Get ready for some spooks. Resident Evil is one of the longest-running franchises in the action/horror genre, and its newest installment has finally arrived. The long-awaited Resident Evil 8: Village is finally here, with all its Werewolves, Monsters, and big Vampire ladies.
The game picks up after the events of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and follows Ethan Winters as he explores another spooky setting. With the setting and characters matching the quality of Biohazard, it’s safe to say that Village lives up to the Resident Evil name, even if it’s not as scary.
When at First You Don’t Succeed, Shoot It in the Head Again.
The main disappointment I had with the game was the lack of scares. For a horror franchise, I expected a bit more tension. There were a couple of points where I gt a bit spooked, but nowhere near as close to when I played Biohazard. The dollhouse actually did feel like a genuine horror experience, but it was over so quickly that it didn’t really impact the game.
To me, the game plays more like an action game than a horror one. You have a huge assortment of weapons to choose from, and almost every enemy can be killed with a few shots to the head.
One of the producers of RE 8, Tsuyoshi Kanda, told Axios in an interview that:
“Some of the feedback we received regarding [RE7 was] that it was too scary to play … it’s always our goal to create something that anybody can feel comfortable jumping in and playing, so we eased up on the tension curve [in RE Village] relative to ‘Resident Evil 7: Biohazard,’ so that players aren’t in constant fear.”
Tsuyoshi Kanda, Capcom Producer
When you think about it though, Resident Evil games really aren’t that scary. The only ones I’ve played besides 7 and 8 are the remakes of 2 and 3, and they actually feel more like action games as well. They’re all about big guns and big monsters, not slow tension and jumpscares. They’re still scarier than Village, but definitely not as scary as something like Alien: Isolation. So Resident Evil has always existed in a weird space between action and horror. So even though it’s not as scary as Biohazard, Village still feels like a true Resident Evil game.
And as an action-thriller, it’s pretty good. The guns feel satisfying to shoot, the enemies are difficult but fair and you’ll constantly be watching your ammo count. So if you’re expecting it to be as scary as the last game, you may be disappointed, but still have a pretty fun time with the game.
An Innocent Little Village
Village trades the Baker’s house and Louisiana bayou for Castle Dimitrescu and a snowy Romanian village. And it works just as well.
Most of your time will be spent exploring the village and unlocking new areas, which look gorgeous. The poor farming village is run down and overgrown, but still feels lived in. There are things left out on benches, pots of food still on the stove, and blood everywhere, as though the residents had to leave in a hurry, or were killed pretty quickly. There’s plenty of character to the quaint little village that it’s just fun exploring it all.
Another stand out location is Castle Dimitrescu. This place really gives me Spencer mansion vibes. With big halls, grand staircases, a dungeon and towers, it really feels like a creepy vampire’s castle. Plus I love all the references to Dimitrescu’s famous wine and then realising that it’s definitely not wine.
I won’t spoil the other settings, but each one is unique, interesting and had me wanting to explore more and more. It’s easy to see the setting of Village as one of its big strengths and it really makes you feel like you’re in a messed up fairytale.
A Colourful Cast
Another highlight is all the characters you have to face. Each one is interesting and unique in their own ways and provides great moments throughout the game.
Easily, one of my favourites was Lady Dimitrescu, and not just because she’s a tall woman. Throughout her section of the game, she presents plenty of personality. She begins with plenty of sinister charm towards Ethan, but starts to lose her flirty persona, becoming more angry and desperate as you get closer to escaping her castle. She even wanders around the castle and stalks you like Mr X, making her an easy highlight of the game. The only thing that disappointed me about her was that she wasn’t the big bad guy of the game and really isn’t in it that much.
Another character that I enjoyed was The Duke. He acts as the merchant where you can buy supplies, upgrades or make some delicious meals. He’s also Ethan’s only friend throughout this nightmare and seeing him was always the sign that I’d reached a safe room. Even though we never actually find out who or what he is, every interaction with The Duke was pretty fun and definitely a highlight.
But two huge disappointments are Ethan and the main antagonist, Mother Miranda. They’re both just very generic, with basically no distinguishing features besides being the protagonist and antagonist. It’s not too bad for Ethan since a lot of video game protagonists just exist as a vessel for the player. But to have your big bad of the whole game be as boring as Miranda is disappointing, especially when you have a lot of other villains like Lady Dimitrescu and Heisenberg who have infinitely more personality.
A Fairytale Story
But despite all the interesting characters and settings, the actual plot of the game isn’t great. You follow Ethan as he faces off against each villain as he tries to save his daughter, Rose, from these monsters. Pretty standard plot. It does a good enough job getting you from place to place, but it’s really nothing special.
What was a big problem was Chris Redfield’s role in the story. He consistently avoids telling Ethan what is going on just to confuse the player and add to the ‘mystery’. And the Umbrella logos found at the ceremony site suggest a larger conspiracy involving Chris and Umbrella, which doesn’t actually go anywhere.
But the story’s fine and isn’t considerably worse than previous games. Even though the payoff isn’t great, it’s still satisfying and the journey to get there is pretty fun.
Resident Evil 8: Village isn’t a perfect game, it isn’t even a perfect Resident Evil. But it’s still a wild ride that fans of the series will enjoy. If you want a creepy game to keep you on the edge of your seat, but still provide some fun action, then you can’t go wrong with Village.
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With the setting and characters matching the quality of Biohazard, Village lives up to the Resident Evil name, even if it’s not as scary.