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Resident Evil Village: More Fun Than You Can Shake a Severed Hand At

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The continuing adventures of Ethan Winters, unluckiest man on Earth.

I remember when they surprise-dropped the first trailer for Resident Evil Village a couple of years ago, I didn’t even parse it as a Resident Evil game at first. It just looked like a typical spooky adventure set in some manner of haunted village, so you can imagine my surprise when the letters in “Village” lit up at the end to show a “VIII.” I wasn’t really sure how we could go from moldy swamp people to a rural European village with a proper sense of consistency, but by Jove, they found a way.

Resident Evil Village is set three years after the events of Resident Evil VII: Biohazard. Ethan Winters and his wife Mia have been relocated to a new home in Europe (don’t ask where), where they have every intention of living a happy life with their new daughter, Rose. Unfortunately, Mia is gunned down by Ethan’s former ally, Chris Redfield, and he and Rose are taken away. Ethan wakes up in a remote village ruled over by a group of monstrous lords, with an army of bloodthirsty lycans terrorizing the populace. It’s once again up to Ethan to track down his loved ones and uncover the mystery of this accursed place.

Let’s get this out of the way: if you’re hoping for a scary, atmospheric game more in line with Resident Evil VII, you’re not gonna get that here for the most part. Barring a couple of deliberately horror-focused setpieces, Village is focused more on large-scale confrontations and action gunplay. While the subtlety is out the window, it’s still plenty of fun in an action-schlock kind of way, not unlike Resident Evil 4. In fact, this game could be considered a marriage of sensibilities between VII and 4.

The general game flow is more in line with VII, with a first-person view, larger, open-planned maps you can freely explore, and some simple crafting mechanics. From 4, though, we’ve got a lot of the aesthetic, from grimy villages to massive, gothic castles and rusty factories. There’s also an economy in the village, with killed monsters dropping money and treasure that can be exchanged with the local merchant, known simply as The Duke, for guns, supplies, and upgrades. If I had a complaint, it’s that some of the later parts of the game don’t quite reach the highs that it establishes early on. The infamous Lady Dimitrescu, whom the internet has been fawning over ever since her reveal, is only present for the first few hours of the game, and for the most part, the other three lords don’t really live up to her standards.

Some of the enemies are a little bullet-spongy at first, but as you progress and get bigger and better guns, it actually becomes a little too easy on the normal difficulty. Of course, in my playthrough, I was fairly thorough in looking for treasure and secrets, so maybe I just had enough cash on hand to buy whatever I needed. If you run straight to each major gameplay area, perhaps it would be more difficult. Village is also a somewhat short game; if you don’t pay much mind to collectibles, you could probably clear the whole story in around 8 hours. However, there are lots of unlockable secrets that encourage repeat playthroughs, again much like VII and 4.

If you’re a stickler for scary atmosphere, you may be a little disappointed by Village. But what it lacks in scary, it makes up for in being startling, gross, and in some spots, silly. It’s a great shooter with some cool setpieces and memorable characters, so as long as you approach it with some flexibility, there’s plenty of fun to be had.