Resident Evil Village (PlayStation 5) Review

By Drew Hurley 20.11.2021 3

Review for Resident Evil Village on PlayStation 5

Pokemon isn't the only legendary gaming franchise celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The series that practically invented survival horror is turning a full quarter of a century old this year, and looking back, it has transformed almost as much as the monstrosities within it since those early days. From Jill Sandwiches and Tank Controls, through Chris punching boulders to death, remakes, spin-offs, to Mila Jovovich movies, developer and publisher Capcom provided it all. The series has become a household name. Five years ago, it reinvented itself as the seventh iteration brought the horror back to the forefront, a terrifying first-person experience that managed to craft a whole new story into a universe that was beginning to collapse under its own weight. Now, this latest iteration is continuing that tale, as the protagonist from Resident Evil VII and his rescued damsel Mia return to centre stage in Resident Evil Village. No one gets a happy ending, as they're about to find out.

WARNING: Spoilers for Resident Evil VII and Resident Evil Village

Playing through Resident Evil VII first is a necessity. Not just to be able to fully appreciate the story here - there's a recap video that explains the major plot points, though misses out on a great deal! - but because it's one of the best horror games ever made. For those who have let that game pass them by, here's a more robust summary than the brief one the video in Resident Evil Village presents.
The protagonist in Resident Evil VII is a man named Ethan Winters. At the start of the story Ethan is searching for his wife Mia, who went missing 3 years ago. He had suddenly received a chilling video message from her and goes to find out more. His search is a short one as he quickly finds his wife locked up in a dilapidated mansion in the middle of nowhere. While she seems happy to see him at first, she snaps during their escape, turning into something like a cross between Samara from The Ring and someone possessed by the Necronomicon from The Evil Dead. Ethan manages to subdue her with extreme prejudice, including burying an axe into her chest, though he's close to death and missing a hand by the end of it, just in time to be introduced to the Baker family who live in this charming little estate.

Screenshot for Resident Evil Village on PlayStation 5

This family are utter monstrosities, each and every one able to heal any wound inflicted, granted superhuman strength, and able to transform into true nightmares. It seems any who have stepped into this house is infected with a strange "mould" that is slowly metamorphosing into bioweapons. Case in point, both Ethan and Mia survive their fatal fracas, with Ethan having his lopped off hand stapled back on and then reattached thanks to a dousing of strange liquid.
Ethan has to slaughter his way through new types of bioweapons known as "The Moulded", sticky black tar humanoid creatures, along with the Bakers themselves to save himself and his wife, coming up with a cure for the infection along the way and working with the one remaining sane Baker in combating the madness. This girl - Zoe Baker - assists Ethan in finding a cure, recovering Mia and getting them out. However, as the story is about to close, and just as Ethan and Mia try to float away to safety after finishing off the series' signature giant flesh monster boss creature, the story is flipped dramatically on its head, as the truth to the infection, and Mia is revealed.
It turns out Mia is the cause of this nightmare. She was working for a secret organisation known as "The Connections" and created the bioweapon that started this nightmare, a weapon she was transporting on an oil tanker. This weapon escaped, took control of Mia and led her to the Bakers' home. The weapon takes the form of a little girl named Eveline. Eveline was able to control and transform those around her with a substance known as Mutamycete or "mould", and she used this to make herself a family in the Bakers and with her "Mother" Mia. The final showdown is held against a Kaiju Eveline. As the battle rages, a helicopter passes overhead, and throws a special weapon down to finish off Eveline. Who is the saviour in the helicopter? It is a very different looking Chris Redfield (watermelons have been removed from his arms), who is here working with an unlikely ally. The helicopter he has arrived on says "Umbrella Corporation", although with a blue Umbrella sign instead of the iconic red one that the long-time series' villains have become known for.
There's an alternative ending where Zoe can be given the cure in place of Mia, and some follow-up DLC that places the player into the shoes of Chris tracking down Lucas Baker, who turns out to be a researcher with "The Connections", too, and who was far more intertwined in this horror. The DLC gives some extra background information on Chris' new friends at the reformed "Blue Umbrella", some history on the group known as "The Connections", and even shows a restored Zoe saved by her uncle.

