This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
Resident Evil Village Review
The latest in Capcom's horror series cranks up the action to 11 at the expense of everything else.
The Resident Evil series has been on the upswing these past few years, and that’s largely thanks to the fantastic Resident Evil 7 kicking off the newest era of the franchise. Resident Evil 7 was slow and methodical, harkening back to the very first game in the series. Since then, we’ve had two remakes of classic Resident Evil titles, and it’s clear that Capcom has a lot of fresh new ideas for the series and knows what fans want from it. That’s why it’s safe to say there’s a lot of hype surrounding Resident Evil Village, the eighth mainline entry in the series and the direct follow-up to Resident Evil 7. Unfortunately, Village doesn’t hit the highs of its predecessor, but it’s still a fantastic survival horror game in its own right.
Although it’s a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7, Resident Evil Village feels incredibly different from its predecessor. The game has a much faster pace, which is immediately noticeable from the game’s opening section. Bullets fly, monsters attack, and fires rage, all within the game’s opening hour. Even the quieter moments of puzzle solving or exploration are cut short by explosive set pieces and chase sequences. Village is much more of an action game than Resident Evil 7, which is understandable given that this game takes clear inspiration from Resident Evil 4. It takes the first-person perspective of Resident Evil 7 and gives it a shot of adrenaline in the arm, to mixed results. Resident Evil Village is a thrilling rollercoaster, but it’s a pretty uneven ride.
Resident Evil 7 saw players spending most of their time hiding from the Baker family, avoiding combat when necessary for the most part until the game’s halfway mark. Resident Evil Village gives you a gun with plenty of ammo and pits you against a seemingly endless wave of enemies within the first hour. Because of the game’s greater emphasis on action, there’s a lot more that you can do in combat encounters. Arenas are wide open and feature several twisting pathways through houses and over fences. You can block windows and doors to cut off entrances for the enemies while also simultaneously blocking one of your own potential exits. Ammo can be crafted as long as you have the resources, and you can shoot environmental objects like explosive containers or bags of flour to kill or interrupt your pursuers.
Fights feel multilayered, and while the enemy AI is pretty dumb and basically only lumbers directly toward you, you constantly feel under pressure during combat encounters due to their overwhelming numbers. You’ll usually have enough ammo to take on a crowd, but the game does a great job of making sure you never have enough to feel comfortable after every fight. You don’t just have to run into houses and buildings to escape from your enemies and catch your breath, but also to scrounge for much-needed ammo and crafting materials so you can reload your shotgun or make a first aid med. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the game’s boss fights. In a series that has had some pretty insane boss battles, it’s a shame that Village’s boss encounters are so lame. The spectacle is there for most of the fights, but none of them are particularly engaging when it comes to mechanics.
The game makes a great first impression, but things take a downturn in the second half. Everything Capcom has shown in prerelease marketing, from Lady Dimitrescu to those mysterious scenes with Chris Redfield, is only from the first three hours or so of the game. Those are also incidentally the best parts of the game. Castle Dimitrescu is easily the game’s best location, and while the other places you explore are still sort of interesting, the game starts to fall flat once you reach the halfway mark. Repetition sets in and you start to feel like you’re just going through the motions. That’s not to say Resident Evil Village isn’t entertaining throughout; the gunplay remains satisfying and the loop of scavenging for supplies and solving puzzles remains engaging until the credits roll. It just feels like the game is frontloaded with good ideas.
As per usual with the RE Engine, Resident Evil Village’s presentation is simply stellar. Its environments are true next-gen graphical showpieces, largely thanks to the ray-traced lighting. Outdoor areas look great, but Village’s lighting and shadows shine indoors. The ornate halls of Castle Dimitrescu are hauntingly beautiful, and I stopped more than once to admire the scenery as long as I wasn’t being hunted by one of the game’s big bads. Houses are littered with clutter and debris, dungeons are filled with torture equipment and sinister tools, and the weather is constantly moody and overcast. The game is an absolute treat to look at, especially with HDR enabled. The same can be said for the audio quality, an immensely important aspect for a horror game. Just like its predecessor, Resident Evil Village sounds amazing with a decent pair of headphones, and hearing Lycans scrambling around inside buildings or hiding in fields while you’re scrounging for ammo does wonders to heighten the tension.
Unfortunately, that level of graphical fidelity comes at a cost. On PlayStation 5, the game targets 60 frames per second with ray tracing enabled. It hits that for the most part, but there are certain areas where there are very noticeable dips. Prior to release, Capcom stated that players should expect 45 FPS with ray-tracing enabled, and now it’s clear why. It’s not that the game runs poorly with ray-tracing turned on, but you can feel it chugging a little bit during some combat encounters. Sometimes, the dips happen in empty rooms like the grand hall of Castle Dimitrescu. Certain rooms and areas are just a bit too much for the system to handle, which is unfortunate. You can achieve a rock-solid 60 FPS by disabling ray-tracing, but this is a game where the technology adds a significant amount to the game’s overall mood and visual style.
Overall, Resident Evil Village is a great survival horror game that leans into the action and silliness of earlier entries in the series to mixed results. It’s not as good as Resident Evil 7, and it’s not as good as Resident Evil 4. It feels like a strange mixture of the two, and while it seems like it might be able to strike a good balance in its first half, the second half dashes any hope of that. It’s still a beautiful game with its fair share of scares, but it doesn’t really feel like a true next step forward for the franchise.
- This article was updated on:May 7th, 2021
Resident Evil Village
- Score: 4 / 5
- Available On: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Google Stadia
- Published By: Capcom
- Developed By: Capcom
- Genre: Survival Horror
- US Release Date: May 7, 2021
- Reviewed On: PS5
- Quote: "Resident Evil Village is a great survival horror game that leans into the action and silliness of earlier entries in the series to mixed results. It's not as good as Resident Evil 7, and it's not as good as Resident Evil 4. It feels like a strange mixture of the two, and while it seems like it might be able to strike a good balance in its first half, the second half dashes any hope of that."