Date Posted 16/02/2022
My apologies that the second review of 2022 has not been posted till mid-February, the reasons for this are effectively threefold. Firstly I have been training Columbo so most of my time has gone on juggling him and my life with Abbie. Two, I wanted to basically play Resident Evil Village to death in order to get the full experience, and thirdly and finally I have been having huge computer problems recently so just trying to get my computer to work properly has proven to be incredibly difficult. I suspect that one of the Grand Seniority’s rivals may have been attempting to hack my systems, honestly I have no idea why, I mean I’m stuck on Earth which is only remarkable for the beaches so no idea why anyone else would want it. Anyway, I am back now, my computer seems to be behaving itself so hopefully I can get back to posting regularly.
Right now that is out of the way, let us crack on...so Resident Evil Village (also known as Resident Evil VII) continues the story of the human pin cushion, namely Ethan Winters as he searches for his kidnapped daughter in a mysterious European village whilst being hunted by numerous monsters, including but not limited to a giant vampire lady and a weird fish-man. The game was released in 2021 and according to the trailers seemed to be a cross between Resident Evil 4 (referred to as RE4) and Resident Evil 7 (henceforth called RE7). I was a big fan of RE7 because it basically introduced me to the world of Resident Evil and I have subsequently played Resident Evil 2 Remake and the Resident Evil 3 Remake. RE2 was really good whereas RE3 grew on me after multiple playthroughs after I unlocked better ways to slaughtering my way through the enemies.
You are probably wanting me to just get to the point already so without further ado let’s jump in...the game begins with Ethan and Mia Winters’ relationship being a little strained. In the three years since the events of RE7 the pair have been living in a kind-of witness protection. Their handler being Chris Redfield. They have had a daughter named Rose but Ethan is frustrated with Mia’s refusal to talk about what happened with the Bakers. One night after putting Rose to bed, Mia is shot dead by non-other than Chris, who knocked Ethan unconscious and takes their child. Ethan wakes up on the roadside in the snow after the transport van he was in crashed, and the guard with him lies dead nearby.
Seeking help Ethan ventures into the forest and comes across a cabin in the woods that is ransacked by an unseen force as he explores. Going deeper into the woods Ethan discovers a small village, similarly to his experience in Louisiana he is there for a matter of minutes before he is attacked by monsters and has part of his hand bitten off by what appears to be a werewolf-like creature. He is quickly overwhelmed by many more creatures with a giant wolf-man leaping off a building with a massive hammer. But before Ethan can be killed the wolves mysteriously turn away and leave him alive.
Ethan encounters a crone that gives him some cryptic information, and as he searches for survivors he discovers that there is something very wrong with this village. Plus if he wants to save his daughter then he is going to have to take on the four formidable Lords of the village before confronting the one that all of them fear...
I will say right now that I have not played Resident Evil 4, however, I have seen a few people playing bits of it so I do know a little about it. From what I understand it was the game that basically defined the 3rd person shooter genre, and knew what it was. The underlying conspiracies and other bullshit from previous Resident Evil (RE) games was basically forgotten as Leon S Kennedy is sent into a village in Europe to rescue the President’s daughter. Whilst there he is attacked by the locals that are zombie-like creatures, some have weird tentacle heads, and Leon must also exchange words with a midget that for some reason dresses like Napoleon. The opening of Resident Evil Village (RE8) is almost a remake of RE4 with Ethan (like Leon) having to hold out against constantly respawning enemies before they are mysteriously called away with him being none the wiser as to why. The problem with this opening sequence is that it sets up the idea that you are going to be playing a game more like RE3 than RE7 with running and gunning being the preferred method of play. The problem is that it was RE7 that got me interested in the franchise, not RE3, and as Ethan was the protagonist of RE7 which also got away from the previous games conspiracies I was hoping the game would be more like that one. The thing is that bits of RE8 are like RE7 but bits are like RE4. Both the former and the latter knew what they were doing and what tone they were going for, but by flipping back and forth, RE8 just can’t seem to decide what it wants to be. The previous games I have played in the RE franchise at least stuck with a tone, RE2 was more horror and suspense, RE3 more action, RE7 horror and suspense, with RE8 trying to be horror and action which just doesn’t gel. Being chased around a relatively small house with tight corridors by Jack Baker was terrifying, being chased around a giant castle by the tall vampire lady: Lady Dimitrescu just isn’t
