A Caucasian man's face is covered in shadow, his portrait overlaying the word, "VILLAGE", in loud letters behind him.
May 24, 2021 | by Solon
Resident Evil Village: The Full Review
Nails The Hand-off
Summary: Just because the world lacks some charm after House Dimitrescu doesn't stop Resident Evil Village from being a fun and easy blockbuster ride all the way through. The game is so frictionless mechanically and narratively, it practically plays itself!

4

Great (GR8️⃣)


There’s a time and a place where you just want to turn your brain off for ten hours and enjoy a wacky and deeply stupid game. While we’re this deep into a global pandemic right before summer hits, there couldn’t be a more perfect time to start a game about a worldwide viral conspiracy, Romanian werewolves, simping for the huge titty Internet goth lady, and rubbing your body against a strangers’ cabinets to find their loose gunpowder for ten hours straight. You know, just indulging in the pandemic lifestyle’s greatest hits.

For the most part, Resident Evil Village is a perfect ‘no thoughts, head empty’ type of experience, and I’ve been assured by fans of the series that ‘not thinking’ is a hallmark quality of Capcom’s premiere franchise. By the end of the ride, I’d say it was a worthwhile journey through all of its highs and lows, but what kind of theme park ride is this? Is this ride an evergreen Disneyland ride that stays with you in your mind for years to come, or is it a county fair steel concussion factory of sadness and pain that, god willing, you won’t remember? Let’s find out.

Ethan “Wife Guy” Winters just wants to live a happy, average, ordinary life with his average, ordinary family in an average, ordinary suburb of Romania. However, life has other plans when grizzled Resident Evil veteran Chris “Beef Blastbody” Redfield opens fire on his wife, Mia “Wine Gal” Winters, and whisks the wife guy, the wine gal, and their whine baby away to a remote village. Now, Ethan is looking for his daughter who has been pickled and jellied into Mason Jars by the local Catholics. It looks like it’s gonna be another long day for Ethan “Knife Guy” Winters. Can they ever be a family together? Even after all this? Find out in this rip-rollicking, werewolf filled adventure, Resident Evil 8: Some Lycan It White Hot! Mama Mia, Here We Go Again!

So I’ve said this game is stupid, but I don’t want that to come off as derogatory, because I mean it in an entirely endearing way. Our protagonist Ethan is dead set on finding his daughter, so much so that when he finds out his daughter’s essence has been placed into tiny jars, his sole mission turns into collecting four daughter-jars and then blindly entrusting his pectin daughter to some kind of de-jelly machine in the center of town. That kind of devotion is admirable, and Ethan’s quirky imbecilic nature leads to beautiful moments like him casually reattaching limbs to his body and thinking that’s a normal thing people do. And why should Ethan Winters think otherwise? The world around him is full of people making bad plans and executing on them poorly! His friend just killed his wife and didn’t explain why before accidentally abandoning him in a weirdo cult town, the last seven villagers in the town are praying to the village matriarch to protect them from a lycan infestation that the village knows she is wholly responsible for, and most importantly the four lords are each planning coups against the matriarch for the sole purpose of taking over this depressing pile of empty homes.

Chris Redfield putting a comical amount of double-ta emphasis into Mia Winters.

So what does Ethan have to lose? Nothing! And that’s what makes it so endearing watching these three stooges fighting over ownership of a haunted house. At one point, our intrepid hero is processing the horrors around him, bangs his mutilated hand against a broken window frame, and dramatically delivers his synopsis of the situation by saying, “Why is this happening … again?” The absurdism of Ethan’s situation and his role within it will never reach him, and this obliviousness only propels him deeper into the mire. Which, to be fair to Ethan, is normal for new fathers.

