Resident Evil Village Review (PS5)
Your right hand comes off?
And I’m finally here talking about Resident Evil Village! It only took me a couple months where I was procrasinating on playing Resident Evil 7 and Village, but finally I pushed myself. And what better month to do it in other than the spookiest month, October!
So as a little refresher on Ethan’s story, as this is the continuation of Resident Evil 7, Ethan Winters’ wife, Mia Winters, went missing and after 3 years he got a mysterious email from Mia (or more accurately from a Evelyn-controlled Mia) telling Ethan that she’s in Louisiana and residing in what turns out to be the Baker’s family property. He travels there, as he is desperate for Mia to turn up alive and it didn’t seem too much of a fake tip as it did come from her email, and what ensues was not something that he could have predicted. Well, the cow effigy did but our man Ethan touched it. Throughout the events of the game, he learns about the Mold that has torn through the Baker family, that Eveline is the source of this infection and is in control of (most) of the family; and Ethan had to defeat most of the Baker family to stay alive, get an antidote, and make it out alive with Mia.
Going into Resident Evil Village now, it has been a couple years since the events at the Baker’s property happened. It has been covered up for the public, as who wouldn’t have questions about what happened when they see what happened to the Bakers, and while there were some skeptical about it being just a hydrogen sulfide leak due to there being a huge fuss on sealing it off (and some even got a glimpse at a mold monster and the ship) it’s now in the back of everyone’s minds. Ethan and Mia was put into witness protection and was relocated somewhere in Eastern Europe and Mia soon had a baby named Rosemary. However, the peace that settled over them was not to be there forever. After reading Rose a local fairy tale, Village of Shadows, and putting Rose down for bed, Mia was shot multiple times right before they were able to eat dinner. The person that did it? Chris Redfield and his squad, with Chris himself acting like a total dick as he doesn’t tell Ethan anything. Even though being a total ass and knocking Ethan out takes longer than telling Ethan the truth.
Anyway, Ethan next wakes up after the truck he was loaded in gets overturned. With the guard dead and Rose gone, the only thing he can do is push forward. He soon stumbles across the very village that is in this game’s name and what you’ll be traveling through. As well as getting into a fight with lycans, finding surviving villagers that are held up in a house before all of them die, getting caught by Lord Heisenburg and brought to a meeting with Mother Miranda and the other Lords, and pretty much sets out to find Rose and kill all the Lords and Mother Miranda. He starts with Dimitrescu, which he was going into her castle before he was captured, and then going onto Beneviento, Moreau, Heisenberg, and lastly Mother Miranda. If he could survive going against the Bakers when he had no training, he can go up against these guys with training.
Moving away from having you just be in one location, you’ll effectively be going into five different ones in Village. You’ll first encounter the Village, of course, which ends up being your hub of sorts. The other areas you’ll be going to, whether it’s straight to the Lord’s domain or not, is branched off from the Village with the only reason you can’t go anywhere too early being because of locked gates. You’ll go into Dimitrescu’s castle, a regal place fit for totally-not-vampires with a dark secret underneath, Beneviento’s nice house that has a touch of eeriness but soon becomes a nightmare (and ends up being one of the most memorable areas), Moreau’s flooded and dank section that fits Moreau’s fish-like mutations and threatens to put you into the dangerous waters at any moment, Heisenberg’s factory that both showcases his abilities, how much he’s working, and that industrial feeling that gives of interesting aesthetics. Each area is different from one another, as well as the boss battles, and while it does straddle the cheesy action line towards the end, it definitely serves as a great horror game.
Ethan also gets some added attacks in his moveset that he didn’t have before. While it is kind of easy to forget unless you’re being ganged on or going against the particularly hard, big enemies (or more like mini-bosses), they certainly help you out. Ethan can now push and punch his enemies after blocking an enemy’s attack (just like Chris, but not as powerful due to Mr. Weak Hands over here). And aside from new guns, like a sniper rifle which you get earlier than I was expecting, you’ll also have pipe bombs that you can throw to take out groups or big enemies as well, mines that you can trick enemies into stepping on, and red barrels that are often in convenient areas that you can shoot and explode. Though, it really is disappointing that Ethan doesn’t get hurt if he’s too close to his own explosions (granted, I am lowkey grateful so I don’t have to worry too much, but still). Unlike RE7, but like RE4, enemies now also will drop Lei and sometimes crafting materials as well.
