Caution: Biohazardous Material
For some, Resident Evil is a terrifying and challenging experience not taken lightly; for me, it’s a warm blanket of nostalgia and safety I can wrap myself up in and let the day (or days) pass by. With the release of the incredible Resident Evil 7, my fondness for everything Resident Evil has mutated into something otherworldly—not unlike one of Umbrella’s dastardly bioweapons—and with Resident Evil Village reanimating onto our consoles, my infection was set to mutate further.
Like Resident Evil 7, Village follows the misfortune and torment of Ethan Winters. This time, he’s thrust into chaos as a cryptic Chris Redfield shows up and flips Ethan’s quiet life upside down by capping Mia in the face several times (come on, Chris, exercise some restraint). To add insult to a shocking betrayal, Rose—Ethan and Mia’s daughter—is kidnapped and possibly being held in a nearby isolated Village. What mysteries and, more importantly, what villains lie in wait for Ethan in this Village? Okay, we all saw the promotional material; we know it’s a tall vampire lady with two significant assets, but what or who else is waiting?.
Fair warning, I will be referring to Resident Evil Village by its full name, as Village, or simply as RE8 (or a variation of all).
Resident Evil Village Platinum Review
A Village of Shadows
Resident Evil Village retains much of the previous installments’ gameplay and mechanics. The odds are stacked pretty high, and, like any suitable media, the goal to success is long, arduous, and littered with mutated freaks that don’t go down as quickly as you’d want. To ensure Ethan has the best chances of surviving the hellish village and the nasty beasts lurking there, he will have to scavenge for resources. Of course, these valuable, life-saving resources aren’t so readily available, and locks even guard some; if only there were a “Master of Unlocking” around here. Thankfully, there are lockpicks to be found and used in Village.
Though sparse, the resources are dished out somewhat fairly. This trickle of resources creates a satisfying gameplay loop on more serious difficulties as you fumble through the darkness looking for anything to tip the subsequent combat encounters in your favor. Aside from the usual resources such as Ammo, Health items, and Weapon Upgrades, Village also offers resources for crafting that can be a godsend when you’re running low on ammo or health items before or after an encounter. However, these too are sparse enough that you’re never overly prepared.
Making a return are the countless files—they can be counted, and I did; there are 47—that reveal small bitesize insights into the story and lore of Village. Small shootable statues are also back, though this time, they are Goats of Warding, which are arguably harder to spot as their wooden material blends in the depressing color palette of RE8. New to Resident Evil—or as far as I remember—are treasures. Hidden throughout the village and the 4 Lords’ domains are valuable treasures that Ethan can sell for Lei (Romanian currency). Some treasures come in parts and have to be combined before you sell them to maximize profit.
Searching for these treasures was entertaining, and each one fit the lore of Village perfectly. Since my first playthrough was dedicated to finding every collectible, I relished the chance to hunt a treasure down as soon as one became available. In typical Resident Evil fashion, most of the treasures are locked behind doors or blocked off and required a specific item to open the way. Finding the right key or item felt like a treasure hunt all by itself, even though they’re given automatically for story reasons. Still, any chance to explore the village is worth taking.
Exploring the recently and forcibly abandoned village is pure joy. Capcom has put a lot of effort into making this quaint isolated village look newly distressed. Every house tells a story from more subtle cues like a significant slash mark on a doorway left by something large and terrifying to the more apparent notes or corpses that tell the story of a struggle that a poor villager lost.
Though the standout location in Resident Evil Village is, without any doubt, Castle Dimitrescu (the proper Romanian pronunciation is dimi-tres-ku, even though they say domi-tresk in-game). This imposing castle sits high in the mountains so that it can overlook the shattered village below. It’s the first landmark Ethan spots when entering the village, and it’s never out of sight for too long, which plants an unsettling terror deep in your mind. Inside, the terror only magnifies. Ornate furnishings and trimmings hanging from the walls give way to decaying and cold stone as the passages twist and turn throughout the castle.
All daunting castles need a charismatic, if somewhat evil, villain that stalks the halls, and Castle Dimitrescu has one of the best. I’m, of course, talking about our lofty Mommy Dimitrescu.
Enticing Characters & Monstrous Enemies
Capcom was wise to put Lady Dimitrescu at the forefront of all Resident Evil Village’s promotional material. Standing at a striking 9’6″, this well-stacked woman instantly ensnared the hearts and minds of gamers all over the internet. Discussions cropped up about who or what she could be, and when Capcom revealed her official height, fans were amused and astonished to find she towered over even Nemesis, Capcom’s previous reigning tall boy.
Indeed, Lady Dimitrescu is the most captivating villain in Resident Evil Village, and having her chase you through the castle was thrilling in a way only Resident Evil games can pull off. Though our time with her is short as soon enough, Ethan finds himself back outside with the daunting task of facing the other four Lords that rule the village.
Each of the four Lords have something that Ethan needs, and with the help of Duke (a charming and loveable merchant), he travels to each of the Lords’ domains to overcome their challenges and eventually pry this key item from their hands. Donna Beneviento is the next Lord on Ethan’s list and her domain is deceptively void of enemies. In fact, Ethan brazenly walks through her region and enters her family home without seeing a single enemy.