I’ve described Resident Evil Village as a haunted house or a theme park ride, which many other reviews have been keen to pick up on. This comes from the expressive modality that is on display within RE8 this is the foremost shining pillar to Capcom’s entire design philosophy but it has never been better displayed than here in this game. As the first-person perspective adopted from Resident Evil 7 becomes the container for all combat, cutscenes, and exploration, it blends smoothly with the resource management that has been a key feature of the series. There’s loads of interactive set pieces where you move Ethan through simulated dangers, and then those situations will push you forward towards rooms with active combat scenarios and major boss fights. Finally, after each fight subsides, you’re free to loot, explore, and manage your inventory to prepare for the next encounter. It feels so natural and seamless, which is why most people have found it easy to compare Village to a theme park. Disneyland, the park I know better than any others, is known for their engaging queue lines that build your expectations and hype before transitioning you into their main attractions, and then afterwards you are dumped into a wider area where you are allowed to collect yourself, manage your inventory, and proceed to the next ride in relative peace, where the process can start again.

This game’s got a smooth flow, so much so that the game often subverts those expectations in fun ways. By the time I’d gotten to the midpoint of the game, the village square was entrenched in my mind as the safe home base where I am free to explore the village at my will, grab items as needed from the local houses, do side quests, and go shopping. However, after defeating the third boss, I turn a regular corner that by then I’d turned fifty times and I run straight into a large black shaggy goat, stopping me dead in my tracks. There are two of them actually! Is this a threat? No! That’s meat! That’s free meat! And I get my knife out and start joyously chasing them down like a kid who just got told mom brought ice cream sandwiches home from the store. These smooth transitions between modes allow for subversions to feel fun and fresh every time. However, there were a few times where I was confused on whether a set piece was an active combat scenario and I’d end up blowing ammo and health just to find out a mini-boss was invulnerable and I was supposed to be running away from it.

Lady Dimetrescu's daughter, a woman bearing a very goth-like appearance with insects swirling all around the screen, closing in on Ethan, the protagonist, in Resident Evil Village

This brings me to one of my biggest problems with Resident Evil 8, and that’s within the combat. Specifically, the communication between my weapons and the enemies. Guns have numbers attached to them that say how much damage they do, and you can see this in the shop menu, but your knife doesn’t have any kind of number. Your knife does some trivially low amount of damage to enemies in a way that makes it almost impossible to use, and this is supposed to bring out a lot of the tension between survival and resource management. One of the first encounters of the game is one where you have to ‘survive for an indeterminate amount of time’ in a group of two houses fending off werewolves, and they do not care about your little knife at all. The idea is that you run and hide and barricade doors, but they are so much faster than you, and they just keep on respawning. This would make sense at the end of the game, but not at the beginning when I barely know anything and I’m running around with only a butter knife and an empty pistol. This sucked, but it did teach me an important trick I used for the rest of the game; oftentimes throughout Village you have to choose whether to spend another bullet finishing off an enemy or getting in close with your knife instead to save a bullet for later. This would be cool in concept, except you can also skip all of that and just knife enemies in the back fifty times, saving all of your resources. Is it a pain in the ass? Yes! Does it feel as silly as it looks? Also yes! But look at how many shotgun shells I have now! Combat in this game almost brings together Resident Evil’s trademark styles of tense and slapstick, but most scrub fights end up looking silly and feeling like filler, chase scenes are completely robbed of their drama by how good holding the block button is, and in mini-boss fights it’s really hard to tell if your weapons are effective because there isn’t any communication to the player that shows how much damage you are doing at any given time (or even if your weapons are being effective) which leads to feeling like you’ve wasted your resources and a few frustrating game reloads.

But that’s enough griping for now. Wouldn’t you rather I tell you about the sexiest thing in Resident Evil 8no, it’s not Lady Dimitrescu’s voluptuous ass at face-high level, the Internet’s freaking out about that, I get it, we’ll get to that. No! Let’s talk about cabinetry! The soft curves of a bespoke shelf, finely sanded with the grain, and stained with an oak-y finish, perfect for elevating life’s essentials or perhaps just a single melting candle. The dressers, armoires, and vanities within Resident Evil 8 are so plentiful and diverse throughout this game that you feel like you entered a Pier One Imports. I started to notice early on that there are loads of animations specifically for Ethan opening up different types of drawers and small ornate wooden doors, and after that it became impossible to ignore! Every section of the map is immaculately dressed up with individualized ornamental chotchkies or wooden wall panelings or lace drapings that inform the types of scenarios you are walking into. These backdrops also do a lot of the most thorough legwork that the rest of the game refuses to do by representing the four lords within their regions; setting this game firmly within a Catholic mixer of Romanian, French, Italian, and German styles. The text and dialogue within the game doesn’t support a lot of the cultural weight of the abandoned village that the game is titled after, but a couple decorated shelves single-handedly made up for that. Where Resident Evil 4 had Mexican Spanish-speaking Spaniards, Resident Evil Village has one very nice offering shrine.