Not to mention the enemy variety. If you were someone that was disappointed with the lack of enemy variation in the previous game, it was definitely addressed here. Every location essentially has their own enemy type to go with the Lord’s background or theme. With the ones you’ll come across the most having variations like the lycans or the soldats. It was pretty scary running into the enemies suddenly, or hearing them somewhere while you navigate through whatever area you were in, and were pretty fun to figure out their weaknesses and dispatch them. And they are even more daunting when you know you don’t have many bullets left.
If you ever played Resident Evil 4, you’ll find a lot of elements that were carried over (but seriously, play RE4 it’s good). The big one, both figuratively and literally, is the presence of a merchant. While RE4’s merchant was just a random Ganado that for some reason decides to help Leon as long as he had money (as well as setting up a shooting range for fun), the merchant here has much more of a presence. The merchant here is a big obese man named The Duke who travels in his caravan which he seems to get into places that you would think he wouldn’t be able to get into. Though he does have a business relationship with the Lords and the Village. Like being a merchant suggests, he’ll sell you items ranging from first aid to weapons. As you get further into the game, he’ll sell better weapons to replace the ones you found and while the consumables are limited, they do get replenished once you move on to the next part. He’ll also upgrade your weapons.
The inventory system you enjoyed in RE7 is also different as it changed to be more like RE4’s inventory system. Even right down to it being a briefcase. You’re given a much bigger grid to work with where all of your weapons, ammo, and consumables will reside, with you being able to buy upgrades to increase it after certain points. Though, unlike in RE4, I never really had to make any hard decisions or constantly think about what I had. Sure I organized it so I can feel satisfied, but I never really had to make any hard choices. I never had to combine herbs in advance, constantly rearrange hoping I can spare enough space for what I want, eat health items to make room (which hopefully was one that granted a little health or I was already low), or hope that I can get rid of a bullet stack. Nor did I really have to contemplate having to choose between upgrading my inventory or upgrading my guns as Leni does come easily (with enemies dropping it and being able to find a lot of treasure if you take detours). And really, you can get through the game comfortably with just buying 2 inventory upgrades, which comes early enough. Not to mention that you can’t swap items in Village when you’re rearranging which is such an annoyance. I thought about why that is and maybe it was because all of your crafting items don’t take up a slot in your inventory, which definitely would have filled it up and even encourage you more to craft, temporary key items don’t take up space, and weapon attachments didn’t either (or at least didn’t expand the gun’s grid).
Crafting returns from RE7, but it’s much more involved as naturally there would be more recipes as you have more weapon options and a new crafting material appearing in the form of rusted/metal scrap. You do start out with the basic first aid med and handgun ammo recipe, but you’ll have to buy the other recipes from The Duke if you want to craft them in the future. This certainly does help in cases where you need health, but haven’t come across any in a while, or need ammo quick. Though, the game does try to encourage crafting as it does seem to give you a bunch of crafting material and ease off of craftable item drops at times.
There are even some optional stuff for those with a keen sense of observation and exploration, which goes in line with RE4 as well. Of course, there are helpful items that you can grab for yourself, but there are a bunch of treasure that you can grab. There are glittering spots indicating that a treasure is hanging there and all you need to do to get it down is to shoot it down and there are bird cages hanging out that you can shoot down as well (unique to RE8’s theme of Mother Miranda’s crows). The glittering spots themselves are hard to spot, and if you’re too close it might not shine, but you can tell if something is still discoverable in a room by looking at your map and seeing if the room is red. Going through areas will grant you some treasure or guns that you can grab for free, but you are also rewarded for returning to areas that you couldn’t at first. There are some locked doors that aren’t necessary to progress through the story, but holds treasure that you can sell for a lot of Lei, powerful weapons like the Magnum, or weapon parts. And there are optional areas that The Duke will mark on your map where treasure will be at. It may include you fighting a mini-boss or getting a specific item first, but it’s worth it for that sweet sweet Lei. Though, make sure you check out your treasure before selling it off. Just like in RE4, some treasure aren’t complete as it was separated into parts. You can sell them separately, but finding the missing parts and combining them will increase its value. So look out for that.
Certain enemies as well as the bosses (both Lords and mini-bosses) will also drop their own treasure in the form of their crystallized remains. These sell for a lot, gaining in value depending on how strong the enemy was, so you might find yourself with a lot of money to throw around. You can also shoot crows if you haven’t scared them off and they’ll drop some Lei.
However, when you’re going through the Lord’s residents when you’re going to kill them, be sure that you really want to leave. Sadly, you can’t return to say Castle Dimitrescu once you leave after killing Dimitrescu, so if you thought you could return you will find yourself not being able to.
