Resident Evil Village – Village Demo Impressions
Oh Ethan, what did you get yourself into this time.
This will contain spoilers, so if you’re intending on playing the demo on May 1st, proceed with caution.
With the Maiden demo only for those lucky enough to buy a PS5, those of us with PS4s (and on May 1st, all the other platforms) finally have a demo to try out, but only available for 8 hours. This first part of the demo, called Village Demo, puts us at the beginning sometime after the establishing prologue where we already know would include Ethan and Mia moving here, Chris barging in to take Rose and kill Mia, and (from what can be gathered from the beginning of this demo) Ethan wandering around. This starts just as Ethan runs into an old lady who gives Ethan some cryptic information and then locks Ethan in the Village as she closes the exit. Pretty much trapped here, this calls for Ethan to explore around.
Strangely enough, there is no one here. Granted, Ethan doesn’t really make any attempt to call for anyone or knock on any doors, but no one. There are even many locked doors and gates, with the wells here taped up with stronger tape than the one used in RE7 supposedly. Ethan pretty much wants to make a beeline to a castle, Castle Dimitrescu, as he suspects Rose to be kept, which needs two stone keys to complete the door. Going into the church presents one of the pieces, with photos of Mother Miranda and the house heads around it and a note showing that the other stone key is at Luiza’s house. I admittedly got a bit stuck here, as everything else is locked, but after checking out the map and exploring a bit more, there are some gates placed where they are hidden pretty well. With two being behind the church, and one of them is open for you to enter. This brings you to a wheat farm where you get your first look at the lycans and how the combat is (shame that this is timed though). This part was pretty tense. You just see the tall wheat moving as you hear the lycan moving around. With the only thing you can do is put on your brave face and head into the wheat yourself. You can attack the lycan (well lycans as I found out later), but they’re pretty tough and have hard hitting weapons that they use. They also seem to be programed to not stay in your line of sight, and possibly flank you if there are more than one, as I found myself losing sight of the one I was firing at and then being hit behind me.
Whether you go up against them or run to the house in front of you, you soon discover two villagers, Elena and her injured father Leonardo, who can’t get into Luiza’s house for safety. After a quick laugh on how there’s just a huge open window right beside them, this actually leads inside Luiza’s property, which you can see the stone key in a case, and you help them inside and find out there are other survivors. Of course, with Ethan’s luck, they are massacred by Leonardo as he goes mad while becoming a lycan and the only reason Ethan survives is because Elena gets the courage to shoot him. Leonardo also happened to knock over a lamp, causing the house to go up in flames, which pushed them to escape by going up and escaping from the window. However, despite Elena’s brave act, she makes a terrible, dumb, decision to go to her father despite knowing that he isn’t himself after he shows that he still recognizes her. So much for Elena (though, there is a theory going around that Elena somehow survived as she’s shown holding a lantern in the announcement trailer). After this, we can then open the case with the screwdriver you find in the house and finally open the castle gates, where the demo ends if you didn’t go over the 30 minute timer first.
Right away it becomes apparent that Ethan is going to have a lot more personality here. I may not have finished my Re7 playthrough, but Ethan already talked more than he did in RE7 and you can tell he just doesn’t want to deal with a whole new mess again. Inventory management continues, but this time it resembles a briefcase (RE4 vibes anyone?) and new crafting. Interestingly enough, the crafting material you get don’t get put in your inventory, but acts as story items (which is weird) and you can’t just use herbs by themselves. From the demo, you can craft bullets from scraps and gunpowder and first aid med from herbs and chem fluids. There are many more slots for other items, so we can suspect that we’ll be at least making different kinds of bullets and ways to defend yourself. Ethan also can climb out windows and onto low platforms this time around. Though, he has a difficult time jumping over short fences. You also don’t have to take out your knife just to break boxes anymore, though you do if you want to break some glass. In RE7, there were bobbleheads hidden around and this also continues in RE8 as they’re replaced by goats.
In terms of combat, there wasn’t really enough time to really get a feel for it due to the time limit. We do know that Ethan gets a knife, a handgun, a shotgun, and a landmine, with more obviously coming as the game progresses. It felt pretty nice to aim to be honest. However, it doesn’t seem to pack a punch as the lycans don’t seem to react to being shot by your handgun. This could be due to you needing a specific kind of bullet or it just the result of being able to upgrade weapons here, but yeah can be concerning. In the first showcase, there was also even a clip where the weird zombie-like enemies reacted, but didn’t once they got into their attack animation. Though, there are bags of flour which you can use to stun the lycans (and maybe other enemies?) and you can barricade doors with shelves (just like RE4!) and some windows may be already boarded up, letting you get shots in until they break them. Ethan can now also hit enemies back after he blocks their attacks. The mines also pack a mean punch from what I saw and it seems Ethan is immune to them (which… weird choice). I do wonder if he’ll also be immune to red barrels that we already know will show up or any other possible traps he’ll be able to find or craft.
