Welcome back, readers! Over the summer I played some great games and watched some excellent anime that I am absolutely thrilled to cover this semester. I would like to kick off this semester of blogging by reviewing the first game I played this summer: the highly anticipated Resident Evil Village.
I vividly remember how ecstatic I was on release day, and I have a feeling I’ll remember my giddy excitement for years to come. This being a game I and countless other fans had been waiting over a year for, I preordered it the day the game was available for pre-order, way back in winter 2020. (Technically the day after because the website was acting weird with everyone and their mother pre-ordering a copy). A few agonizing months later, release day–May 7th, 2021–arrived. I’d been tracking my package all week, and every time I saw a UPS truck in my area I’d get all jumpy, thinking my copy was on the truck. It was an excitement I hadn’t experienced in literal years, which is kinda depressing now that I think about it. Anyway, when I got an alert on my phone saying my copy had been delivered, I sped home, popped the disc into my Xbox, and waited (ugh, MORE waiting) for the game to install. I spent the next few days playing it, then replaying it. I could not have asked for a more perfect start to my summer.
Resident Evil Village is the long-awaited sequel to the groundbreaking Resident Evil: Biohazard, which I reviewed previously. Upon the release of its first trailer, many fans were concerned that the game would essentially be a carbon copy of the smash hit Resident Evil 4 (2005) due to its atmosphere and village setting. Since its release, however, many fans have agreed that Village not only pays homage to 4, but to other games in the series as well, most notably 5 and even the 1996 original. Many game critics have described it as a compilation of Resident Evil’s “greatest hits” for this reason. Despite being clearly influenced by earlier games in the long-running series, Village is very much its own game and even incorporates elements never seen before in the franchise, all of which I will discuss in depth later on.
Village’s story takes place a few years after Biohazard’s story. Ethan Winters, his wife Mia, and their infant daughter Rosemary, nicknamed Rose, are living a seemingly peaceful life in rural Europe. But because peaceful lives apparently don’t exist in the Resident Evil universe, series mainstay Chris Redfield appears and shoots Mia several times before having his team kidnap Ethan and Rose. Ethan wakes up some time later to find that the vehicle he was in seems to have crashed, and the people tasked with transporting him and Rose are dead. Rose is nowhere to be found, and so Ethan, like any good father, makes his way into the village in search of her. It doesn’t take long for our hero to realize that the village is no ordinary village: it is crawling with monsters, for starters, and is governed by four “Lords”, who are themselves governed by a mysterious figure known as Mother Miranda. Ethan must once again go through hell and back to save someone he cares about.
Village fixes many issues Biohazard suffered from. Perhaps the most prominent of these is the enemy variation. Biohazard essentially had one non-boss enemy known as the Molded. While this enemy had three variations to it, it still felt as though you were fighting the same thing over and over because, well, you were. While the heavier and stronger variation vomits acid and the four-legged one can insta-kill you if you’re not careful, these are the only differences they share, as they all look and sound the same. Shooting the same enemies over and over can get frustrating, especially on repeat playthroughs. It is evident that the developers took this criticism to heart, as Village features the most diverse roster of enemies a Resident Evil game has seen in years. Lycans, giant, blood-sucking bats, trolls, Village has it all in the enemy department. While lycans have several enemy types, each one is drastically different from the other, both in terms of physical appearance and attack patterns. The enemies vary depending on location. For instance, in the main village and in certain parts of Morearu’s Reservoir you will find lycans. Lurking around Castle Dimitrescu are the Moroaica, emaciated women who’ve been drained of their blood and want yours, and hovering over the elegant rooftops are the Samca, which are hooded, winged creatures with unnaturally long tongues. Skulking around Heisenberg’s Factory are sci-fi-esque enemies such as Haulers and Soldats, which have four enemy types. Again each type looks and behaves differently, and players quickly learn–usually the hard way–that a Soldat Panzer cannot be defeated the same way as a Soldat Eins. The diverse enemy list, coupled with the fact that no two enemy types can be disposed of in the same way, makes Village a refreshing gaming experience, even on repeat playthroughs. Gone are the days of mindlessly shooting at enemies–Village forces players to think on their feet and come up with different strategies with which to eliminate enemies. Furthermore, each enemy fits their respective location’s aesthetic. It makes sense that Moroaica wear ratty clothing and wield daggers, as Castle Dimitrescu is undeniably medieval-inspired. It makes sense that each Soldat is literally a cyborg, as Heisenberg’s Factory is very much technology-based. Not a single enemy feels out of place in this regard.
