Resident Evil VILLage (PS4) Review

Now this blog is fully caught up with official Resident Evil releases! Village (or VILLage, written so you can see the numeral for “8” in it…) is the latest in the long running franchise and does a Resident Evil 4-level “to hell with realism in our bioweapons” and just runs with the fantasy element and hand-waves it at the end with some technobabble. Most importantly, is it actually fun to play? That being the key thing and all… let’s find out!

Background:

There must be easier ways to get Gunpowder…

Resident Evil Village was released worldwide on May 7th 2021 for PS4, PS5, XBOX One, XBOX Series X, Stadia and PC.

It uses the same VR style First Person style as RE VII and serves as a direct sequel…

Gameplay:

The odds of this thing coming to life and trying to drill me a new arsehole? High.

As mentioned (in a desperate attempt to make the “Background” section longer) this uses the same engine as RE7, basically first person but that head bobby and hands constantly in front of you VR style first person. You wander around a creepy village, castle, manor house and steampunk factory either solving pretty basic puzzles or shooting various enemies. RE8 is similar to RE4 not just in tone and story but by being more action-heavy, with plenty of different and odd B.O.W.s to take out with a large variety of weapons, upgrades and stats for which can be purchased at a mysteriously-appearing-all-over-the-place merchant for that ultimate nod to RE4 (though he’s called “The Duke” he does apparently know the weird merchant from 4…) In fact the inventory system of a case that you can move objects around in to get more items in the empty spaces also makes a return from 4, so CAPCOM are wearing their inspiration on their sleeves with this one. You can block and even kick enemies away from you, which is handy as ammo is scarce, at least for the first half on the game (and all the time on higher difficulties, so I hear…)

That being said there are moments where the suspense builds as you walk around a location not knowing if something will suddenly pop out, a scene with a horrifying baby-like monstrosity that you have no choice but to run from was one of the most genuinely creepy and unpleasant things I’ve experienced in all my many years of playing Resi, so round of applause there. Along with boss fights (though they’re mainly “run around the large boss and fire at it until they die” fights) and different keys and items allowing you access to areas you previously couldn’t and that’s your lot. It is very fun to play, though it took me a while to stop missing the often swaying enemies’ heads but that’s more due to my lack of FPS playing than anything, honestly!

Take that, Palpatine!

I terms of bonuses (beyond extra guns, infinite ammo and concept art/figures) there is the return of Mercenaries Mode, where you have to kill creatures within a time limit and each BOW killed gives you more time, though this version has a set amount of enemies and a goal point you must reach to end each level. It also has power-ups you can collect, for a little bit of added fun. I never really got into Mercenaries on any Resi game, really… I’ve never been a Time Attack kind of guy and even less so with FPS controls that I generally suck at. Still, it’s nice to see it back for those who enjoy it, especially after RE7 was so devoid of extra modes. There is also a multiplayer game dubbed “RE:Verse” but as of this writing it’s not out yet, so I may or may not update this review to cover it, but I’ve never really been an online multiplayer kind of guy so no promises there…

Graphics and Sound:

That’s some crazy use of lighting and depth of field right there. Almost looks like a painting.

This is where me still having a PS4 Pro really hammers home why I’m not that bothered about getting a PS5 at silly prices. Village still looked stunning on my 4K TV, deep blacks during the closer, darker moments, lovely detail on the environment and character models… yeah, looks great. I’m sure it loads much faster on the PS5 but even then once it loaded up my save file it didn’t really need to load much again, beyond the odd long lift ride, though it does have to be said that my PS4 Pro did sound like a jet taking off for the entirety of play, but hey-ho, it didn’t explode! That’s always a plus in my book!

Sound is good too, mostly the sound design: creaky boards, unexplained noises during music-less wandering parts, great stuff, but the voice acting is good too. Certainly no complaints there.

Story:

Oh look, it’s Lady Dimitrescu, the tall vampire lady that turned a bunch of people lust-crazy in the build up to release, for some f**king reason!

