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I prefer to review series critically only after I’ve had time to look back upon it retrospectively. I like to have time time to play the game more than once, and let myself really sink into the core narratives and confines of the game as a whole.
Resident Evil Village is too new, and I’ve only played and beaten it once with plenty of dying and screwing up to say that yes, it is certainly a Resident Evil title in that way at least. Actually that’s probably the only way.
Anyway, this isn’t a review. It isn’t meant to be one. These are just some initial thoughts about the game, and my overall enjoyment of it.
I don’t know if I could call this game a masterpiece, but what I will say is that Resident Evil Village pushes boundaries I never thought it would. So, let’s dive into my thoughts, because god knows I have a lot of them.
This is mostly spoiler free. Nothing big will be discussed. Although I do briefly touch on a few things, you won’t be getting any deep details, so don’t worry about massive plot being spoiled here, you won’t be.
A Thoughtful, Captivating Opening.
Most Resident Evil titles don’t captivate me right out of the release gate anymore. Mostly, that’s because the series is too old to really give me a halfway decent bone to chew on. Usually I have to wait to I sink onto the meat of the game properly before I’m surprised by an opening.
This one did surprise me, and not just because it actually had a halfway decent recap of the events in Resident Evil 7. Though, because it was decent, there’s merit in that too. It told the Resident Evil 7 plot without getting too deep. It was easy to digest and simple to consume. It does strictly as it needs to, and nothing more.
Now, you’d expect that after this you’d dive into gameplay, but that isn’t what happened. What we’re greeted with instead is the truly astonishing part. Something that made me take two steps back. It was simple, but for the narrative it was compelling.
We got to listen to rather grim a fairy tale…
Typically, you only see things like this used in puzzles in the Resident Evil series. Survival horror as a genre likes to take fantasy elements use them to craft clues for puzzles or use them as incredibly vague item or enemy metaphor. Yet, we rarely get to see elements like this used as part of character development, or as a taste for a larger metaphorical narrative.
Fantastical music boxes, nods to classic novels, and other such tropes are usually only puzzles only. So it was super nice to see them pulling that key aspect into something greater than making a character merely interact with it. Instead of just getting some sort of key or clue, we get a greater poetic narrative of the game at large.
This opening primes the player, and through my entire play-through I was searching for those metaphorical hints that the opening provided. All-in-all it was a solid opening, and a great creative addition that deserves praise.
On Horror: Lacking/Poorly Managed At Times…
There are times it certainly looks like a classic Resident Evil game. However, it’s not even close.
The game took me about eleven hours to beat since I was taking my time, and occasionally dying. One thing that became noticeable to me at about half an hour into the game was I hadn’t received any meaningful tension to make me feel scared.
Sorry, spooky sounds and jump scares just don’t cut it. Around that time I was wandering around this spooky, snow covered forest filled with dead birds (one of them acting as a cheap jump scare), and subsequently the cabin in the aftermath that creaked and groaned but provided no real payoff.
Continuing to play the game, through more snow covered woods and several more homes (with plenty more mangled and dead animals to go rounds). It was a decent bit after that when I finally picked up my first knife and things actually became interesting.
All of this is to say that the game does have some very good horror elements, but sadly it also fails to manage them correctly at times. This leads to somewhat boring gameplay during certain stretches of time. Considering that many of the areas of the game feel like something out of the original mansion, I do take issue with that.
It just reminds me of how good horror can truly inspire fear, and how this game just can’t cut it in that regard.
Also, the gore itself was just occasionally hard to believe or immerse myself into. It was nearly bombastic at times, but the gratuitousness lacked reason or subtly.
Again, this would not have been an issue, if I had not been so thoroughly reminded of what subtle build-up can provide. That is an ongoing issue of this game. It reminds you of older titles, but never in a way that satisfies.
This style is particularly true early on, when some things weren’t explained yet. There is only one very noteworthy section of the game that is absolutely horrifying, but the rest of it is truly hit and miss for me.
Enemies: What The Hell?
No, seriously, what in the actual hell were the development staff thinking on this one? This goes back into what I was saying before about poor management of horror. The dude in this image, he is a miss.
Listen, I don’t mind when enemies get smarter and faster than your typical zombies. Chainsaw dude from Resident Evil 4 is without a doubt the kind of enemy that will make you crap yourself if you don’t know what to expect. However, when enemies that are half yeti, half zombie roar at me, I feel a distinct lack of chills, and a clear amount of agitation instead.
Come on, seriously? I wasn’t exacting this to be your typical Resident Evil game, but some of these enemy types are flat out stupid. They don’t scare me, they just make me wonder one simple question: what the hell? This goes back into what I was saying before about poor management of horror.
Unintentional Humor (Hands have never been so funny).
No image here, because I don’t want to take away from that moment. I have only one word for you….
That moment, which I won’t go into detail about, is the one genuinely funny thing is this game, far better than the likes of “Jill Sandwich” and other such campy dialogue, simply because it was not supposed to be funny.
Even so, I legitimately laughed out loud. Considering this has become something of an in-joke among players who know what I’m talking about, I have a feeling this moment will stand the test of time.