A collectible, goat-shapen wood carving, standing on a shrine table flanked by two candles.

The entire village becomes something of a frozen time capsule bridging the 19th and 20th centuries, and each lord brings a different flair to that. Whether it’s Lord Beneviento’s timeless dollhouse with its tacky peeling wallpaper, Heisenberg’s menacing steel factory, or even Lord Moreau’s small tube-television, all of these characterize a world trapped in time in a fascinating way. Whoever is the set designer for this game deserves an award, or at least a beer from me, for going way above and beyond expectations. Even each loading elevator that demarcates the divide between levels is unique in lighting and architectural style. Is it perfect? Not entirely, there is definitely this one framed photo in Ethan’s house that ends up being all over the world, but that is totally understandable and I’d be scared for the devs if there wasn’t plenty of asset reuse. (Maybe this same picture in every house points to Ethan’s degrading mental state?? No. not that. Ethan is a new dad, he has no mental state.) 

As much fun as I’m having talking about important subtleties in design, or offering lenses into analyzing core parts to Resident Evil Village, that isn’t why you are here, is it? You don’t want to hear me pontificate about Ethan as peak dadification, or how each boss of the game represents different fears of new fathers, or how interesting it is that a game is defined by its village but is devoid of all villagers… Well, I can’t hold back anymore either, it is my fullest honor to finally talk to you about:

Lady Alcina Dimitrescu

A tall, well-endowed woman wearing a wide-brimmed hat and long, white gown looks down upon the viewer.

The only character in Resident Evil Village 

(⚠️ Spoilers ahead ⚠️)

Fetishized by the entire Internet before the game’s release, the fervor for her only intensifies throughout playing the game from the moment she shows up. It’s not just that Lady Dimitrescu (Alcina if yr nasty) is tall, a vampire, extremely strong, has exquisite taste in the aforementioned interior decorating, is a caring mother, is passionate about science and the arts, and can slice a cake from a room away, but as someone who was extremely skeptical of folks fetishizing her before the game came out, she is sexy. Lady Dimitrescu has some legitimately interesting sexual tension with Ethan; for better and for worse, she has the most dialogue with other characters, the most personality, the most lore logs written about her, and the most varied interactions directly with you, the player. At one point she strings you up by your extremely penetrable hands and mounts you against her wall, then Dimitrescu makes a pass at you before sucking your blood and declaring you to have turned rotten or moldy. It’s hot, gross, and foreshadowing for some deep lore. Peak Resident Evil while also making a statement loud and strong enough to separate this game from any others in the franchise. A real Maury Povich moment that sets a tone for the rest of the game. 

Lady Dimitrescu’s castle is exquisitely designed in a way that makes for such a wide variety of different spaces while teaching you as much as it can about how to play this game without tutorials. It’s got fancy indoor rooms with parlors and rich person bathrooms, but it’s also got outdoor areas, a subterranean dungeon, secret hidden armories, and a sprawling network of roofs. No part of the building isn’t used at some point! If we’re talking about Evil Residencies, House Dimitrescu is undoubtedly the most efficient and exquisitely designed in the series, especially for teaching you the basics of Resident Evil. The entire design thesis for this franchise is within these walls. By the end of it, you climb to the very top of her house, and Lady Dimitrescu is waiting for you, more beautiful than ever, and you engage her in an incredible boss fight that puts every skill that you’ve learned up to this point to the test, and ultimately combines them for one final learning moment before you are graduated into the rest of the game. It’s incredibly good, even beyond having a sexy lady chasing you, in fact your relationship with this game is enhanced by it in every way. 

