Capcom has been busy preparing for the 25th anniversary of one of its greatest franchises, Resident Evil. So it is no surprise that part of the celebration was a brand new addition in the form of Resident Evil Village. For months we have been teased with trailers, gameplays and hints at the story that would unfold – but now it’s time. So was it worth the wait? You bet your sweet nine-foot vampire lady tush it was! Capcom and the team behind Resident Evil know how to scare players out of their seats while simultaneously pulling at our heartstrings, giving us puzzles that require the use of your noggin and a story so enthralling you can’t pull your eyes away.
So yes, before we even get into the bread and butter of this review, I am saying that you need to play Resident Evil Village. It’s also good to point out from here forward will contain more spoilers than times you hear the terrifying characters speak the name Ethan Winters.
Resident Evil Village Begins with a Story
Resident Evil Village opens three years after the events of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Ethan and Mia Winters have relocated to a quiet Romanian village to escape the horrors of their past and raise their infant daughter Rose. Aside from the residual PTSD, things are going well until Chris Redfield shows up, kills Mia and kidnaps Rose. Ethan then goes on a mission to uncover the truth of what is happening and get his daughter back.
Capcom teased the nine-foot vampire queen Lady Dimitrescu and like the rest of the world, I couldn’t wait for her to chase me around the castle. But, she isn’t the only villain or even the final one. She is just one of the four “children” of the mysterious Mother Miranda. The others include Karl Heisenberg, Salvatore Moreau and Donna Beneviento, who each have their own unique zone.
After Ethan gets caught early on, he is handed over to Heisenberg to deal with, but through some quick choices on my part, we make it out unscathed. Except that Ethan’s escape route takes us right into Castle Dimitrescu. After surviving the castle, I was kicked back out to the village with a jar containing a piece of Ethan’s daughter. The goal then becomes to seek out the other three, take the jars back and stop Mother Miranda. In the end, Ethan is successful in saving his daughter and sacrifices his life to put an end to any future horrors stemming from this village.
Plot Twists Worthy of the Resident Evil Franchise
While I was excited that Resident Evil Village was heavily playing into European horror in the form of vampires and werewolves, I was worried they would struggle to tie it back into the franchise. But, in one of the game’s few plot twists, I learned that Mother Miranda was a normal woman who lost her daughter to the Spanish Flu over 100 years ago and, in a moment of desperation, found a mysterious mold. Yup, the same mold that Eveline from Resident Evil VII could control and used to terrify the Bakers.
In fact, Miranda provided samples of the mold and other information to the men responsible for creating Eveline! She also worked alongside Oswell Spencer, one of the founders of the Umbrella Corporation. She has been manipulating the people of the village to test her mold on them to find the perfect vessel to bring her daughter back to life. Four of those tests resulted in Lady Dimitrescu and the others. In fact, she isn’t a vampire, but because of a hereditary blood disease, she needs to consume human flesh and blood to strengthen her regenerative powers. This was such a fantastic way to link together this old-school horror and the horror science of Resident Evil.
The biggest plot twist within Resident Evil Village comes towards the end. After Ethan’s death at the hands of Mother Miranda, Chris finds the real Mia, who shares that Ethan isn’t normal. At first, I thought, well, duh, he has been missing three fingers this whole time and used a magic tonic to restore his hand. But that isn’t just a running gag from Capcom. It turns off that at the beginning of Resident Evil VII, Ethan actually died! However, he is alive because he was infected by the mold, which has given him regenerative abilities.
It makes sense that he and Mia would have a daughter who has her own unique abilities. And after the credits, Capcom gives us a peek at a possible future installment to the franchise. In a short clip, we see a much older Rose sneak off to pay her father’s grave a visit before getting picked up by one of Chris’ men. It looks like Chris stayed true to Ethan’s wish and helped raise Rose in his absence. Personally, I can’t wait to see her as a main character within the franchise.
Guns, Upgrades and Enemies for Days
Now, Resident Evil Village is more than just a great story. The gameplay, as with all Resident Evil games, was phenomenal. It is a nice blend of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Each of the five significant zones includes a plethora of enemies, mini-bosses, puzzles and mazes to navigate before ending with their final boss fight. There is never a moment where I felt like I was reliving a previous portion in both visual, audio and the mechanics introduced.
While four out of the five major boss fights were astounding, it wouldn’t be right for me not to point out my lack of interest in Donna’s fight. Everything about the zone and puzzles leading up to it was great. The dolls were terrifying and the mannequin puzzle in the basement really made me think. But the final act was lackluster. All I needed to do was keep moving quickly and find the Angie doll three times. It honestly felt like it was over before it ever started. It would have been far more interesting if I had gotten my weapons back and faced off against the other dolls while seeking out Angie.
A personal favorite addition to Resident Evil Village comes in the form of The Duke. He is a traveling merchant who seems to have agreements with each of Mother Miranda’s children but isn’t against helping Ethan along the way. He had a limited supply of ammo, tools and weapons and would buy the items I collected for in-game currency. The Duke also gave me a way to upgrade my weapons and permanently upgrade Ethan’s stats through cooking. This allowed me to customize my playstyle by focusing on upgrading the guns I used consistently.
Overall, Resident Evil Village is a must-play for longtime fans of the franchise and people who enjoy horror games in general. Honestly, I think anyone who loves narrative single-player first-person shooters should as well. While it does tie directly into Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, there isn’t an overwhelming need to play both to understand what is going on. The story within is enthralling and all of the non-playable characters have their own unique personalities, zones and storylines. The icing on the cake is how well Capcom tied both games back into the entire Resident Evil franchise. Phenomenal job!