In the midst of celebrating Resident Evil‘s 25th anniversary, the newest mainline entry, Resident Evil Village, has been released. Set as a direct continuation to 2017’s Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, Resident Evil Village sees Ethan and Mia Winters trying to start a new life in Europe following everything they went through in Louisiana. However, their peaceful life doesn’t last long as they are soon thrust into the horrors of Lycans, Vampires, and all the ilk you’d expect.
Resident Evil Village takes the basis that was Resident Evil VII and merges it with Resident Evil 4. The game takes a more action-based approach this time compared to Ethan’s last outing. Though there’s more of an action focus over the typical scares, there are still plenty of tense, horror-filled moments throughout that had me just as terrified as any moment in the series.
The titular village is a cozy little place. Though it feels like it could have been expanded, the village has loads of places to explore and secrets to find. Between trips from the village itself, each of the four Lords have their own distinct areas they inhabit. These areas are all visually unique and feature a whole host of different enemies and hazards to avoid. While it’s great that there are more areas to explore in the game, some of the areas, and thus those Lords in those areas, feel like they’re done and over with way too soon.
The iconic item boxes are gone again in this game, and, instead, item management is handled through a Resident Evil 4 like briefcase. Other things like key items, crafting materials, and treasures are separated in different menus making item management even easier. Then, there’s the game’s merchant, The Duke. The Duke offers items, crafting recipes, weapons, and upgrades to purchase as well as some interesting story bits every once in a while.
The combat of Resident Evil Village feels like a slight evolution from Resident Evil VII, however, it doesn’t feel as good as it should for how action-heavy the game has become. Enemies, especially Lycans, can move erratically thus making it harder to aim and get off accurate shots with how slow aiming feels. The block mechanic feels underutilized as well, and that is more apparent on the easier difficulties where I made it through runs of Standard and Casual without ever needing to use the block.
On PlayStation 5, Resident Evil Village looks stunning. With fidelity mode being in 4k and having ray tracing turned on, Resident Evil Village is easily one of the best-looking games on the console and has plenty of beautiful vistas and rooms that I couldn’t help myself to just stop and stare at. Unfortunately, the frame rate took a few noticeable dips at times. Without ray tracing on, Resident Evil Village still maintains the 4k resolution and runs at a consistent 60 FPS throughout. Load times are basically nonexistent as well thanks to the PS5’s SSD.
The characters of Resident Evil have always been one of the highlights of each game in the series, and Resident Evil Village is no exception to that trend. Ethan has evolved into a better character compared to his first appearance in the series. Resident Evil Village introduces some great additions to the series’s villains in the form of everyone’s favorite giant vampire, Lady Dimitrescu, and Karl Heisenberg being the stand out character in the game. Fan-favorite Chris Redfield returns in an interesting way but feels like he could’ve been in the game more.
Finally returning since 2012’s Resident Evil 6 is Mercenaries mode. However, you can’t access the mode until you beat the main game. The mode itself turns Resident Evil Village into an arcadey, time attack, and score-chasing bonanza full of enemies for you to take out. Each map in Mercenaries mode tasks you with eliminating a certain amount of enemies within the given time. The more enemies you take out increases your time and combo score multiplier which nets a higher rank once complete. There are also plenty of arcade-style abilities such as health buffs or enemy debuffs to experiment with as you progress through each area in a map.
Unfortunately, Mercenaries mode still falters in some aspects. As aforementioned, Resident Evil Village‘s combat isn’t its strong suit, thus Mercenaries mode can be a tad cumbersome especially when trying to get the highest ranks in the harder versions of maps. Then, there’s the lack of variety when it comes to maps. There are only 4 distinct maps with each having its own harder version, thus making the mode feel repetitive the more you play.
Overall, Resident Evil Village is an excellent continuation in Capcom’s streak of releasing great entries in the series. While combat doesn’t always feel the best, Resident Evil Village makes up for it with excellent moments of tension, great forms of exploration, and an engrossing story that pulls you all the way to the end.
Score: 8 out of 10
Reviewed on PlayStation 5