One of the trickiest hurdles to building a sequel is how to make it look fresh, like it’s a new project instead of an expansion pack. This is the problem Capcom faces after brilliantly revamping its flagship franchise with “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard”.
Switching to first person and developing an innovative narrative design allowed players of “Biohazard” to guess. It knocked them off balance, forging a new vision of survival-horror. Once the novelty is gone, “Resident Evil Village” attempts to disorient and topple players. in the opening act.
The follow-up once again puts players in Ethan Winters’ shoes. His seemingly perfect life is torn apart after acquaintance Chris Redfield storms his home, shoots him and takes him and his baby, Rosemary, into custody.
The start comes and goes like a roller coaster as Capcom floods players with information. The transport carrying Ethan and his child is attacked, but Ethan survives and finds himself in the woods of Eastern Europe, eventually stumbling upon a mysterious village that is going through a crisis of its own.
The werewolves attack him, and Ethan quickly learns that the siege is linked to his daughter’s kidnapping. The enigmatic figure Mother Miranda has captured Rose and Ethan must fight his four servants to save his baby. This quest begins in Castle Dimitrescu where “Village” allows players to gain a foothold and the campaign feels more conventional.
COMFORT ZONE AND BEYOND
Ethan wanders the building opening doors and solving puzzles while being hunted by vampire-like Alcina Dimitrescu and her three daughters. He will meet artificial and decorated enigmas (a must-see in “Resident Evil”) punctuated by moments of combat. It’s a bit close to the vibe of the previous entry, but “Village” focuses more on combat and a new approach to item management.
Different types of firearms, such as grenade launchers, sniper rifles, shotguns, and pistols, shine, depending on the enemy and the circumstances. Slow walking minions are easily dispatched with a handgun or, better yet, maneuvered and threaded with a hunting knife. The toughest opponents require shotgun shots or clever uses of explosive barrels or electrical devices.
This time around, players won’t have an item box to store items. They will have an inventory file and can improve it. However, there will come a time when they will have to sell old guns to make room for the newer ones. This puts pressure on the way players handle weapons, use ammo, and distribute their resources. They will need to be efficient and precise, especially if they want to explore all that “Village” has to offer.
Players will spend most of their time in the Four Great Houses, each with their own take on horror. The Beneviento estate avoids most fights and focuses on inventive puzzles and running away from monsters. Ethan faces crossing issues and a grotesque monster in the water-dominated Moreau section. These two parts are the shortest of the campaign, while Dimitrescu and Heisenberg dominate most of the game with elaborate death traps and combat sequences.
While Dimitrescu looks like a vintage “Resident Evil”, the Heisenberg section is the toughest and most avant-garde with narrow hallways and tough creatures players must think of in the mazelike environment of a factory.
EFFICIENCY IS THE KEY TO SURVIVAL
Between these sections, players will encounter optional bosses and secrets as they explore the vast map. If the four houses are the bones, these extras and side quests are the nerves and sinews of the countryside. Players can hunt animals that offer permanent bonuses if players give them to the Duke, the portly and oddly ubiquitous merchant of the game. They can find treasure, which allows them to upgrade their weapons, but players must be aware that optional content puts them under pressure later in the campaign.
If they waste ammo trying to bring down a giant ax bearer, they will find themselves struggling for ammo in later missions. “Village” puts a bounty on those who can effectively send monsters with headshots and clever uses of the environment.
The narrative of “Village” is strong enough that players want to venture into every nook and cranny of the countryside. The Secret zones highlight the stories of characters and the history of the place. The villains themselves are scheming while Ethan himself raises questions that need to be answered.
With the Mercenaries mode and the extras to unlock, “Village” has a surprisingly high replay value. It’s especially fun to run through the game with an Ethan fueled with beastly weapons. Capcom does a great job of getting players to stick with the game after the credits roll.
That said, one of the main reasons to play ‘Village’ is because it’s one of the few games that showcases the power of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X | S. The developers did some black magic coding, adding ray tracing with smoother frame rates than expected. Spatial audio also elevates the experience, increasing fear and tension as well as the excellent score. Even the haptics works well, as the controller rumbles when a heavy enemy approaches players in a dark hallway or behind a door. Capcom is harnessing new technology to create a more terrifying horror game and one of the defining experiences for this new generation of consoles.