Another mechanic carried over from previous Resident Evil games are animals that you can kill for their meat, but there is a twist here. There are various sections of the Village that you’ll notice some chickens or pigs running around (or seeing it marked on your map) or fish swimming in low water. You can, and should, kill these animals for their meat. There are also some special animals that are indicated by photos that you can find. But, you can’t eat them yet (and don’t sell them!). The Duke will soon give you another option to cook food with the meat you can collect and the various dishes act as a way to permanently increase your health, increase movement speed, and decrease damage from guarded attacks. And just like with treasure, there are some spots that you can miss while in a Lord’s domain, which can cause you to not have enough of a certain type of meat (for me, I missed some fish in Moreau’s).
It also seems that someone built and set up Labyrinth Puzzles for each Lord. You’ll have to find their ball first, but you can put these into a really nice model of their home and guide it into the goal by tilting it along the path. You will have to deal with spots where the ball can fall, causing you to restart, but most of them are pretty easy (especially knowing you can rotate your camera). The only difficult one you’ll come across is Heisenberg’s.
There is also a collectible called Goats of Warding, which is shaped as a goat with a moving head that has a distinct sound, which basically acts like Mr. Everywhere in RE7. Though, I did find myself hearing the Goats of Warding more than I did with Mr. Everwhere. Even to the point where I was going crazy when I couldn’t find it… and realizing that I had to progress a bit more to get to it. And just like Mr. Everywhere, all you have to do is destroy it.
Once you finish your first playthrough, you’ll have the ability to get into a New Game+, be able to play on the hardest difficulty (Village of Shadows), and the Extras Content Shop will be unlocked. The Extras Content Shop is where you can unlock weapons, extra content, or Mercenaries mode with your CP gained from achievements/challenges.
Mercenaries is… okay I guess. I only played Mercenaries in Resident Evil 4, so I can’t compare how it is in 5 or 6, but it is handled better in Resident Evil 4 (which I was particularly annoyed with). There are 4 stages, not counting the harder versions of them, though you’ll only have one unlocked at first, with each having a couple levels for you to complete. The Duke will be there for you to buy weapons or upgrades from and you’ll have to at least kill a certain amount of enemies before you get an option to end the level. There are also some orbs which can either give you more time or give you a choice to choose between some random upgrades. Your rank will determine on your score, kill combo, how many enemies you defeated, and how long you took; and unlocking the next Stage will depend on the average rank you got on all levels. Though, this is iteration is much more memory based and you don’t have much variety if you want a decent score. I was pretty disappointed that you only play as Ethan, rather than having the option to play as different characters each with their own loadouts and unique movesets.
Granted, while I do love Resident Evil Village, it does still have room to grow. Certain aspects felt like it definitely could have been expanded upon, and we do know that in some cases things were cut. It felt there were parts cut regarding the village survivors and Beneviento’s and Moreau’s section felt like there could have been more done with them. It would have fit Dimitrescu more if she got madder as you killed more of her Daughters, instead of just walking to you more or less calmly (though the lines she’ll say are so good). Beneviento and Heisenberg also felt like they could have benefited from having phases (especially Heisenberg so he can use his hammer). There are also some dumb decisions made by both Chris and Ethan even if you take into account that real people will make stupid decisions. Though the fact that Ethan now has a personality and talks a lot more, as well as enjoyment of the different Lord’s locations, will depend on personal preferences. Also, keeping Ethan’s face hidden made the third-person cutscenes with him was too awkward and our man Ethan deserves a face reveal for his send off (which would have made the ending much more emotional in my opinion).
Despite Resident Evil Village does suffer from having some story issues, still had room for improvement, and had areas where it would have improved the experience if it was expanded upon (which in some aspects we know it was originally going to be before it was cut), I had a lot of fun playing Resident Evil Village. I really enjoyed my time playing it, whether it was me being scared and jumping at every little thing or in the more action-thriller parts, and I can’t believe I procrastinated so much before I finally got into it. I ended up loving each Lord’s sections, their boss fights, the fact that the final boss is actually a fight (and worthy of saving up your Magnum bullets), enjoyed that Ethan had a personality for the most part, and the enemy variation this time around. While some may want to get this on sale, as it is around the same length as Resident Evil 7, Resident Evil Village is worth getting at full price.
I can’t wait to see what DLC we’ll be getting (it has to at least revolve around the 4 Lords considering how popular Dimitrescu turned out to be even before release) and what Resident Evil 9 will be about considering that it was obviously setting up to continue the story of the Winters family (plus I have heard talk that it was planned to be a trilogy from the start).
Miss you already Ethan, you deserved a face reveal.