In terms of performance on the PS4, it was surprisingly great. I was a bit worried, but I ran into no problems, didn’t notice any drops or hitches, and the game looks beautiful. Considering that the majority of people won’t be able to pick a PS5 up until they get lucky enough to get one before a scalper’s bots do (yeah, don’t buy from scalpers guys) or until they arrive in stores (which may be a long while), I’m so glad this is the case.
I do have some speculations. Based on how this really seems like this takes place right after everything is established, and assuming this won’t be changed too much in the full release, it does seem like the Village will be our main hub to get to other areas. If you take the time to explore, there are many gates or doors locked, as well as some things that you can’t access yet (like not being able to lockpick that drawer or cut the tape on the wells (which I’d like to know what makes that tape different than what we encountered in 7). Assuming that we don’t get dragged to the house heads meeting before the section this demo lets us play through based on Ethan being clueless, it’s also safe to assume that Castle won’t be able to be completed right away and Ethan may be captured when he tries to enter the Castle Grounds where you meet Heisenberg and get glimpses of the other bosses. Though, there’s no telling when she’ll be faced other than she’ll be after Heisenberg and her daughters (considering she was already teased and had a demo just for her lore), but it does seem Mother Miranda will be the last boss to go as she’s even bossing Lady Dimitrescu around. Not to mention we only got glimpses at the other two house heads and what kinds of creatures they could be.
I also found it weird that Ethan was only looking for his daughter and not also his wife, who he spent all of 7 trying to rescue. And considering what he says after Elena stupidly dies, Mia might have actually died during the beginning of the game (hence why Capcom is letting that spoiler go free) or at least seems dead. Dead enough to fool Ethan and whoever may have been interested. With Chris either going rogue as he knew Ethan would go after him after killing Mia and taking Rose and thus freeing this village from Mother Miranda (with it being a toss up whether Chris did a terrible job in keeping Rose away from them or Ethan just assumed Rose was in the Castle by the old lady) or Chris was indeed turned into a lycan like the cover art suggests and takes Rose while he’s under control, but having enough to not kill Ethan since he knows Ethan won’t let Rose go (and well, he probably didn’t try to stop Chris like Mia tried to). Either way, I also wouldn’t be surprised that we’ll get sections playing as a different character, namely Chris since he’s been featured in cover art. I guess we’ll see how everything pans out soon enough.
Also… considering we already have some parallels between this and Resident Evil 7, what if the old lady we see is Lady Miranda in disguise. After all, she seems super devoted, seemingly the only one sparred from the Village, was sketching something before we headed into the Castle, and we don’t see them together at the same time. And the old lady suspiciously appeared in the direction Mother Miranda went when she appears to kill Iulian. There’s no way Miranda won’t have some kind of power to transform herself considering she somehow has everyone under her control. Or maybe the old lady is an extension of Mother Miranda so she can keep an eye on her flock. Though, one things for sure, the old lady was either used to lure Ethan into getting Rose from Chris as Mother Miranda views Ethan as someone she can easily overpower to get Rose for the ceremony, or Ethan is one of the core pieces for her ceremony and she’s subtly pushing him to do what the ceremony calls for.
While this admittedly didn’t have much combat, with regular bullets not really deterring the Lycans as much (which I’m assuming we’ll be making silver bullets as we’re going straight into the Castle), and instead focused on exploration even though you are rushed, I did really love the demo. I was already interested in picking up Resident Evil Village before, mostly just for Lady Dimitrescu, this pretty much sealed the deal. This also might just because I finished Resident Evil 4 recently, but I also felt Village had major Resident Evil 4 vibes. This could be due to the setting and the way the game handles (well, at least what you’d think RE4 would handle if it didn’t have tank-y controls and was in first person), not to mention that there are hidden currency and sparkling treasure (which I understandable missed due to the dumb time limit and well, not expecting it), we’re getting a Merchant, and a Mercenaries mode.
Though, I really don’t understand why this has to be timed, or well double timed technically. This could have easily been made available for at least a whole day so more people can play it rather than just for 8 hours. And considering this Village section is meant to head straight into the Castle, I don’t see why this had to have a time limit of 30 minutes. Let us take in the scenery, get lost, and be clueless on what to do before figuring it out. It’s terrible being rushed and if you’re like me and just got a tiny bit lost, players wouldn’t be able to see it all the way through. Granted, you can just take your time when the game fully releases, but still.
For anyone that didn’t know before going into the Village demo, you can get an extra playthrough by having more than one account. Maybe don’t do this if you share your Playstation and they want to play the demo too, but this only detects data from the user account you’re on. And if you have another account you haven’t went through the demo yet, well, do it. This way, if you do get a bit stuck you have another chance.
Well, now it’s time to wait until the 24th to play the Castle demo.