From the very first trailers and promotional images of Resident evil village the audience was literally split in half. On the one hand we had the purists of the brand, who at the sight of werewolves and vampires, they will have sighed fearing that once again this eighth chapter would be too detached from what was the original formula of the brand. On the other hand, however, we had just that slice of users who, after the return to the more classic formula of survival horror of 7 (although revisited in a modern key through a visual in first person), he had great confidence and even hype for Village, which narratively had to have the burdensome task of closing all those questions left open by his direct predecessor.
It is therefore necessary to underline it since the introduction of this review, Capcom (or Cap-God at this point one could say) has once again managed to amaze with the eighth chapter of this brand, first of all by perfecting and refining the gameplay formula already seen in 7 but also making a huge step forward with what concerns the lore of the saga, so dear to longtime fans, thus making Village a fundamental piece that in addition to containing precious goodies concerning the past of the brand, lays a solid foundation for what will be the future of the latter, thus acting as a bridge between what has been and what will be Resident Evil for years to come.
A plot full of surprises
Telling the plot events that take place in the Village in a spoiler way would really be a crime given the surprises and twists that Capcom has kept in store for players, so in this section there will only be a general smattering of the narrative plot, not going much beyond what has been seen in the trailers and demos of the title (which however only concern the introduction and do not go beyond the first two hours of play).
Resident Evil Village is set approx three years later the events that happened in the seventh chapter and once again follows the events of Ethan Winters, who after surviving the nightmare of the Baker mansion in Louisiana, lives with his wife Mia and their little Rose in a European country under the protection of Chris Redfield and its task force. The psychological trauma of the fight with Eveline is still fresh for the Winters, however just as the couple seemed to be getting used to their new life as ordinary people, Chris's team storms into their home, riddling Mia with bullets and kidnapping father and daughter. . Something goes wrong during the journey however, and Ethan finds himself so catapulted into a cold village in the shadow of a gloomy castle, determined to find his daughter and understand what lies behind the werewolf-like monsters that haunt this now devastated village.
As events progress it will be clear to both Ethan and the player that just like in 7, there is very little supernatural and magical in the various monsters and events present in this Resident Evil, and the discoveries that we witness at the end of Village not only close the circle opened by the Baker house, but they also connect in a precise and meticulous way with the events narrated in much older chapters of the saga, making this eighth title mainline one of the most important for the entire lore of the brand. The gameplay Resident Evil Village takes both hands from the solid system first person shooting experimented in the seventh chapter, however adding features that still make it more arcade of its predecessor.
First of all these novelties is the inclusion of a merchant itinerant in the various game areas, the Duke (who also has an exquisite reference to the Resident Evil 4 merchant). The latter is not only tasked with trading resources and ammunition with Ethan, but he can too upgrade weapons of our protagonist, increasing stats such as damage, magazine capacity and rate of fire. In addition to being a nice merchant, our friendly Duke is also a cook, able to prepare the dishes they provide permanent buffs to the protagonist if this brings him meat, poultry and fish that can be obtained by hunting the animals present inside the rural village.
Il crafting of various cures and ammunition is once again present, however also the inventory management, key feature of all the Resident Evil chapters, here it has been "simplified" and made more arcade, since the crafting materials, and also the key objects, will no longer occupy the famous inventory spaces, but will be kept in fact in a magic pocket that makes the management of our equipment much more accessible compared to the more hardcore and survival spirit of previous iterations. This innovation has therefore also led to the removal of the iconic green case present in the safe room, which no longer has a reason to exist since the problems in carrying too many key objects or materials for crafting no longer exist.
Although the gunplay in Village has remained almost unchanged compared to Resident Evil 7, in this new title you shoot much more, especially in the final stages of the game. This more action imprint, however, does not overly clog, given that the variety of enemies in and around the village is much larger than the usual mycomorphs we shot in the Baker mansion. Fans of the part more horror they must not despair, given that in Resident Evil Village there are many phases in which the tension is very high, and others in which even Ethan finds himself disarmed and helpless in the face of dangers.