Screenshot for Resident Evil Village on PlayStation 5

Upon the opening of Resident Evil Village, Ethan and Mia are living a happy domestic life. Chris set them up somewhere in Europe and while Ethan worries constantly for his wife and his new daughter Rosemary Winters, it seems they may get a happy ending. Ethan puts Rose to bed and gets ready for date night with a bottle of red and a local delicacy with Mia. The peaceful scene is shattered with a hail of gunfire tearing through the house and through Mia. His wife is shot to pieces, his daughter is taken. Who are the perpetrators? They are non-other than Chris Redfield and his team. They take Ethan and his daughter away until their transport is flipped into a snowbank. Ethan has to crawl from this chaos and search to find his daughter, to find out why his saviour betrayed him, and to find out what the hell is going on in the nightmarish little village he finds himself in.
The titular village is a ghost town when Ethan arrives. However, as he searches through the wreckage of the buildings, he is set upon by this entry's cannon fodder. As glimpsed in promotional material, the enemies are looking a good deal furrier than the usual walking corpses; Hulking, Lycan, monstrosities with sharp claws and sharper teeth, as Ethan's left hand quickly finds out. A pack of these things are too much for Ethan to handle and he soon finds himself dragged before their leaders, and he finds there is a shadowy cabal quite literally beneath this creepy little hamlet. There is a family that is even creepier than the Bakers of Resident Evil VII and a cult leader that looks straight out of Silent Hill in Mother Miranda. There is Magneto's sleazy, smack-talking, Nicholas-Cage sounding, cooler older brother in Heisenberg, a creepy, silent little girl, with a living doll partner in Donna and a grotesque, corpulent man with a crown of bones that looks like he's flopped straight out of Innsmouth in Moreau. Finally, there is the woman who broke the internet, the eight-foot-tall, beautiful vampire lady, Lady Dimitrescu.

Screenshot for Resident Evil Village on PlayStation 5

This dark family has taken Rose and has some nefarious plans for her. To get her back, Ethan will have to cut his way through each and every one of them. Each one has their own themed area, enemies, puzzles, and experience. Lady Dimitrescu has a classic Resident Evil experience of searching a gothic mansion, collecting special keys and hidden items to solve puzzles. Donna's home sees Ethan stripped of his armoury, and instead reliant on his wits and fast feet in an escape room-like experience. Reminiscent of the Happy Birthday Experience of Resident Evil 7, Moreau's sequence is based around surviving and avoiding a gargantuan monstrosity. Finally, Heisenberg delivers a more explosive and action-heavy version of Lady Dimitrescu's home.
Ethan isn't alone in taking on this nightmare, he has some allies. Chris' team is investigating the village, too, and there's a new vendor willing to equip him with various tools of destruction. His name is "The Duke", a corpulent lord in a little carriage, eager to purchase the remains of the enemies. He is collecting the crystalline remains of the various enemies, sells and purchases weapons, upgrades, ammo, and more. The Duke is as enigmatic as the Merchant from Resident Evil IV, popping up in the strangest of places, with cryptic messages that hint towards a larger involvement than just a humble salesman.
After six iterations the franchise had left the horror aspect of the survival horror in the rear-view. With the huge reaction to P.T., Resident Evil VII delved far back into the horror. It was wonderful. So, understandably, the step back towards action may be seen in a negative light, but it works. This isn't the Resident Evil VI action. It's Resident Evil IV. Some of the audience will mourn the loss of the horror focus and what could have been had Capcom continued down that shadowy path, but this feels like it's worth that loss.
The main story clocks in at around ten hours or so, but it's after that first completion that the game really starts to open up. After that first completion, a bonus shop is unlocked that holds concept art, 3D models, new weapons, and unlimited ammo for each weapon. The currency for that shop is "Completion Points". As with previous entries, there is a list of Challenges within the game that each award a set amount of points; crafting so many items, killing so many enemies, taking out a boss in a set time period.
Best of all, for just 10 challenge points there is another returning favourite: Mercenaries mode. If the action in the main game wasn't enough, this will more than make up for it. This is a set of eight stages to play through where the aim is to kill every enemy and reach the goal before the timer runs out. Special power-ups are available to extend that timer, or to give passive bonuses like extra damage. Each stage is made up of a set of areas and between each area an opportunity to visit The Duke to purchase upgrades and new toys.

Screenshot for Resident Evil Village on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Resident Evil Village feels like such a culmination. Bringing together elements from the franchise all the way up to now and crafting what looks to be the next step of survival horror, it embraces every aspect of the franchise. While the insidious dread of Resident Evil VII is missing, there are still plenty of scares. The monster designs are fantastic, from the generations undead, the fury of the Lupine beasts, to the towering monstrosities. It's well worth delving into the concept art and 3D models to enjoy them fully. The story is just the right amount of silly with the terrifying, and the odd dash of the surreal. The combat is smooth and fluid, best evidenced in the addictive Mercenaries mode. All of these elements added together make quite possibly the best Resident Evil to date, and a foundation for a fresh new generation of terror.

Developer

Capcom

Publisher

Capcom

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Sounds like a return to form, definitely. I kind of went off a bit after RE4, but this sounds brilliant!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I am a huge RE fan, but these 1st person pov games simply aren't 'real' resident evil to me.  You look at revelations and that was a great game that went back to horror, but perspective switch is far too different.

Dragon0085 said:
I am a huge RE fan, but these 1st person pov games simply aren't 'real' resident evil to me.  You look at revelations and that was a great game that went back to horror, but perspective switch is far too different.

That's fair but I feel Resi 7 and 8 nail the feeling of Resi far more than Revelations did, as fun as Revelations was.

Having played through 8 multiple times I've adjusted my personal score to a 7.5 as it's a bit too scripted

I've love them to return to the 3rd person eventually though

( Edited 23.11.2021 13:27 by Sandy Wilson )

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