the start, and there are several new levels to play through as well. You'll need to earn at least an A Rank on every level to unlock Heisenberg, and S Rank on the final level, The Bloody River, to be able to play as Lady Dimitrescu.
Having Chris playable right away is a welcome change from Ethan, with more powerful weapons that make achieving a higher rank a bit easier. This is important, as you'll need an A rank or above in all normal stages to unlock Heisenberg and an S Rank in The Bloody River stage. Though these higher ranks are easier to reach with the new characters, it still requires a lot of time and practice to learn each level's layout and earn the max bonus. The new characters and their respective abilities make Mercenaries a fresh experience for those looking for something new, but that feeling wears off quickly after a playthroughs. This is a great addition for people who already love Mercenaries, but not enough of an update to pull in those who prefer the story content over the bonus mode.
Shadows of Rose Review: Final Thoughts
Shadows of Rose is a 3-4 hour experience that brings the series back to its core of survival horror and puzzle-solving. The action sequences are fun and stress-inducing, but not the key focus as Rose works to find the Purifying Crystal. Resident Evil Village fans will find plenty to love in this expansion, but don't expect it to be an exact copy of what was experienced in the base game. This is both good and bad, as the pacing can slow down quite a bit. Still, Shadows of Rose expands the story and gives fans a deeper connection with Ethan's daughter. One of the most emotional scenes in the expansion comes just before the finale, where Rose very quietly walks through her childhood home and views important items from her childhood. The other add-ons such as the third-person camera perspective of the main story and new Mercenaries characters help give this DLC pack more value, and make Resident Evil Village a great game to return to this holiday season.
For those craving more of the Winters' story, Shadows of Rose is a great experience that offers a satisfactory stop-gap between Resident Evil Village and whatever ends up coming next for the franchise.
TechRaptor reviewed Resident Evil Village - Shadow of Rose on PlayStation 5 using a copy purchased by the reviewer. The DLC is also avaialble on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
- Character development
- Gorgeous setting
- Expands the Resident Evil Village plot
- Slow pacing
- Limited combat