Resident Evil Village
PLAYED ON: PC & PS4 Pro
(This review contains minor spoilers)
The Resident Evil series can be regarded as one of the most popular Gaming Franchises of modern times. It popularized the survival horror & zombie genre. Long time fans like me will always remember the closed corridors of the Mansion in the Arklay Mountains and the dread and horrors in Raccoon City. But even as a fan, I couldn't help but notice that the series became somewhat stale after Resident Evil 4. RE5 and RE6 were good games but they could not deliver the thrill and uneasiness that the previous games were famous for. But I was really excited to see the changes brought in by Resident Evil 7 (One could say that it bought the series back from the dead). Turning the gameplay around from Third Person to First Person while still retaining the quirkiness that resident evil is famous for. The reboot felt like a breath of fresh air it really needed.
So with the arrival of Resident Evil 8, I was really eager to see that how can Capcom build up on the new foundations set by resident evil 7 and man, did they do a FANTASTIC job.
Let us first get the biggest question answered that whether this game can hold up to the expectations set by the milestone in the RE franchise known as RE7. The answer to this is not a simple yes or no. The game may seem a little watered down to the people who were big fans of RE7 in the horror department. It cannot replicate the same tense atmosphere created by its predecessor but don't be disappointed as it comes really damn close. It closes all the gaps and even exceeds the previous titles by offering a plethora of new improvements and the classic quirkiness and WTF moments that the franchise strikes gold on.
Resident Evil 8 continues the story of our protag Ethan Winters from RE7 but this time the stakes are even bigger. The game opens up with Ethan enjoying a merry time with his family, Mia and his newborn daughter, Rose, but things soon take a toll and he finds himself stranded in a European Village where the entirety of the game takes place and the title comes from. The village is an old rundown settlement consisting of houses, narrow gloomy streets, fields, ruins and churches. It is a beautifully constructed location giving off the same bizarre and menacing vibes as the location Resident Evil 4 was set in, giving old players a sense of nostalgia while at the same time, packing a ton of details and an awe-inspiring background. The derelict village also has an old gothic castle that towers over the other areas of the game. The creepy yet scenic environment makes you want to explore every nook and cranny of the village.
Our protagonist Ethan has always been a normal guy, not knowing how he got into all this mess and finding his way out of these horrifying situations. It looks like that he has gained some experience from his previous ordeal with the Baker family in RE7 and is more aware in this game as he also has the crucial mission of finding his daughter Rose.
ENEMIES AND COMBAT
RE8 takes a more action-focused approach compared to the tense survival horror vibes of the previous RE7. It may seem like one of the few downsides of the game as it reduces the horror element and adds more shooting and blasting off enemies. You go from desperately trying to survive with limited resources to fighting hordes of lycans in this game. While at first, it may seem like a bummer to the fans of the classic horror genre, the game manages to deliver on the horror front in its own ways. There are still tons of horror tropes to keep the players on the edge of their seats. One thing the game improves on is the gunplay offering a variety of options to choose from and various upgrades the players can add to the weapons. In my playthrough the gun game felt robust and polished and quite a lot better than the previous games. RE8 in my opinion offers the perfect blend of action and horror, maintaining both greatly so that the action sequences don't interfere much with the classic horror vibe of the RE franchise.
Where the previous RE7 games offered a standard enemy type of rotten fungus-like creatures called the molded with only a few modifications, RE8 offers a plethora of new enemies. The standard run of the mill zombie is replaced by the Lycans, werewolves like creatures that are highly agile and can easily scale up walls and buildings. There are also a bunch more intimidating and terrifying enemies to encounter as you play through the game, like the mechanized monstrosities you encounter in Heisenberg's lair. All in all the enemy design of this game is clearly a huge step up from the previous one.
SPOILER: RE8 also packs a few great bosses which you will encounter as you make your way through the different sections of the village. The most notable ones are the Four Lords which serve under the main antagonist who is behind all the creepy and weird things that are happening in the village. Each of these lords has its own lair/location which offers a different environment to the players. The most iconic and notable one of these is obviously Lady Dimitrescu, the tall and alluring vampire lady, who chases you around through the lavish and dark corridors of her castle. The castle has a bunch of other different enemies for you to fight as well.
Though my one gripe with the game is that the other bosses and the fights against them are not as iconic and memorable as the one with Lady Dimitrescu. It's not to say that the other bosses are bad it's just that their story and fights don't feel as polished or exciting as the one we have with our Tall vampire lady, which had set my expectations for the other bosses a little too high.