Which leads me nicely to the games main antagonists, the four Lords and their Ruler Mother Miranda. The majority of the marketing material for this game had a massive hard-on for Lady Dimitrescu with screen shots focussing heavily on her. Thing is she is the first of the four lords that you face, and therefore is the first you defeat. She is trying to be the Jack Baker or Mr X of RE8 by remorselessly hunting you down but her home is a castle which has numerous other rooms, wide corridors and easy means to get past her. So she is little more than a mild irritation. You quickly learn where she will and won’t go so if she blocks your path duck into one of her no-entry rooms and you are golden as she just wanders off. There is just no tension when she is around and the only thing close to a threat in the castle are the usual zombie-like creatures and her daughters. Now her daughters I personally found more attractive than Lady Dimitrescu, because despite the fact they are comprised of mostly bugs that can take on a solid form, it would be possible to have sex with them. I imagine that trying to have sex with Lady Dimitrescu would be like throwing a sausage down a motorway (if you don’t get the analogy then ask your parents). Anyway, the three daughters appear at various times and attempt to kill you but it turns out their weakness is cold wind (which makes you wonder why Lady Dimitrescu choose to live in a cold climate) so all you need to do is stand in a draught when they are around to freeze them, before putting a few shotgun blasts into their faces to end them. They could have been interesting enemies, they could have had more to them, but they are not given any screen time to develop. One asks why Ethan doesn’t love her (or something) but at that point the extent of their interaction has been the daughters stringing him up to a wall. Where was the love coming from? None of them are flirty or sexual in the way they interact with him so a line in which one of them questions his love or her love for him make no chuffing sense.
Lady Dimitrescu isn’t even a highlight in terms of the game’s bosses because she is dealt with so quickly after she naturally transforms in to a big monster. Jack Baker in his first human form with a chainsaw left me far more unnerved than what Dimitrescu became. In fact it is the second lord, or the Doll House sequence which stays far truer to the RE7 model and is what I wanted from a sequel. Sadly it is a very fleeting section that quickly gives way to huge monsters which aren’t an ounce as scary.
I guess what I am going to talk about now might count as a spoiler but honestly if you haven’t figured this one out yet then you probably don’t have a brain in your head. So you know how Ethan got his hand chainsaw-ed off in the opening of RE7, and it was simply stapled back on allowing him to use it as normal? Plus depending on how you played it was also possible for Ethan to get his leg chopped off which he stuck back on then washed with some first aid med, which, once again allowed the limb to function as normal. I want you to think this one thing: humans cannot do that. Which led to the question of whether Ethan was infected by the same mold that claimed the Bakers, and allowed Eveline to control them. As we know she couldn’t control Ethan so it was supposed to be left ambiguous regarding whether he was infected or not. But come on, he can staple his limbs back on, and regenerate from any wound so of course he is infected, how the hell would think he wasn’t? In this game it is confirmed that Ethan has been infected, but everyone acts like it is a shocking revelation, like every player and their dog haven’t already figured it out.
On the subject of spoilers only not really, remember me telling your about the opening sequence when Chris Redfield, you know one of the main characters of the franchise that has been with Resident Evil since the very first game, shoots Mia Winters in cold blood before stealing their baby? Well, you would be forgiven for thinking that maybe he is actually the antagonist, or one of the antagonists now, hell the box art makes it appear as though Chris and a werewolf (or lycans as they are called here) might be one and the same. When the massive werewolf rocked up with his hammer I was under the impression that was Chris and part of our mission would be to free him from whatever it is that has transformed him. An interesting idea I thought. But no, it turns out that Chris is actually a good guy all along, and is in the village trying to stop the Lord’s Leader Mother Miranda from in acting her diabolical plan. What makes no sense is the fact that he could have explained in two minutes to Ethan exactly what was going on and his actions, but he doesn’t. He perplexingly keeps warning Ethan to stay out of it as it is not his business but the guy’s baby daughter has been kidnapped and Ethan is a guy that has already killed two of the four Lords when Chris next encounters him. It is a ridiculous plot device that was obviously trying to create a hook to draw you in but made no attempt to actually pay it off, or they lacked the balls to do it. You play as Chris for a while and his bit is basically Call of Duty: Lycans as he mows his way through them like they are nothing, which again makes you wonder what the hell Chris and his team were doing whilst Ethan was running around do their job for them. There is also a very annoying boss battle in which you must use a targeted missile strike to take down a boss with the guy controlling the rockets taking his sweet time to reload and nagging you if you try to target too soon. You’d think he’d get a hustle on considering the immense and pissed off creature Chris is faced with but apparently not, he won’t be rushed meaning you have to run circles round the boss like it is a merry-go-round. As a side point Chris’ voice actor was also the same as the guy who voice Carlos from the RE3 Remake, and no attempt is even made to hide his voice, so why not just have Carlos coming back??
