2017’s Resident Evil 7 was one of many biggest gaming comeback tales of all time. After the sequence misplaced its means over time with unwieldy blockbuster aspirations, Capcom’s horror crew wiped the slate clear and scaled every little thing right down to a creepier, tighter, personality-driven scope.
The ensuing 2017 sport continues to be a sequence spotlight—which is probably going why Capcom hasn’t but let go simply but. Its direct sequel, this week’s Resident Evil Village, earns severe “direct sequel” stripes. The identical protagonist returns to take care of zombies, monsters, and creeping dread. His tribulations are as soon as once more framed inside a first-person perspective, and so they’re as soon as once more managed by a sure set of strikes and weapon sorts.
Sequels like this typically end up nicely—ain’t broke, you recognize the remaining—however that is actually because the sport maker in query makes use of classes realized from the prior sport to make one thing greater, badder, and crazier, or executes ideas that could not fairly match into the primary try. RE Village isn’t that sequel. The extra I take into consideration its parts, the extra I am left questioning what obtained minimize, modified, or compressed to get this sport out the door, as a result of it largely fails to surpass RE7‘s scope.
RE Village continues to be a stable expertise, and at its greatest, it doubles down on RE7‘s “front-row seat to horror” twists when it comes to giddy, foolish horror-violence leisure. (Suppose ’80s cheese, not ’00s torture porn.) However as each a online game and an interactive horror movie, RE Village is greatest served by decrease expectations.
4 plus seven equals eight?
I say this as a result of it is easy for well-versed sequence followers to have a look at RE Village promotional supplies and make up a great-sounding math equation: Resident Evil 4 plus Resident Evil 7 equals… Resident Evil 8? (Within the latest sport’s brand, “Village” has its letters mocked up in order that “VIII” seems in daring. However it’s not RE8. No matter you say, Capcom.)
The latest sport’s titular village actually resembles the downtrodden Spanish villa from 2005’s RE4. Varied houses and shacks seem in a countryside (this time snowier and extra mountainous), related by fields of tall grass, historic structure, creepy gothic stuff, and rubble left behind by the city’s once-thriving inhabitants. Ungreased metallic doorways squeak, spooky sounds linger in breezes, and monsters and zombies snarl in numerous hard-to-discern instructions.
The RE7 affect is most evident with its first-person traversal and fight (extra on these in a bit), nevertheless it moreover seeps in throughout an early plot sequence the place numerous villains argue in regards to the destiny of protagonist Ethan Winters. Like RE7, this can be a household affair, with a matriarch named Miranda apparently calling the bad-guy pictures. (No, Miranda isn’t the “tall girl.”) In contrast to RE7, this sequence hints at a bigger gameplay scope: 5 important villains in all, every with their very own lairs filled with monsters, puzzles, and frights.
RE7 revolved round a single Louisiana-bayou property with smaller splinter areas, and it felt like a callback to the unique sequence’ intricate mansions. Puzzles and new objects pressured a major quantity of re-traversal by means of numerous flooring, hallways, and basements—and heaped on the sense of terror about what may come subsequent, do you have to return someplace you have been earlier than.
This overview’s first spate of dangerous information comes from how Capcom fails to execute on this plot level and broaden RE Village‘s scope. Certain sufficient, the sport’s central village connects gamers to a community of lairs, unlocking one by one for Ethan to discover in a journey to avoid wasting his daughter. However these lairs are terribly uneven.
Opulence within the observatory, bloodstains within the basement
RE Village‘s greatest lair is its first one, managed by the fiendish, charismatic Countess Alcina Dimitrescu and her three vampiric daughters. Capcom has been bullish about that includes this lair in previews and demos, since it is the opulent stuff of corset-bound dilettantes traipsing round citadel estates with neoclassicist aptitude. Opulence within the observatory contrasts violently with entrails and bloodstains within the wine cellar. (No matter they’re bottling down there, it is purple.)
Dimitrescu’s citadel is certainly a picturesque showcase for the sequence’ trendy, first-person mixture of motion and puzzles, even when it wraps up too briefly and with little in the best way of memorable puzzles. That is saved partially by an ongoing wrestle to piece collectively precisely the way to take down the members of the Dimitrescu household—discovering their weaknesses and exploiting them in cleverly designed battle chambers, all whereas every member of the family taunts and cackles. (A few of them have an important trick of dissolving into swarms of locusts, which implies Capcom can mess together with your first-person views when a ghoul “flies” by means of your view.)
The remaining “lairs” and sequences cannot keep the identical momentum, even when the central village connecting them continues to generate surprises, scares, puzzles, and discoveries each time you choose by means of its corners and discover new paths and doorways. From a basic Resident Evil sequence standpoint, the most important breakdown between these numerous lairs is one in all plot and stakes. Girl Dimitrescu captivates along with her mixture of charisma and obvious centuries of life, and her voice actor revels in proudly owning each scene. Plus, battling by means of her citadel whereas fixing puzzles is the gooey stuff of nice online game storytelling, as a result of its chambers and secrets and techniques inform her life’s story in delightfully natural methods.
However the different lairs really feel divorced from this design philosophy. Essentially the most intricate one, owned by a dollmaker, can be the smallest, and it leaves zero hint of how its proprietor lived and suffered as much as the purpose the place she turned a villain—a indisputable fact that turns into obviously obvious when a textual content doc on the phase’s finish tells her story in roughly 4 paragraphs. As an alternative, the bodily location revolves round hallucinations and creepy dolls. That is all nicely and good if we’re speaking a few horror movie, however since this home’s puzzles not often surpass the brink of “comply with a path by the nostril till a scary minimize scene performs out,” it feels prefer it blows some trippy alternatives, both with lore or gameplay (not to mention each mixed).
Do you lycan what you see?
Further lairs fall into the identical rut: abrupt conclusions, underwhelming puzzles, and last-second dumps of lore that trace at a extra concerned and fascinating relationship with the village’s looming Miranda character. These lairs’ copy-and-pasted geometry makes their respective rooms look too comparable, whether or not they’re in a boggy, swamp-like biome or a pipes-and-concrete refinery. Within the latter, retracing steps to resolve puzzles or use newly found objects turns into an utter chore of cross-referencing a built-in map to determine the place the heck to run to subsequent.
Possibly a producer made some onerous calls halfway by means of manufacturing to get the sport out the door—and there is no telling what sort of compromises the worldwide pandemic choked out of Capcom’s greatest intentions. However the finish outcome pales in comparison with RE7‘s impeccable execution, and RE Village‘s elevated emphasis on fight does not make up for the sport’s shortcomings.
Some basic RE video games have made fight extra intense by forcing gamers to run away from fights to avoid wasting their ammo. RE Village hints at the same philosophy in its very first battle—and it is an absolute sequence spotlight, because of its insane odds, nastily designed zombies (dubbed “lycans” right here), and path by means of numerous homes the place gamers should shortly use built-in explosives, barricades, and dirt clouds to outlast a timer.
This opening conflagration additionally makes clear that lifeless foes drop cash, and the toughest ones drop numerous cash. The storefront idea from video games like RE4 returns, and gamers can routinely purchase ammo, objects, space for storing, new weapons, gun upgrades, and extra, along with the copious provides discovered all through the sport’s buildings and catacombs. Plus, a number of of the sport’s earliest fights are easy and manageable sufficient to provide you time to breathe and spot these cash. Surviving RE Village comes right down to this: you may run, however perhaps you ought to keep and combat.