Lady Dimitrescu is a perfect blend of fine and fearsome in a way where you feel invited to play around with the mechanics! “How close is too close before she sees me?” “If she hits me will I immediately die?” “Can I block her?” “Will she follow me into the save room?” “Does she hear my footsteps? My gun? My loud as hell constant breathing that we’re stuck with for the rest of the game?” There are other monsters in this game who do not afford you this luxury because they are either way too scary or the game is shotgunning mechanics at you in a way where you don’t get the time or ability to experiment. Lady D’s also the only character (good -or- bad) who clearly explains her goals and her motivations in a way that made sense to me. That Lady Dimitrescu is so hot. In fact, she’s too hot for this game and most of the game’s best themes and writing start to dry up with her death. 

Lady Dimitrescu sitting at a large vanity, applying makeup.

Many players I’ve spoken with were left in a wowed state after finally stepping out of the castle and breathing free. “Where could RE8 possibly go from here?” was a common refrain. However, between the final three houses you have left to investigate to find your otter pop-daughter there’s: the very scary and very small Lord Beneviento’s dollhouse, the sprawling yet linear Lord Moreau’s Gamer Goo-filled Depression Pit where you start to feel like Ethan might be acting like a big ‘ol bully about this whole ‘killing everyone he meets’ thing, and finally Lord Heisenberg’s deep, dank, death factory. Which has a great structural shape for navigating and plenty of interesting spaces inside, but it is still thematically an underlit menacing steel factory—which isn’t the most inspiring setting following Lord Moreau’s underlit caves area. Unfortunately, the large hole that Lady D leaves doesn’t quite get filled. There is one other point at the end of the game that comes close to how awesome Dimitrescu’s Castle is. But the weaknesses of the back half of the game do not invalidate how incredible the entire opening level was, and in a way, watching the game struggle to get back to that point only highlights how amazing that section was. I would replay this game again just for that level, but I probably wouldn’t replay past it.

Now that we’ve gotten Lady D’s tall, shapely frame out of the way, let’s talk about the other spectre that looms over Village. Yes, it’s about time to talk about Resident Evil 4. RE4 has hung heavy over the head of the franchise as its most critical success, and Capcom has been hungry to recapture that magic ever since. So much so, that it’s become a complex for fans and for the company – every game in the Resident Evil series is immediately compared to RE4, and after the previous game was its furthest departure from the formula, it feels like they finally have gotten enough critical distance to understand what the people want. Putting items in a case! Yes! Finally! I love to be rotating inventory! …Okay it’s a little more than that (and honestly the inventory management felt a little hokey and went largely unused during my playthrough.) In fact, they found a truly incredible way to marry RE4’s item upgrading system to the strengths of RE7’s first-person exploration style to make a fully natural feeling upgrade system. Every time I’d find a new gun or upgrade in the world was exciting because it meant I had a new option in my arsenal as well as in the shop, and every upgrade meant I felt a modicum more safe to use my resources. Getting the sniper rifle meant I could use my shotgun more, and getting an automatic pistol meant I was safer to craft handgun bullets, and so on and so forth. 

An example of the inventory screen in Resident Evil Village

A lot of the best upgrades are clearly labeled in golden treasure chests on the map, which makes it extra exciting during moments like, for example, when I finally got the magnum. I had to fight this large wolf to get to it who was an earlier mini-boss, but once I grabbed the magnum another wolf showed up! So, panicked, I fired twice, and it died almost instantly. That’s stopping power, baby. So when I finally got to a shop and examined the stats my new weapon had, I could plainly see: “Oh. That’s why that worked.” and I could start to formulate how it would work within my arsenal, and then spread out my money expenditures based on if I wanted to invest in a specific gun, or multiple guns. If I thought a new gun would be coming up, I could even sell my older guns to pay for upgrades to newer guns. Furthermore, having all of these options worked so well with Village’s loot systems where there were three ways you could easily find more money. You can kill enemies who drop sellable treasure based on the rarity of the enemy, find money inside chests, on the ground, or in the aforementioned furniture, or if things sparkled on the walls you could shoot them and get something that sells for a great amount. This is another mechanic that I was happy to see return from Resident Evil 4! Anytime the money machine would whirr to life, it would make my brain also go brrr… I went on so many shopping sprees that felt impactful throughout playing the game and each one would start setting me up for my next shopping trip immediately! The overlap of these systems inspired by RE4 were the real core game loop that kept me going throughout the more dry parts of the game; it made exploring each room’s nooks and crannies feel important, and even though monsters might take way too long to kill, it always felt worth the effort for collecting their cool crystal skulls and stuff. They freshened a lot of things up from older Resident Evil games that will help them in the future, but there is one relic that should’ve stayed in the past…