I didn’t include any House Beneviento enemies in the previous paragraph because apart from the boss of that area, there’s only one enemy, and it’s so horrifying that it deserves its own paragraph. I’m talking about the Baby, otherwise known as Giant Fetus Baby, otherwise known as WHATTHEFU-OHGODITSCOMINGFORMEHELP. Gamers around the globe have collectively pissed their pants at this abomination, a nearly six feet tall fetus who can turn even the most conservative of people pro-choice. What makes this enemy so terrifying, apart from its design, is the ways in which it’s introduced and utilized. Upon entering House Beneviento, players will eventually descend to the basement, which completely ignores Horror Rule #1: Don’t Go Into the Basement. There they are forced to take apart pieces of a Mia doll for some puzzle-solving. While detaching arms and legs from a wooden doll of your dead wife is undeniably creepy, it gets even creepier when players eventually descend into a well that gave me major 98’s Ring vibes. Once players pick up a key item at the bottom of the well, the true terror begins, as nearby there are sounds of a baby crying. What’s so scary about that? Well, it’s the first hint that something’s not right about this place. Player’s suspicions are confirmed when they return to the main puzzle room to find that the doll has disappeared, and the room is bathed in an eerie red glow. Naturally, your first response is to get the hell out of there, which is precisely what you do. Except blocking the exit is a disgusting giant baby that calls you “Da-da” and can kill the player instantly by eating Ethan whole, exclaiming “Yummy!” Oh, and by the way, you are completely defenseless during this portion of the game, meaning you can only do two things: run, and hide.
While I had seen brief gameplay of streamers playing this portion before attempting it myself, playing it firsthand was just as scary of an experience as if I had gone in blindly. This was due to a number of factors: I was playing it at night (would not recommend), and I was wearing headphones. The sound design and music used in this chase sequence are especially spine-tingling. Coupled with the intimate first-person perspective, these three factors contribute to a truly unforgettable experience. The baby sounds like an actual baby, only its cries and laughter are slightly distorted, further adding to the overall eeriness. Players are tasked with finding several items that will aid them in their escape while being pursued by the baby. Just when you think you’ve lost it, the baby bursts through a door, forcing you to go back the way you came and hide and wait until it’s safe, or at least as safe as it gets. It appears a third and final time as you are waiting for the elevator that’ll take you upstairs and away from the hellish basement, and I feel this part is the one that’s the most tension-filled and nail-biting, as you are waiting an agonizingly long time for the elevator while the baby’s squeals get closer and closer. The instant the player steps into the elevator, a scripted event plays in which the monster appears again, rearing its slimy head as you ascend to the main floor. Perhaps the scariest aspect of this is the fact that the baby isn’t real, but a hallucination. This section, while a small portion of a much larger game, stands out not just for the terror it brings players, but for its experimental nature. Resident Evil isn’t known for psychological horror, that’s more Silent Hill’s thing, but this section proves that they can effectively achieve this certain brand of horror. Although there is a scientific explanation behind the creature, knowing the reasoning behind it somehow adds to the terror. Only time will tell if Resident Evil attempts psychological horror again in a future title. A part of me wants it to because of how effective their attempt in Village was, but another part of me wants the series to stick to giving players power when fighting enemies because I don’t know if my heart can handle another baby chase sequence.
Resident Evil is a series known for its larger than life characters, and those in Village are no exception. One of my favorite aspects of Village was the Four Lords, who each have their own distinctive personality and abilities. While the Internet’s favorite vampire, Lady Dimitrescu, is quite literally larger than life, she has the personality to match. This is mostly due to her voice actress, Maggie Robertson’s, portrayal of her. Robertson was practically born for this role, as her voice perfectly embodies the intimidating yet elegant nature of Lady D. While Donna Beneviento speaks only once during the game, her chilling design accompanies her location’s eerie vibe. Salvatore Morearu stands out not just for his grotesque design but for his unexpectedly emotional interior: as ugly as he is, you can’t help but feel sorry for the guy. My personal favorite Lord and perhaps the most Resident Evil-like of them all is Karl Heisenberg. Aside from Lady D, he has the most screen time and overall presence in the game. Voice actor Neil Newborn expertly captures Heisenberg’s smug, charming personality. What also stands out about the character is that unlike the three other Lords, who worship Mother Miranda, he despises her. He even goes so far as to convince Ethan to team up with him to defeat her. The inevitable boss fight with him is over-the-top and ridiculous, and I love it. Mother Miranda herself is so shrouded in mystery that for the majority of the game, I found myself questioning whether she even existed at all. Eventually, Ethan meets her, and quickly realizes that she’s about as villainous as they come. This is due to her striking character design and the sheer power she possesses. She is undoubtedly mad with power, as she wants to use Rose as a vessel for her own dead daughter, and the final showdown with her is nothing short of epic.
