Last year, one of our spooky October games was Resident Evil 7, so it’s only fitting that we take a look at Resident Evil Village this year.
Village picks up after the events of Resident Evil 7. Ethan Winters returns as the protagonist, trapped in an isolated village full of monsters as he searches for his kidnapped daughter. Like its predecessor, it has a tone that feels very unusual for Resident Evil at first, this time leaning into supernatural horror with vampires, werewolves, and similar creatures.
It attempts to explain all of this, of course, and I didn’t especially mind that shift in direction in the first place.
No, my major concern ahead of Village’s launch was that it might focus too much on action, and the demo together with the reviews left me with mixed feelings. But I saw enough encouragement from other survival horror fans that I took the plunge and bought Resident Evil Village (shortly after launch, in fact; I just ended up taking a long break partway through it).
Now that I’ve finished it, I have more mixed feelings than ever.
There are a lot of great things in Village. I loved the exploration in the village and the first major area. Searching for keys, backtracking, unlocking new areas – the classic gameplay loop was there. For me, the merchant dragged it down a bit, since finding treasure to sell to a merchant so I can buy items and upgrades isn’t the sort of thing I look for in a survival horror game (and I wasn’t crazy about enemies dropping resources, either).
The system wasn’t terrible, but my initial satisfaction of returning to a previous area with a new key item that let me unlock more areas and find more items faded into emptiness when I realized most of the new items would be treasures to sell.
You also can upgrade your physical attributes by killing animals for meat and bringing it back to the merchant. I actually liked that, since it made sense and didn’t make me feel too overpowered. In general, this whole aspect of the game was something I would have preferred to do without, but could accept because of the rest of the gameplay.
One section of the game was also so terrifying, I’d rank it up there as one of the scariest moments in any horror game I’ve played. I loved it.
But then, in the latter part of the game, it shifted toward action. It kept some basic aspects of the structure but had a bigger emphasis on shooting things. Then it veered even harder into action from there. Honestly, it went so far, I might have found it endearing if I wasn’t worried about Capcom’s direction for the series.
Can they just not help themselves? Are they still trying to appeal to two different audiences with the same game? Do they really want to make an action game and used this to test the waters?
If you’d asked me in the first half of the game, maybe even the first 3/4, I would have recommended Resident Evil Village in a heartbeat. It had action trappings that didn’t take away from the survival horror gameplay, and it followed in the footsteps of Resident Evil 7. But if you asked me during the final sections, I would have said no, they’ve gone back to action horror, it’s not like the old games at all.
Remember when Capcom went through a period of claiming each new Resident Evil game had both action sections and classic survival horror sections? That’s what this is. This is the game they claimed to have made so many times, but coming off of the success of Resident Evil 7 and the Resident Evil 2 remake’s return to horror, I’m not sure why they decided to do it.
I don’t know how I feel about Resident Evil Village, and I don’t know where the series is going. Resident Evil 9 could be an incredible horror game, or it could be a return to action. It all depends on what lessons Capcom takes from Resident Evil Village.---
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