(⚠️ Ending spoilers ahead ⚠️)

Ethan’s only ally throughout this adventure is The Duke, a mysterious merchant, whose relationship to you is defined through the services he provides as well as through his reflection of the famous merchant in Resident Evil 4. The Duke is a very warm spot in an otherwise grimdark and serious game. He isn’t as menacing looking as his RE4 counterpart and he cracks wise with pithy one-liners whenever you are around. Now, you do find out that he previously worked business with Lady Dimitrescu, but his first order of business with you is specifically arming you to kill her, so why all the distrust around The Duke? Especially, if you know the famous merchant from RE4 was a major ally within that game? Unfortunately, most of The Duke’s character is defined by him being fat. His body is characterized as hideous and obscene on a level to match the rest of Resident Evil’s freaks. The Duke is nothing like any of the regular townspeople which is a major departure from RE4’s Merchant, who’s suspicious BECAUSE he looks like a regular infected villager. The Duke is always sitting on a raised platform so that you are looking at his stomach spilling out of his clothes, because ‘ewww isn’t that gross and scary?’ It’s not just that The Duke is a fat merchant, which is an incredibly common trope in media (and we love many a large mercantilist) but there are levels of manipulation being written into The Duke that are ultimately insidious.

A large, obese man sits in a cart looking upon and smiling at the the viewer. Behind him, one of the cart's doors is ajar, displaying various items.

The Duke is not fat because he’s endearingly mysterious like Santa Claus, or because he’s spritely and miserly like Morshu. The Duke is fat because they want you to think he’s untrustworthy, or that he’s hiding something. While I was playing through, I wouldn’t sell some of my highest selling goods because I was worried he’d use my sales against me later. He creeped me out, he talked in riddles, and mostly talked about eating food and smacking his lips. The goal of this character is to play off people’s fatphobia, but just because he ends up saving your life in the end does not subvert that in any way, in fact it reinforces it by getting people to try to defend The Duke for being a good guy. It’s not good! The Duke is an extremely likeable character and I appreciate how rare it is in Resident Evil to have a friendly character who actually survives their game, but simply put, fat folks aren’t freaks pretending to hide ulterior motives! Just have fat folks in your media who are normal people, please! Also, if he’s wealthy and connected, then how come he doesn’t have clothes or a carriage that comfortably fits him??? The Duke was a really frustrating aspect of an otherwise fun game that is a major hindrance keeping me from wholeheartedly recommending Resident Evil Village.

Ultimately though, Resident Evil Village is not a regularly frightening, nail-biting type of game. It delivers a campiness defined by the tension of being hunted combined with finding a video game herb on the ground and immediately putting it in your mouth. The highlight moment of this camp flavor is when Lady Dimitrescu cuts your hand off in a cutscene and Ethan immediately uses a health restorative item to put it back on, while seemingly grotesque, Ethan doesn’t blanche for a moment towards simply reattaching his hand, which rules so much. On the flip side, the most terrifying moment of the game is easily when they take your weapons away to put you in a Saw-like puzzle room where you are being stalked by a giant fetus, and your best chance to escape is to play hide-and-seek with this baby fetus. Both of these moments revolve around waiting for an elevator too – there’s a lot of elevator tension in this game, all the way up until the end.