Ethan Winters and his wife Mia have moved to Europe in order to forget the horrors of the Baker Plantation and even have a new-born daughter named Rose. This idyllic life comes crashing down when a team led by Chris Redfield arrives, shoots Mia and takes Rose and Ethan away in a truck. The truck crashes and Ethan wakes to find Rose missing and a path to a creepy village…

*SPOILERS FOLLOW*

In the village he meets several B.O.W.s that resemble werewolves and eventually finds himself in front of five very strange people, all of whom have special powers and all of whom are aware who he is and the fact he’s the father of Rose. Ethan escapes captivity and finds out the only way to save Rose is to gather four flasks that exist in four locations guarded by four of the people in that strange meeting, so … he collects them! He defeats Lady Alcina Dimitrescu and her three “daughters” in a large castle, Donna Beneviento in her manor house, merman-like Salvatore Moreau at a nearby reservoir and Karl Heisenberg at his large factory. He then finally meets “Mother Miranda” the person at the heart of this matter, who as it turns out was an old acquaintance of Ozwell E. Spencer (founder of Umbrella) who lost her daughter due to the Spanish Flu and now wants to use the power of the “Megamycete” and Rose’s unusual parentage to bring her daughter back. The Megamycete is a strange fungal growth that looks like a massive baby in an underground cavern. It’s given Miranda eternal life, something Ozwell was impressed with but he found the idea of an injectable virus more his sort of thing than the mould she had been creating, eventually informing her of the Progenitor virus in Africa as his big breakthrough, so… that’s how it ties into the overall lore: this main baddie knew the main baddie from the start of the series. *shrugs* works for me I guess!

Oh look, its Salvatore Moreau, the horrible mutated fishman that didn’t drive anyone lust-crazy, ever.

Ethan is seemingly killed by Miranda as he has his heart ripped from his chest, so Chris and his team go all gung-ho and kill a whole bunch of B.O.W.s before rigging the Megamycete to blow. By the way, it turns out that Miranda can transform herself to resemble anyone she wants, including Mia so she can get close to Rose, and that’s why Chris and his team shot Mia to death: it wasn’t Mia, it was Miranda in disguise. Chris finds the real Mia and begins to evacuate as Ethan wakes in the back of The Duke’s wagon, eventually confronting and killing Miranda and saving Rose. Sadly the regenative powers he apparently got during his RE7 adventure only took him so far and he too began to “calcify” and actually die, so he gives Rose to Chris and stays behind to blow the Megamycete. We then get a flash-forward to a teenage Rose visiting Ethan’s grave before going back to work for Chris and his men, seemingly with powers of her own (which makes sense given both her parents were infected by “the Mould” and she went through… whatever the hell she went through as a baby…)

*SPOILERS END*

Overall it’s fun, but it is created to give the player a variety of locations to visit and enemies to face first and made to tie into the main series second, but at over 10 core games in I don’t mind a bit of credibility stretching for the sake of a good time. Well, apart from Heisenberg and his Magneto powers… Even reading the in-universe documentation I don’t buy it. Far too X-Men for my liking…

Downloadable Content:

Yeah, okay, this moment may be very un-Resi, but I’d still say cultists riding fire-breathing gold dragon statues over lava pits inside a castle from RE4 is still the least Resi thing in the game series…

No real DLC announced at this point, beyond Re:Verse, I guess. That doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future though!

Thoughts Now:

May as well end on the nightmare that I’ll still be thinking of long after this game gathers dust…

Resident Evil VILLage / Village / VIII / 8 is good fun with lots of location and enemy variety to keep you entertained and a story that does its job well enough, I certainly cared more for Ethan during this game than I ever did with VII, and plenty to unlock to inspire more play throughs. That being said, while it’s great the first time round each subsequent play through the long stretches of scene setting and build up do get rather boring / annoying, but I’d rather that then not have them at all. A good release, with plenty of replay value, especially if you’re into the Mercenaries mode and whatever Re:Verse ends up being…

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