The more arcade and action imprint present in some gameplay sections must absolutely not fool the survival horror purists. The hallmark of Resident Evil, that is the eerie atmosphere and the fear of what lies behind a corner, which since the end of the 90s made many fans of Villa Spencer and Racoon City fall in love, is constantly present and pressing even in this eighth main chapter of the Capcom series. The settings are the real protagonists of Village, and each of the four macro-areas present within the campaign offers not only different types of settings and enemies, but also very different gameplay situations, in order to do not let the pace of play drop at any time, which is never so cloying.
- puzzles, while not presenting cerebral difficulties to be resolved, they are present throughout the progression, as is the backtracking so peculiar to the essence of Resident Evil themselves. The village has in fact several mechanisms and locked doors requiring levers or cranks, which will therefore require the player to return to be visited once the specific key object in another game area has been obtained.
As regards the technical profile, once again Capcom manages to amaze everyone, raising its versatility as never before Proprietary RE Engine. In fact, if we had already had a taste of the potential of this tool with Resident Evil 7 and Devil May Cry 5, in the Village you can strongly smell the next-gen smell, with reflections, shadows and particles that would have seemed like science fiction until a few years ago. . The surprising thing is though too extreme stability as for Resident Evil Village FPS, which manages to run at 30 solid frames (except for some more excited situations outdoors) even on hardware like that of PlayStation 4 base, who now carries his fair years on his shoulders. Up For PS4 in addition, the performance mode allows Village to keep 60fps at 1080p, while obviously on PS5 the title is able to shoot in 4K / 60 FPS even with active Ray Tracing.
A good sound design it is essential in any self-respecting survival horror, and even in this juncture the latest effort by Capcom does not show quality drops, thanks to the pressing and anxious soundtracks composed by Shusaku Uchiyama, historical composer of the brand's music since the very first chapters. The advice to increase the immersion is obviously to play with headphones, as the 3D audio is also able to help the game to hear any lycan lurking or even the heavy footsteps of Lady Alcina Dimitrescu who hunts us through the rooms of his castle.
It is perhaps also worth spending a few words on this elusive matron who literally blew up the internet since it was revealed in the first trailers of the game, and who was in fact also face of the title marketing campaign. Without making too many spoilers to spoil the surprise, suffice it to say that in Capcom it was literally geniuses to ride the wave of Lady Dimitrescu, since by doing so they revealed almost nothing else of the many other surprises and enemies that are hidden in the inside the game, which is full of truly unpredictable events but which can only make both older fans and those approaching this historic saga smile.
In conclusion, one of the frequently mentioned aspects must obviously also be mentioned most criticized by Resident Evil, the longevity. In fact, the first run of the campaign requires approximately one ten hours to be completed without running too much, and this could definitely make a slice of the public turn up their noses. However, the very concept of Resident Evil is to have good replayability, and not just for speedrunners. In the Village there is in fact a NewGame + which preserves the unlockables and the weapons obtained through the different runs, as well as of course the return of the beloved mode Mercenaries, a series of timed challenges even more arcade able to test even the most hardcore spirit of the players who decide to face them. Finally, it should be remembered that the Village price is also contained Resident Evil Re: Verse, a real standalone multiplayer PvP title that will be released during this summer, and which can be redeemed by the owners of the eighth chapter at no additional cost.
Summing up, it can be said that Resident evil village represents the complete maturation of the first-person formula experienced with the courageous seventh chapter, winking both at that most nostalgic slice of the public of Villa Spencer and Umbrella, but also at those who have not been able to experience the founders of the genre survival horror, is approaching for the first time this type of video game inaugurated by the first Resident Evil. In some situations perhaps the arcade component takes a bit too much the place of the survival one in this eighth title, but this absolutely does not affect the soul of the latest effort from Capcom, which while looking to the future, remains firmly anchored to the principles that have allowed this franchise to enter the Olympus of the history of the medium itself.