The latest part of the Resident Evil saga shamelessly uses its predecessors. Still, it’s fun – mostly.
Resident Evil Village is the direct successor to Resident Evil 7. But that’s not the only reason why I had a constant feeling of “I already know”, “Have I already done” and “again?”
I tested Resident Evil Village on PlayStation 5.
Baby gone, there werewolf zombies
After the events of Resident Evil 7, you slip back into the role of Ethan. He has a baby with his wife Mia – but not for long. It is being kidnapped. The tracks lead to a snow-covered, apparently deserted village in Romania.
Unsurprisingly, zombies soon appear. These “Lycans” are a mixture of werewolves and the undead. Even if they have more hair, it comes down to the same thing: aim at the head, you don’t need silver balls.
The movements of the werewolf zombies, the setting in the village: It is strikingly reminiscent of the beginning of Resident Evil 5. And it won’t be the last time that you feel transported back to other parts.
First person continued
As with Resident Evil 7, the entire game is played from the first-person view. Despite the significantly higher proportion of action in Village, the speed of movement is similarly sluggish. This is intentional and gives it that typical Resident Evil feeling. If you don’t know the Resident Evil series so far, you will have to get used to the slower pace first.
It’s nice that the game maker Capcom is very aware of what a first-person view also entails. The player sees everything much closer. You want to explore, see every detail. That’s why Village is full of details and high-resolution textures, including ray tracing. Sometimes you have the feeling of running through a tech demo for a graphics engine instead of a real game.
What is a pity about this impressive display of the graphics is that there is little interaction. The few, destructible objects stand out clearly from the environment and many objects that would have been offered for interaction are simply rigid.
The eponymous village of the game serves as a central connection point between the other areas. Here you explore, fight a bit, look for hidden items and treasures. With keys and objects you gradually unlock access to houses or other areas.
Halfway through the game, the village becomes unnecessary or even annoying. Not necessary because from then on it really only exists to get from one target area to the next. Annoying because you often get lost on a treasure hunt, because some passages are not shown on the map and you therefore need to look for the way. Ethan cannot jump and can only climb in certain places. Defeating 5 meter tall monsters is not a problem, but a 2 meter high fence is an insurmountable obstacle.
“I already know” instead of shock effect
The clever thing about the concept of Village described above: The village links areas (aka levels in which evil must be defeated) that are relatively different from each other. That makes for variety – but again not.
Village makes heavy use of the previous parts. The entire first level in the castle looks like a homage to the mansion from Resident Evil 1. The principle of the unstoppable nemesis from Part 3 is reused several times. The outside areas, the inventory and the dealer are known from Resident Evil 4. Capcom is aware of this: the new dealer even makes a reference to it.
How the new zombies move, the beginning in the village, later sections in levels and the weapon upgrade system is known from Resident Evil 5. The first-person view and the rather creepy horror level with the second boss (which, by the way, is very good ), is based on Resident Evil 7.
That’s not bad – but no longer surprising. As an experienced Resident Evil player you can already see what will happen in the next 2 to 10 minutes as soon as you enter a room or level section. In my first playthrough with 9:22 hours of play (including looking for treasures), Village scared me exactly once, the rest was too obvious.
But that doesn’t mean that you throw Village into the corner after 10 hours and play something else. After the first playthrough you are presented with challenges for which you get points. These points can be redeemed in a separate store for new weapons and other extras.
In addition to the 4 levels of difficulty, you have the motivation to unlock the new weapons and of course to play with them. In addition, you will probably not find all the treasures, animals and wooden goats to destroy the first time you play through it (the counterpart to the medallions in Resident Evil 5). This will motivate those who are ambitious. And then there is an old friend, the mercenary mode. It’s all about action and high scores: Defeat as many opponents as possible to collect points.
1 + 3 + 4 + 5 +7 = 8. This calculation works for Capcom. Village makes use of the earlier parts of the Resident Evil series without making the game look like a patchwork carpet. I only found the first level in the castle to be tedious and demotivating. This consists of backtracking, the Resident Evil 3 Nemesis principle and looking around because you don’t know where to go right away: These are 3 things I don’t like about video games (don’t get in my way and steal not my time).
Apart from that, I liked Village very much and in the end I was amazed that it was over 9 hours of playing time. Although hardcore Resident Evil fans will find more familiar than new, Village will be their delight. Newcomers to the series are presented with a best of, so to speak, and only have to get used to the intentional resident evil sluggishness of the controls.