Speaking of the end, the campiness and stupidity is ratcheted all the way to 11 in order to bring things home in an incredibly exciting and confounding way. The penultimate bossfight pits you against the final Lord Heisenberg in a giant mech vs kaiju fight that is exactly as awesome as it sounds. You get to use a chainsaw as your arm! It’s weird that this set piece undercuts Heisenberg’s main freak power of being able to control metal by your chainsaw mech being Heisenberg’s special brand of Not-Actually-Metal Metal™ but there goes me thinking again, which ends immediately because after this cool bossfight Mother Miranda finally shows up, teleports directly to where Ethan is in this middle-of-nowhere field, and rips Ethan’s heart out.

And Ethan diesHallelujah Mother Miranda, we’re finally free of Ethan!

A ghastly woman wearing an outfit that gives her a nun-like appearance stands, looking off-frame with suggestions of a forest setting in the background. She holds what appears to be a heart in one hand.

At least, you’d thinkhowever, without their village idiot, without the logical centerpoint of the universe, every other element of the game starts wildly spinning out of orbit as you take control of Chris Redfield who has a team of operatives that are making a Navy Seals-style run on the village that has been taken over by some kind of lichenous blob and a lycanthropic army under Mother Miranda’s control. You, as Chris, go full commando during a long set piece running and gunning through the village one last time with a heavy assault rifle. The player finally starts getting answers about the world through dialogue between Chris and his unit as well as through lore dumps that connect this Village with the rest of the Resident Evil universe. This becomes the dramatic tone for the rest of the game, as characters try to frantically clean up loose ends and lead into a big sequel hook without Ethan around. And you know what? By the end they finally accomplished their goal throughout the last two entire Resident Evil games: I felt bad for Ethan Winters. The man whose suffering never stopped filling me with a dark joy and entertainment, this wonder bread-ass protagonist who did not stop for a second to think why his health just randomly grows back after being impaled by zombie robots. Ethan, my dork, and my beloved. It takes embodying Chris “Slab Bulkhead” Redfield for five minutes to realize how much more interesting Ethan is than almost anyone else in this game. It took Ethan sacrificing himself for me to finally realize that… I would miss him. Ethan holds his baby daughter one last time and then, like a dumbass, immediately relinquishes her (and his wife?) to Chris “Not Your Wife-Killer” Redfield to go die in a fiery explosion of Chris’s own design. Right, did I mention Chris doesn’t kill Ethan’s wife? No… well, *deep breath*

Chris entered Ethan’s house hunting Miranda who is a shapeshifter taking the form of Ethan’s wife, Mia to try to get their child Rose, who is believed to be the only creature strong enough to destroy Miranda due to both of her parents being stable mold hosts. Chris’s military anti-biomutant unit, the BSAA sent the Winters Family to Romania as a honeypot to lure Miranda out, but what they don’t know is that she mentored the Umbrella Company’s founder in the 1930s, which through a series of events has led to the original creation of Biomutants that the BSAA are now trying to control into their own paramilitary unit, however these biomutant soldiers needed a testing ground so the BSAA intentionally brought the Winters to Romania after the events of RE7 in order for them to make a baby to lure out Miranda who also knows it is a trap and so she prepares for three years to build a plan for bringing Baby Rose to her village which is nearly foiled as Chris tries to shoot her dead while in the act of pretending to be Mia, but what Chris didn’t know was that when Miranda, as Mia, got plugged in the Winters’ home, Miranda re-disguised herself as a Mia’s corpse so that when Chris’s team took the whole Winters family away she could destroy the armored van they were all being transported in and escape to the village with Rose, leaving Chris to steal BSAA resources to save the Winters and destroy Miranda, but Miranda doesn’t know how powerful Ethan is, and the four lords don’t know that Miranda plans for Ethan to destroy them, and Chris doesn’t know that the corrupt BSAA’s plan was to field train their biomutant operatives, and the BSAA doesn’t know that Chris has formed his own splinter operation to save the Winters Family himself, and Ethan doesn’t know anything at all, and most importantly NOBODY KNOWS THE NAME OF THE VILLAGE

 


 

This is so stupid. Not for a second does it hold up to even an ounce of scrutiny.

But I loved it! It’s just stupid fun and it continues to be fun as I talk to friends and fellow VGCC contributors about the ending, long into the night. That’s what we’re all here for.

