‘Resident Evil: Village’ Is Worth Visiting (Video Game Review)

After two amazing remakes, developer Capcom has delivered a new installment to the biggest horror series in games. Resident Evil: Village is the 8th official entry with “VIll” continuing the tradition of franchise titles having fun with number/letter swapping (My personal fav being Step Up 2 the Streets). The longest entry in years, Village is a direct follow-up to 2017’s VII. That means we’re killing fools found footage style like it’s the late 00s. Still, what the remakes of 2 and 3 had that I adored was heavily leaning into the campy dialogue of the PS1 originals. Yes, the OG games voice-acting was probably an unintentional result of weird North American translations, but Jill Sandwich is eternal. Would Village stick with VII’s more 70s Southern gothic approach? And what about all the heavy combat shown in the trailers, making VIII look like a spiritual successor to RE4, arguably the most beloved entry of them all?


Three years after the events at the Baker grounds, Ethan Winters and his wife Mia have a newborn baby named Rose to care for. They’ve relocated to a lovely home somewhere in Eastern Europe. But Ethan is still uneasy about all the chainsaw mayhem they barely survived back in Louisiana. On the other hand, Mia is totally over it and very much over her husband’s handwringing. She’s that simmering brand of hostile while is Ethan is merely boring old Ethan. After a few minutes of domestic squabbles, Chris Redfield shows up with a squad of commandos and shoots up the Winters’ home. A number of those bullets fly directly into Mia. Ethan exclaims a de-facto, “What the hell, Chris?!” only to wake up in the snow beside a ringing phone and a dead man.

This explosive opening was a good sign. Even though I love being scared, when it comes to the RE series, I prefer the whacked-out 80s sci-fi zombie fests with outrageous slimy creatures and characters that are not at all thinly veiled archetypes like Claire Redfield’s can-do college grad and Leon Kennedy’s can-do rookie officer. VII was a clear attempt to make the series scary. Frequently, it delivered. Possessed Mia, who macheted Ethan’s appendages, was a terrific Paranormal Activity stress inducer. The first-person POV added to the heightened thrills. As a ‘one-off,’ I dug it.

However, I just wasn’t sure about another installment that lacked a Nemesis, an underground facility, or one-liners (3 Remake‘s Jill to Nemesis: “Next time, taking the f@#%ing hint!”). This is a series that revels in battling the Umbrella corporation’s unchecked hubris. The monsters and villains come and go and return (hello, Wesker), but ultimately, heroes like Jill can’t ever really take down the faceless Umbrella entity. VII did away with that, focusing on a more personal story about this bland dude named Ethan who wants to save his wife from the messy, rural estate of the Bakers, a family akin to Leatherface’s Hewitt clan.


Happily, Village does away with the insular Chainsaw vibe and replaces it with the still simple goal of Ethan now trying to save baby Rose, but it’s in a much bigger area than even RE2. By bigger, I mean what you can explore. Sure, RE3 was set in Racoon City, but really, it was just a few streets. The design structure for Village has Ethan exploring a seemingly abandoned village and the four places that surround it: a castle, a factory, etc. What’s great about this is we get segmented parts of the series, which has worked well in the past. Castle Dimitrescu, where the already much memed Lady Dimitrescu and her three “daughters” reside, is a classic RE mansion furnished with regal paintings, spiraling staircases, and China vases to break (handgun ammo!) The factory is a dirty, dark, dank version of the underground Hive with endless rows of red-eyed Terminator monstrosities. And then there’s a remote dollhouse filled with… well, I don’t wanna spoil, but it’s genuinely creepy. Not loud-in-your-face all caps scary like the Baker’s place but truly unsettling nonetheless.

My first playthrough clocked in at 12 hours on normal. By contrast, RE2 was 8, and RE3 was 6. Sixty bucks for 12 hours might seem like a lot, but if you’re a fan, you’ll be replaying to unlock secrets, purchase better weapons, etc. (No new outfits though, since this is first-person). I’ve played the RE2 and RE3 about four times each. How many times did I play VII? Once.

As I mentioned before, the ‘one-off” vibe made the whole experience of VII one that I didn’t feel the urge to play again. Ethan Winters is the least interesting main character of the series. I just don’t love hanging out with him like I do Claire, Leon, or Jill. He’s just a “normal” guy, whereas most RE protagonists are usually specially trained ops to some degree. Claire is a college gal, but she’s often talked about how her big bro Chris trained her, yada yada. I know this might sound silly as we’re talking about characters with zero no inner lives but darn it, I enjoy the OG crew’s big exclamations and bigger guns. Winters, I think, is supposed to be relatable even though he loses his hands and other appendages more than any real person I’ve ever known. His motivations are easy to digest: save spouse, save baby, but he really lacks a discernible personality. That said, early on, Ethan does exclaim, “why does everyone keep dying on me?!” I chuckled.

You know who doesn’t lack personality? Everyone else in Village. From Lady D to the Duke (the merchant you buy stuff from), Village is filled wall-to-sepia-toned-wall with delicious campy goodness. Take a gander at the photo above. That’s Bela, one of Lady D’s daughters. She’s just taken a chunk out of Ethan’s hand (seriously, what is it with his limbs?), smiles with blood dripping down her chin, and says, “mmmm, man meat!” That’s what keeps me coming back and why I started a new game (which included all my previous weapons) immediately.

Speaking of, the arsenal and combat are indeed reminiscent of RE4. While ammo for the big weapons, especially in the opening hours, can be scarce, you’re mostly encouraged to shoot at everything. You can also guard by hitting L1 (on PS5), which won’t hurt your target but pushes them back. It’s closest to the dodge button in RE3.

Every creature you take down drops “Lei” (the game’s currency) or becomes items of value. After defeating Bela, for instance, her remains are a “Perfect Crystal Skull,” to which I quickly traded in for a weapon upgrade.

I look forward to my eventual attempt to try and finish Village in under three hours for a trophy. On the PS5, the game is a stunner, although I think it can look too dark as an OLED owner no matter how much I fussed with the HDR setting. Also, even though every weapon felt powerful with strong sound design, I wish haptic feedback and adaptive triggers were better utilized.

Be sure to watch the end credits for a hint at the possible direction of part 9, er, IX. If it’s still focused on Winters’ lack of limbs, might I suggest Resident Evil: AppendIX. Or the completely serviceable CrucifIX, or the nonsensical QuIXotic.

Resident Evil: Village is available for PS4, Xbox One, PS5,  Xbox Series X|S, Google Stadia, and Microsoft Windows.

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Note: PS5 code supplied by the publisher.

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