Mia, Ethan’s wife and his reason for going to the Baker estate in RE7, is barely mentioned, she is assumed dead. Therefore a key character if not the most significant character in the previous game is brushed to the side with no one being particularly bothered.
Okay, now I am going into full on spoilers so...
We learn that the crone Ethan discovers, and Mother Miranda are one and the same. We also discovered that the Mia that Chris shot was Mother Miranda in disguise. What is not made especially clear is exactly how long was Miranda was impersonating Mia. The suggestion is 4 days, but it could have been much longer. Had she been there long enough for her and Ethan to have had sex? If Ethan’s baby was the key to her plan couldn’t she have gotten pregnant by Ethan herself then disappeared leaving no one any the wiser? If she was intending to kidnap Rose then why did she not just wait till Ethan was asleep and disappear into the night? Why was she pissing about at the beginning of the game? It makes no sense and just creates massive plot holes and bizarre character motivations that the game does not bother to explain.
Similarly to RE3 Remake you unlock Completion Points which allow you access a Bonus shop accessed from the main menu after you have beaten the game once. You get these points by completing various objectives (a lot of which are also game trophies) and can use them to unlock new and better weapons. There is a merchant character named Duke who buys and sells you various things throughout the game. He can also upgrade your weapons for the game’s currency Lei. The Bonus Shop allows you to buy unlimited ammo for individual weapons but only after you have fully upgraded them at Duke’s shop (which I initially did not know). There are a couple of assault rifles in the game but you must unlock the unlimited ammo for each weapon separately rather than unlimited ammo for assault rifles in general. I am assuming this was only done to expand the life of the game because similarly to RE3 I was not that impressed with Village. It was not what I wanted from a sequel to the excellent Resident Evil 7, now that being said I did play through it a total of three times, because the Completion Point system is exactly the kind of thing that keeps me playing. It presents challenges that are not particularly hard which I can usually do in a subsequent playthrough, as a result that is exactly what I do. I’d fully upgraded a powerful shotgun in my first game so unlocked the unlimited ammo for it for my second run with that becoming my main weapon whilst I worked to upgrade an assault rifle I wanted. By the time I had done that I was at least two thirds of the way through. Each boss had a beat them in the time limit challenge. So on my second go I dropped the difficulty down, and blitzed those. There was one in which you had to kill 30 enemies in the opening lycan attack, did that too. So it went on. Challenges that require some effort but are not that hard I can be bothered to do which is what kept bringing me back to the game.
One of the problems is that there is a challenge that revolves around finishing the game in under 3 hours, and even taking the time to gather resources and still explore, my third playthrough clocked in at a little over 4. The Doll House sequence, the best thing in the game, can be done in less than 15 minutes. I know because I did it. Repetition is the only reason that the game has a decent length and whilst I did play it over and over, it was just not as good as RE7.
When it gets right down to it, I have played better Resident Evil games, and I have played worse Resident Evil games. RE3 Remake was fun enough in subsequent playthroughs. RE Village got way easier with better weapons but after RE7 you unlocked a powerful pistol that did rip through enemies, but it could only carry 3 bullets, so yes it made another playthrough a bit easier but not by much so the effectiveness of the setting, and the Bakers did not lose their teeth. Even enemies like Mr X from RE2 was still a threat after you’d unlocked better weapons, the Nemesis could be smacked down but he would get back up and keep coming after you. Resident Evil Village’s enemies are ironically completely toothless which is saying something considering you face off against what are for all intent and purposes vampires and werewolves because defeating them is so easy, and this is even before you unlock bigger and better weapons.
I was going to give the game a Thumbs Up but sadly it is only okay, is has flashes of being amazing, but Capcom has pulled it away from what made the previous game so good. It is not scary, the enemies are not interesting, the Lords come and go with barely any ceremony, and all of the plot points could have been explained in the first five minutes. I gave RE3 Remake a Thumbs Up because running around in subsequent playthroughs turning once difficult enemies into mush was fun, and it fitted the more action theme that game was going for. But as a direct sequel to RE7, Resident Evil Village is not as good as it could have been. If the person who created the Doll House had complete control over the whole game it would have been amazing, as it is the game is just average.
6/10 – The game was okay, it was alright, it passed the time...none of these are good terms to a game that people could have been saying it was amazing, it was terrifying, it was scarier than Resident Evil 7. I like action games, I like horror games, I didn’t like games that try to be both because you can guarantee you don’t get the best of both worlds, you get the worst.