While Ethan was more or less indifferent to the tragedy that befell the Baker family in Biohazard, he has more of a personality in Village. Early on in the game, Ethan runs into the few remaining survivors in the village, most of whom are wounded or dying. One man eventually turns into a lycan, biting and infecting anyone he sees. Ethan fails to save a young woman who falls into a fire caused by the lycan, and the player can practically feel the hopelessness and anger in his voice. In addition, this scene expertly establishes the fact that aside from the various monsters running rampant through the village, you are truly alone.
Except Ethan isn’t entirely alone, as he eventually meets the Duke, a mysterious, rotund character from whom players can upgrade weapons and purchase ammo, healing items, and even recipes. He is an entirely revamped version of Resident Evil 4’s iconic Merchant. While 4’s Merchant appears in only one cutscene, the Duke appears in several, and even transports Ethan to his final confrontation with Mother Miranda. The Duke also assists Ethan in his search for his daughter, while at the same time remaining ambiguous: what is he doing in a village overrun with monsters? Whose side is he on? This could, of course, be all chalked up to “video game logic,” but it’s interesting to theorize what his true intentions might be, if any.
Players can even find valuable treasures hidden around the game map and sell them to the Duke for Lei, the currency used in the game. Many of these treasures can be obtained by defeating optional mini bosses, giving Village an open world-feel that is rarely seen in mainstream horror games. Players can also collect meat, poultry, and seafood and bring them to the Duke, who will whip up recipes that enhance Ethan’s running speed, defense, and overall health.
Another thing Village offers is replayability, as there are dozens of challenges and players must meet certain requirements to complete them. These challenges range from defeating a boss in a certain amount of time to possessing a certain amount of Lei. After beating the game, players unlock The Mercenaries, an addictive minigame that has appeared in earlier Resident Evil titles. There are several challenges attached to this game mode as well. Completing challenges awards players with Completion Points, or CP, which can be exchanged for weapons and weapon parts, figures, concept art, and everyone’s favorite: infinite ammo. Having infinite ammo, especially for powerful weapons such as magnums, make completing the game on harder difficulties a breeze, so if you value your sanity, you’ll definitely want to save up your CP.
Like Biohazard, Village’s story is an emotional one. I don’t usually go into spoiler territory, but there’s no other way I can explain this without getting all spoilery. Ethan ultimately sacrifices himself so Rose, Chris, and Mia can escape from the village, which gets blown to smithereens in typical Resident Evil fashion. It is this selfless, heroic act that makes Ethan one of the greatest protagonists, and dads, in gaming history. I’ll admit, the post-credits cutscene with a teenage Rose visiting her father’s grave made me tear up a little. Oh yeah, and the reason Mia’s alive is because the Mia players saw in the beginning was actually Miranda. Okay, that’s about as spoilery as I’ll get here.
This isn’t to say Village isn’t without its faults. My main problem with the game is the fact that towards the end of the game, when playing as Chris Redfield, players enter a room with readable documents that reveal a bunch of exposition. This is a textbook example of telling instead of showing, and Biohazard suffered from this same problem near the end of its game. This sudden information overload sticks out like a sore thumb, especially in an otherwise action-packed segment. Other than this, I have no other major qualms about the game. It’s innovative, fun, emotional, and even experimental at times. Resident Evil Village is the perfect game to kick off the series’ twenty-five year run, as it modernizes many elements from previous entries while also not being afraid to try new things. Village is available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Playstation 5, Playstation 4, Google Stadia, and PC.
—Brittany Crosse, Blog Editor
Brittany Crosse’s Bio:
Brittany Crosse is a senior at Lewis University who has previously attended Moraine Valley Community College. She is majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and hopes to one day make a career out of writing short stories, which has been a goal of hers ever since she was little. In addition to writing, she also plans to teach fiction writing at the university level. Her interests outside of writing include TV shows, anime, music, video games, and books, her favorite authors being Neal Shusterman, Stephen King, and Haruki Murakami. Brittany spends most of her time with her dog Cordelia, a.k.a. “Cordy.”