Resident Evil Village review: Say “Raccoon City” to anyone who grew up playing consoles in the 1990s and you’ll see them stare wistfully into space, their mind floating on a cloud of nostalgia.
I’m talking, of course, about the mighty Resident Evil. The long-running franchise, which debuted with that groundbreaking game in 1996 on the original PlayStation – and Sega Saturn, yes I feel old too – is back with a new major instalment in the series.
Resident Evil Village review: A trip to Transylvania
Resident Evil Village is set three years after the events of Resident Evil 7. While the original was set in the since incinerated Raccoon City, Village takes you to a creepy, well, village in where else but Transylvania.
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Dracula’s crib may seem a corny place to set a game famed for the undead. But Capcom has never shied away from corny – and it hasn’t done its long list of blockbusters much harm has it?
Ethan Winters returns as the protagonist. He’s living with wife Mia and baby daughter Rosemary when Chris Redfield and his men suddenly appear. It’s a seminal moment in the story and drags you kicking and screaming to eastern Europe.
Things get weird and terrifying really fast
Once in spookyville, Ethan must embark on a rescue mission like no other. The village is governed by four mutant lords, each controlling their own forces from strongholds. And, in true Resident Evil style, things get really weird, really fast – and it’s terrifying.
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Resident Evil Village maintains the franchise’s survival horror elements but leans more towards action-oriented gameplay than its predecessors.
It’s first-person with an inventory management system similar to Resident Evil 4’s briefcase. Players can buy weapons and items from a merchant, The Duke.
Kill, cook, eat, yum
You can also hunt animals in the village and have them cooked. Filling your stomach with the resulting dishes (yum) boosts your health/damage resistance.
There’s also a six-player online multiplayer game as well as the return of arcade-style Mercenaries Mode.
As successful as Resident Evil has been down the years, the series has seen its fair share of disappointing releases. But I can happily report Village isn’t one of those.
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Resident Evil Village takes the best action elements of the franchise and updates them for the next generation while keeping the style that made RE7 so good.
The crowning achievement in Resident Evil Village, though, besides the excellent and engrossing story, is the pacing. Capcom has done a brilliant job in mixing things up to keep you on your toes with a roller coaster of emotions as the intensity flips throughout.
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The increased level of combat is welcome and feels slick, intuitive and, most of all, enjoyable. And, without giving too much away, the Beneviento graveyard section is some of the best gaming action I’ve seen.
That said, Resident Evil Village isn’t perfect and I couldn’t help but feel some elements – particularly towards the end – were a bit rushed.
I think the final hours could have been better and those new to the series may not fully appreciate the overarching links to previous titles. Even for fans of the franchise, it might be tough to tie all the connections together to make sense of the story.
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Make no mistake, though, the village is the perfect setting for Resident Evil. The variety of enemies throughout keep the tension palpable and is a credit to the franchise.
Give hardcore mode a try. You will rarely, if ever, have experienced tension and anxiety like it while gaming!
This is a long overdue and welcome return to the fast-paced action that made Resident Evil 4 so awesome.