An adult man, kneeling on the ground, looks upon a baby he has rested in one arm.

I’m always a sucker for a protagonist doing something radically stupid and finally getting to take control of their own agency. After the second-worst day of his life, after hours of being whipped around and corralled by a carnival of freaks and fiends, Ethan got to make a plan and execute on it, officially seeing something come to an end. And that’s enough, Ethan… That’s enough buddy.

NO IT’S NOT, he’s a terrible father! After trying to save his daughter, Ethan gives up his entire family to the one person who screwed him harder than anyone in the entire damn Village! My guy, you really think your daughter is safe after we just proved that not even moving to a remote part of Romania was safe? Buddy!

Sorry, I’ve gotta get off this thought or I’m gonna be back on this topic all night. But it’s fun! This kind of chaotic high-drama ending is really fun and exciting to talk about. It’s like coming out of any campy horror movie and talking about all the plot holes with your friends. The kind of thing that reminds you of all the fun you had while watching it. I’m extremely worried that it’s not going to last though because Ethan’s death undercuts a lot of the events of the game, and it comes back to Capcom at large contending with its legacy. Resident Evil wants to have all this drama as well as tie it all into a larger MCU-esque universe. This flattens and reduces everything that happens within Resident Evil Village to what happens with Rose, the daughter. Unfortunately, unlike RE7, very little happens in the larger scheme of things within Village, which makes this a stop-gap between that and the next game. When comparing it to the MCU, I compare this to the second Captain America movie, Winter Soldier, which was also a major blockbuster success, critically and commercially, but ultimately what happens in that movie? No one really remembers and there isn’t much reason to go back and check anyways. The thing that connects Resident Evil Village and middle-child Captain America: Winter Soldier is that both entries to their series do not commit to any core themes like their predecessor does, but simply react to what worked with their predecessor entry and try continuing to emulate that. 

I see Capcom as having been in this rut of making reactionary games since Resident Evil 4 and while Resident Evil 7 seemed like they were trying a radically new direction, it’s clear that Capcom has firmly decided they have no interest in getting out of that headspace. In fact they are putting a little plastic hotel and four green houses on it in order to monopolize this rut with more and more sequels. I can see and understand folks being into this whole thing in a big way, but I don’t see this as a space where expression can grow, when every time a theme or motif starts to get established, it gets cut off by the next hyped-up set piece. And through all this action, you end up left with way more questions than the game seems to want to answer. But it’s clear that Capcom wants to sweep you out of the Village as quickly as possible to tell their story about international espionage and the folly of man trying to control the undead. This isn’t inherently a problem in the short-term, as it is dazzling and entertaining for the ride that it is, but afterwards, you are left with the main identity problem Capcom has with almost every one of their franchises: “Why would I return to this game after the inevitable sequel/remake comes out?” and there isn’t an answer to that here. Village was very fun, but with an ending that makes the events of the game inconsequential while also hooking you into a completely disconnected sequel or DLC-drop.

A first-person perspective view of a combat sequence featuring a gun and chainsaw flanking the screen, side by side.

I have no reason to expect this Romanian Village to ever become more than a single page of lore in a future sequel, which is a shame, since this is Capcom’s flagship series! This cycle of perpetuous narrative insolvency; you live here now Capcom. But hey! I hope I’m proved wrong in every way! I hope Capcom goes gangbusters with RE9 and I even hope The Duke shows up in the next game to grab Rose and be like, “Homie, I knew your dad for one day and he was the coolest dude I’ve ever met. Anyways, what’re ya buying?”

For now, I’m going to keep reveling in the pulp that is Resident Evil Village. There’s plenty of light popcorn to continue snacking on after the game ends through the classic Mercenaries mode and New Game Plus – so I’m gonna see if I can get some of these wacky achievements like slashing arrows out of the air with my knife or beating the entire game in the length of a single livestream with some wacky unlimited ammo gun. Knock knock, Lady Dimitrescu, Ethan’s coming back!

Resident Evil Village receives an Ethan Winter’s patented four-finger-discount out of five!

You made it all the way down here? Great job! And thank you!

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