Capcom seems to have had fun with their formula as suddenly Resident Evil Village turns into one of those “Escape the Room” type games that you see so often while browsing the app store on your phone. Ethan must inspect a life-size dummy of his wife on a table and use whatever key items he finds to escape the room he’s become trapped in. The mood shifts again once escape is within grasp as a grotesque fetus appears and gives chase. The stakes have shifted once again as now Ethan is threatened with death.
I won’t divulge much more as the game hasn’t been out for very long, and the story’s strength shines when you experience it for yourself. I will say that Heisenberg, while a fantastic villain in his own right, has possibly the most protracted section of the story. Suddenly the crushing gothic vibes are brushed aside to favor a factory setting filled with enemies merged with machines. The change feels refreshing at first, but soon the corridors and rooms begin to melt together as everything looks the same.
What I can talk about are the regular enemies Ethan must mow down between these sections. The most marketed enemy is the Lycan. These enemies are a joy to fight as they duck and weave around your shots, making you curse yourself for panicking and wasting ammo. You can’t run around them and rush to your objective like you could the zombies in previous installments. Instead, the Lycans will—forgive the pun—hound you until you turn to face them or risk getting attacked from behind.
Castle Dimitrescu features a slightly different kind of enemy as the poor maidens taken to the dungeons to have their blood siphoned to make the giant Lady’s wine become Moroaica, a sort of mindless zombie. While easy to defeat, they can lurk in shadowy corners until the moment you walk by so they can jump out at you and make you require a change of pants. Unfortunately, like Lady Dimitrescu, Donna Beneviento’s portion of the game is too short. I would have liked to spend some more time there learning about the house’s Lord.
That’s all I’m willing to discuss about the story. If you’re a fan of Resident Evil or dark gothic storytelling then Resident Evil Village is worth experiencing for yourself.
Try and Try Again
It wouldn’t be a Resident Evil Platinum Journey without repeat playthroughs and Village’s repeat playthroughs are both challenging and exciting.
Replaying Village but being limited to using only the knife is interesting. Instead of entering a combat encounter and trying your hardest to keep everything at a distance, you now have to get uncomfortably close to do damage. This limitation means that you absolutely can’t be overcrowded and have to rely on more imaginative ways to solve encounters. And if you bundle in the less than 3 hours speedrun into the equation, you have to come up with those creative ways and put them into practice almost instantly.
Similarly, the No Health Item runs and Spend Less Than 10,000 Lei challenges require different approaches to some scenarios, though the difficulty can be avoided entirely by spending CP (Completion Points) in the Bonus shop on Infinite Ammo for the GM 79 Grenade Launcher to destroy enemies wholesale.
The hardest playthrough in the Platinum Journey, is without any doubt the Village of Shadows difficulty playthrough. Enemies require more damage to put down and in turn deal more damage to Ethan. Suddenly, guarding is virtually useless as the damage soaks through like water in a sieve. Now, more than ever, avoidance is the most important tool at your disposal and to use it efficiently, you must have intimate knowledge of the game and where each nasty beast is lurking.
The less said about the final boss on Village of Shadows difficulty the better. It’s a gruelling task that will make you question your sanity.
I never really played Resident Evil 4, so I haven’t had the chance to play a Mercenaries mode in Resident Evil (I’m aware that RE3 had a Mercenaries mode, but as a kid, I was more interested in the main story), so I was excited to give it a go in RE Village. To my surprise, it ended up being a bit too arcade for my taste, though I did eventually start to enjoy it with each repeated play through a stage. As fast as that joy came, it was so cold-heartedly taken away from me as the second half of the stages upped the ante most unfairly.
You being inside Duke’s merchant room in Castle Dimitrescu. You have to prepare for the stage by buying a weapon from a small selection, upgrading them, and buying whatever health or defensive items you can afford. Then once you enter the stage, you have to kill enemies to rack up a combo and finish with the highest score you can manage.
Stages 1 through 4 were frustrating at first, but you start to get a sense of where the enemies spawn and what weapons are the best to use when repeated. The Sniper Rifle was ludicrously handy in these stages, except for stage 4, where I opted to go with the shotgun as it did the most damage to the boss at the end of the stage. Healing items were pretty much useless at this point as I never let anything get close enough to try to damage me.
Stages 5 through 8 is where I started to feel like I was ready to leave Village behind. The enemies are given damage buffs. Duke’s selection of weapons changes from the practical Shotgun and Sniper Rifle to the not so helpful Grenade Launcher and the valuable but limited Wolfsbane revolver. To top it off, Stage 7 had more enemies than available ammo.
I resorted to instantly upgraded the default LEMI handgun as much as I could at the start of each round and hoping my DPS was high enough that I could clutch a victory. This strategy primarily worked until Stage 7. I played this stage over several times and couldn’t find enough ammo to kill every single enemy, so I just racked up a combo as high as I could and raced to the finish to bank my score.
As much as my patience was being tested in the final part of The Mercenaries mode, I enjoyed every second of my time with Resident Evil Village and can’t wait to jump into the PS4 version to re-platinum it all over again. Though, I might put off The Mercenaries mode for a while.
No Shop & No Heal Run
Knife Only and Speedrun
Village of Shadows Playthrough
Resident Evil Village Trophy Guide
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