Played on the PS5
When Capcom launched Resident Evil back in 1996, PlayStation One’s intense low polygon graphics showcased true horror that had me hooked as a fan ever since; the opening gameplay sequence when you witness a zombie ripping flesh off of a corpse only to have it turn towards you ever-so-slowly is a gripping experience I still think about to this day. Fast forward 25 years with several evolutionary process with each iteration and you’ll land right on Resident Evil Village. As confusing the title can be, this is the 8th iteration to the mainline Resident Evil story – and although it’s not as impactful as Resident Evil 7, RE8 stands side by side as one of the best experiences in the series.
A Story of a Father
You play as Ethan Winters – 3 years after the events of Resident Evil 7, Chris Redfield takes the mantle to care for the Winters family by training Ethan in military combat and providing a safe home in Europe. Soon after Ethan marries his wife Mia and they have a baby girl named Rosemary. Several months later during a family dinner, Mia is then murdered right in front of Ethan by a special force lead by Chris Redfield. Confused, Ethan is then knocked out and taken away by the group along with Rose. You wake up from a wreckage in the middle of nowhere that leads to a remote village overshadowed by a huge castle. It doesn’t take long before you realize you’re playing homage to Resident Evil 4; aside from it’s obviously perspective view and main story beats, each gameplay sequence feels like a more refined approach to what RE4 did back in 2005. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does feel as though Capcom played a pseudo scapegoat in the setting for RE8.
The story is gripping throughout the 15-hour campaign; you’ll find that Ethan possesses all of the supernatural healing properties presented in RE7 and wonder if this is a video-game gimmick or part of the story. It is a thought that lingers throughout and one I will leave for the player to find out if that’s the case or not.
On your quest to find your daughter and the answers as to why, you’ll be faced with a slew of new enemies based on local folklore. At the top of the food chain is 4 Lords of the village who has absolute control and obvious virus mutations that gives them all supernatural abilities. The first of the bunch is Dimitrescu, a tall vampiric woman who has 3 daughters that maneuvers like flies; next is a puppeteer by the name of Beneviento who lives in a fog filled valley. Heisenberg, a genius that controls metal (Magneto?!) and Moreau – a mutated fish-man that desires the approval of Mother Miranda, the leader of the Lords. These characters are interesting and fits very well into the RE universe; with each encounter I never felt overwhelmed with forced mechanics –
but I did find that sometimes, the method of defeating the Lords where definitely placed unrealistically. But, that’s always been the case in Resident Evil games. In RE8, a lot of questions players had before jumping into this game is answered in surprising ways. With each story beat, you’re left wondering if typical tropes would be played, and sometime it does – but when it matters, Capcom manages to surprise the players in ways I appreciate very much. The ending of RE8 is very satisfying although, without spoilers, I’m curious how Capcom would approach RE9 moving forward.
The RE Engine Redefined
I played RE8 on the PS5 utilizing it’s dynamic 4K resolution, 60fps and Raytracing enabled. At first glance, the game looks to have very little improvement over RE7’s impressive graphics, but once you reach Dimitrescu’s castle, that’s when everything is flipped upside your head; from lighting, shadows and textures – all has increased fidelity that really pushes out the immersion factor. Sometimes, even with the most optimized calibration, the game can be too dark – but even then it still gorgeous. RE8 features a Bonus where you can examine models of the characters and creatures of the game; you can see the attention put into this game, physical based shaders really brings the life out of these models and I couldn’t be more happy with the effort put into this game.
RE8 variety in locals is truly impressive – from the village to swamps, castles to underground facilities in true RE fashion. It’s lighting engine really peaks the level of great depth. The atmosphere is tense that even seasoned vets would still get surprised from time to time. I had a moment when I found an environmental puzzle and in the middle of exploring it, a Lycan launches out of nowhere giving me that sweet jump scare. Truly, the RE Engine is more impressive than imagined and I’m excited for what’s to come.
Same Mechanics, But Refined
RE8’s perspective is in first-person just like RE7. There’s no ADS, but when you pull down the trigger, the camera’s focuses in. Ethan is sluggish in movement and that is by design given the horror genre. Here, there’s far more action than the previous RE games, but equal in horror sequences. Just like RE4 though, there’s no storage but you carry a briefcase that can be expanded by a merchant named Duke. Yes, a merchant just like the Stranger in RE4 – remember when I said RE8 plays homage to RE4 closely? It really does. So close, that the Duke would even chuckle the lines of “How you’re doing stranger, what are you buyin'”. It’s tacked on, but still feels nice when you first hear it.
Item management is fluid and fast; you can craft ammo, explosives and healing properties on the fly and weapons stats can be modified with attachments and upgrades from the merchant. Additionally, you can hunt animals for materials to expand your overall health, block damage reduction and movement speed. RE8 feels more closely to an RPG and I have a gut feeling that the next one might truly expand on this feature. There’s collectibles scattered around and a bunch of resources to gather and sell.
Shooting feels much more refined, and defending yourself is just as responsive as RE7. Although, with all the training Chris put Ethan through I was hoping that you could dodge left or right from attacks – but alas you cannot.
Enemies derive from local folklore like humanoid bats, Lycians and Vampires. As you progress through the story, you’ll fight larger more dangerous types with telegraphed attacks that gives you enough time to reacclimate yourself – but if you’re too late boy does it hurt. I did have one enemy type that I found annoying – I quickly got use to the attack patterns but these Soldat enemies where far too frustrating initially. And I did feel that the enemies were too bullet spongy for the amount of ammo given.
After you complete RE8, you unlock the beloved Mercenary mode where you choose a character and run through modified segments of the game in a time attack mode. It’s a very fun distraction with predetermined loadouts to test your skills.
RE8 is a satisfying continuation to the mainline story that answers a lot of questions and leaves little unanswered. More so, I am intrigued with what’s to come for the series and curious on their plans moving forward. Despite some frustrating enemy designs and their forced homage to RE4, Resident Evil Village is an experience I want to revisit for the Platinum trophy.
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