Looks Nice, Plays Decently…
I don’t want to show you too many enemies, because again this is mostly spoiler free, but look at this hallway. This isn’t even one of the more stunning moments in gameplay, I’m just running away a villain that’s behind me. I just wanted this image to prove a point. Let’s face it the only ugly things in this game, are the ones meant to be ugly.
Unless you’re super focused on everything looking absolutely sunning no matter what, you’ll have no problems here. Everything looks good (some wonky enemy designs aside), and it feels good to play Resident Evil Village.
I will say that I believe there are too many “chase” moments. I don’t understand why people can dislike Mr. X or Nemesis, and yet they enjoy running away from these constantly circling abominations. The sisters are a particular pain in the butt as a whole in my opinion. They’re just not needed. We already had one very compelling villain willing to chase you. Did we really need three cronies too?
It’s like out of a really bad anime, and don’t even get me started on the fact the woman in question might as well be Lust from FMA. Actually, that’s an insult to Lust, because I don’t care how well loved she is, I take extreme issue with Lady Dimitrescu, the reasons why will be details in her own separate post, because she is entirely offensive.
There are times aiming can be clunky, and first person view is the absolute last camera I want to be using, but those gripes aside, it’s a solid player experience. I wouldn’t say that it’s the best experience out there. Then again, it’s by far not the worst thing I’ve played either.
First person view is a major gripe for me, though. I just don’t like that style, and it’s becoming more common in horror games. Still, if they wanted to make more first person horror, why not revive the Resident Evil: Survivor series, or something? Remake those games and then add onto them, why not do that?
Why does it need to be in a main series title twice in a row? I suppose ultimately that is what I’m asking. Then again, you could argue Resident Evil 7 set the precedent, and that’s fine I suppose. To me though, it just comes down to personal preference.
Resident Evil 2‘s remake proved that you do not need first person camera angles to make a good Resident Evil game. Anyway, this first person camera thing, it’s just not my style. At least, not for Resident Evil, or horror in general. It pulls me out of the experience more times than not.
Not My Resident Evil…
Honestly, the game is good, it is very fun to play, but it just isn’t a typical Resident Evil title. It doesn’t feel like one, it doesn’t really play like one. Although I did enjoy the game, I won’t be praising it as heavily as I would other games.
The games looses brownie points for me because if you call it “Resident Evil” I expect to feel like I’m playing a “Resident Evil game”. I don’t think that’s unfair to expect.
I feel like this the game you’d get when you let BloodRayne have a very confused orgy with Resident Evil 4 and Outlast, without anyone knowing who the father really is. Aw hell, let’s just throw in uncle Silent Hill and aunt Clock Tower for good measure. See what I’m getting at? The identity of this game is hard to pin down, and it looses a great deal of charm that I’ve come to expect from the Resident Evil series because of that. I’ll explain more about that when I do a review properly.
The enemies don’t feel like something out of a typical Resident Evil game. Rather, it felt more surrealist in scope, or particularly high fantasy horror. Think something along the lines of Alice: Madness Returns. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, there is a time and place for those things. It doesn’t feel like Resident Evil when you include those fantasy elements to the degree Capcom did.
Again, that doesn’t make it a bad game. I just thought they would balance the setting and horror vibes more carefully, that’s all.
A lot of people compare this title to Resident Evil 4, but you know, I just don’t feel like that’s a fitting comparison either. Resident Evil 4 was certainly action packed, but it had a lot of truly creepy moments. This game doesn’t have that same creepy factor that I know and love.
You can’t really compare this to Resident Evil 7 either, because that game was super dark thematically. Way more than previous titles in the franchise. It was gritty, it was grotesque, and it was unapologetic. It glorified being disturbing to general sensibilities. Emotional abuse and mistreatment of the family dynamic runs rampant. Those qualities really upset some people, but at least Resident Evil 7 knew what it was. I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the lines it dared to cross, but at least I can respect it for understanding what it was trying to do.
To me, Resident Evil Village really jumped the shark. It’s not a scary game most of the time. When I play a horror game, I want to be freaked out, or at least mildly unsettled.
Resident Evil Village offered a thematically confusing, high octane experience. I really don’t care for that to such a large degree.
Now, there were moments that were actually unsettling or terrifying, but they were lightning in a bottle moments. They were not commonplace as I would have liked. I so rarely experienced the sort of tension required to be unsettled in the first place.
I wish I could say I loved this thing from start to finish, but I just don’t. It’s a good game, but for a Resident Evil title, it has earned itself a place in my mind of one of the worst in the franchise that I have ever played on the first run-through.
That being said, I felt the same about Resident Evil: Code Veronica and Resident Evil 5 at one point in my life, and they eventually grew on me.
If I pretend it isn’t a Resident Evil title, or at the very least pretend it is a spin-off, then the game is really damn good. Unfortunately, it’s hard to do that. You need a lot of the Resident Evil 7 backstory to even care about what happens to be going on. So let that ideology speak for itself.
This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are part for the course. I’ll see you next time. Be sure to join our other profiles for more great content.
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