Although the game primarily focuses on the village, the actual game has been divided into various areas with the village serving as the centre point of the entire game world. Capcom really did a great job making the game not feel like it's offering just one flavour of horror by adding a bunch of different locations for the players to explore and traverse through. The most iconic one of these without a doubt would be the Castle Dimitrescu, the home to the tall and glamorous vampire Lady Dimitrescu and her daughters, the gothic-styled building which towers over the whole village. Taking cues from the Spencer mansion from the original first game yet having the grandeur and massive scale one would expect from it. The castle offers a number of puzzles and challenges for the player to go through while offering gothic horror vibes as you fight your way through a bunch of different enemy types and mini-bosses while also being chased down by Lady Dimitrescu herself.
The mansion of the Dollmaker Donna Beneviento, one of the rulers of the village like Lady Dimitrescu, is another one of the locations in the game which makes the game feel memorable. The dusty old house is filled with eerie and creepy disfigured dolls and makes the player experience a sense of dread and tense psychological horror. It is pure psychological horror and one of the most scariest and creepiest in all of the Resident Evil franchise. It also houses one of the creepiest creatures I have ever encountered in the whole franchise which I am sure even the bravest of players will have to take a moment to get used to.
Another portion of the game has you exploring the Heisenberg's Factory offering a steampunked and sci-fi maze-like massive area. This labyrinth is full of really cool enemy designs with enemies having mechanical appendages and enhancements. It is one of the more action-focused areas of the game giving the players a tense adrenaline-filled ride as they fight various enemies.
It is not all as the game offers more interesting locations like the ruins, stronghold and the fishermen village each having their own charms.
Though the game offers a variety of locations to explore, not all of them are as impactful as the first ones. To me, it felt like Capcom was trying to make something on a larger scale but couldn't quite hit the mark on all of it, but then too the game as a whole feels great and is really enjoyable and all these different locations just add more to the game.
Although not all the portions are equally polished to the same levels and well-strung together but then too it is the one thing I love about this game. Each location gives a fresh new vibe and presents a new form of horror to the players. Psychological horror, jump scares, stalker chases, intense fights, all you can name can be found in different locations of the game. It never settles on being a single type of horror game and always gives the players something new to experience.
RE8 explores both the action and horror genres simultaneously. The game transitions from creepy and dire closed environments to open arenas quite actively. There are a ton of battle sequences with Lycans and the various other enemies throughout the game. These tense fights constitute the action part of the game whereas most of the horror elements are induced by the unsettling environment and different lairs you traverse through. I personally wished that Capcom had tried to expand on the environmental horror rather than adding more fight sequences to the game as fighting a horde of Lycans soon becomes stale and boring. The gameplay is more 1st person shooter-esque though the horror elements are still strong.
The devs also added some Quality-Of-Life improvements like changes to the inventory with different items having different storage locations so that they don't interfere with your combat gear and medicinal items. It streamlines the game but at the same time makes it a little less tense and inventory management focused than the previous games.
This time around the puzzles which were a really interesting part of the previous resident evil games has also decreased. The ones that are present are not that difficult and can be solved easily in a few minutes. It definitely feels likes a step down from the previous games in the franchise which were famous for their well thought out and mind consuming puzzles.
One interesting part of this new game is the Duke. He feels like a direct throwback to the merchant found in RE4. The Duke provides you with a variety of items like weapon upgrades, blueprints, ammo. You can also sell weapons and other valuables that you found on your journey through the game as you fight and defeat various bosses and enemies. You can also make him cook you meals that provide you with upgrades to your player, Ethan. The Duke offers a robust character progression system to the players which makes them think carefully on how to build their inventory.
Resident Evil 8 Village feels like a classic resident evil game bringing back the quirkiness that the franchise was famous for. It takes inspiration from various previous RE titles, yet it feels like its own new game. It continues the story from RE7 which felt like a soft reboot, that brought a breath of fresh air to the franchise and add to its charms. It delivers both on the horror and action fronts while offering the players a bunch of highly detailed and well thought out places to explore. Each of these places feels like a completely different horror game which is loosely tied up by the Village serving as its centre point and main area. If you are a fan of horror games or a fan of the RE franchise in general, then it is definitely the game for you to check out. It is one of the best horror experiences that you can play right now.
TSHC SCORE: 9/10
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