Resident Evil Village Review – A ‘ciorbă de legume’

Remember those evenings when you used to gather at a friend’s house to play the new game that came out? Well, a few weeks ago, a few of us from the Games Row team got together to play the “new game that came out” (meaning it’s been out for over two months). Surprisingly, we managed to finish the game in the same evening after only 10 hours and we decided to put out a review for Resident Evil Village.

Believe it or not, the hardest thing we had to do wasn’t about a boss or a puzzle, something you’d normally expect, but the hardest thing was to refrain from exploring every nook and cranny of the map to find guns, ammo and lions. Because, well, that’s the Romanian way, quantity is more important than quality. We can say that our instinct as gamers, fond of role-playing games, has spoken because we collected everything we could find.

Story

Resident Evil Village is the sequel to the events of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The penultimate game in the series introduced a new narrative thread, set in the same universe, in which the main character, Ethan Winters, attempts to rescue his supposedly dead wife from the home of a family of cannibals.

The Village takes place 3 years after the events of Biohazard. Ethan and Mia, who have managed to escape from the Baker family home, live happily in Romania with their 6-month-old daughter Rosemary. They are trying to forget what happened and live a quiet life, or so they would like to think.

On an ordinary evening, when their family was having a vegetable soup, the three are attacked in their own home. Ethan and his daughter are kidnapped. After the car in which they were being transported crashes, Ethan finds himself near a rural Romanian village where the action really begins. Ethan is forced to explore the village, which at first glance seems deserted, trying to survive the creatures that swarm it and searching for clues that may lead him to Rose.

A children’s bedtime story

Resident Evil games are known for their gameplay, but not for their story. Resident Evil Village is no exception and brings to the table a story full of loopholes in which even the main character doesn’t seem truly invested. Ethan’s personality and attitude throughout the game are inconsistent with all the things that happen to him.

The lack of narrative detail that the game presents does not engage the player or arouse curiosity about the world and its characters. In short, it feels like Capcom quickly cobbled together a simple narrative thread that didn’t matter much to them in the game’s development in order to continue the story begun in Biohazard.

On top of that, somewhere towards the end of the game things take a strange turn in a scene where Village goes completely out of the survival-horror game realm. This portion of the game, while very satisfying, has nothing to do with the essence of the Resident Evil games. By introducing this scene, not only does the game lose its charm, but the ending is also drawn out.

Gameplay

Village leaves something to be desired in terms of story but makes up for it in gameplay. Capcom didn’t put much effort into creating an intriguing story but once again managed to capture the essence of a survival-horror that keeps the player captivated by combining several elements from previous games.

Resident Evil games have always been able to make players tense up and get their pulse racing. The Village is no different in this regard. Right from the start, the game challenges you. Even a single enemy can mean game over. The game forces you to be constantly aware of what’s in front of you, to adapt to any situation, but also to think about your next moves.

Every situation is different and the game gives you more possibilities to solve it. You can ram into the action hoping to survive, you can try to play it safe and easy by taking advantage of your surroundings and saving resources, or you can ignore the no-kill enemies and optional areas altogether. You decide, but each play style has its pros and cons, and the game knows how to punish you if you’re not serious.

The transitions between explored, horror and action are very well balanced and it doesn’t feel like one lasts longer than the other. So after each tough battle, you have plenty of time to explore, gather resources and prepare for the next obstacle. The map helps players a lot in this regard. It highlights areas that can’t be accessed, areas where certain resources can be found or areas where players haven’t found all the items yet.

A moment of breathing

Village creates a progression-dependent feel that manages to intrigue the player as its predecessors did. The further you progress in the story, you discover ways to make your life easier, like upgrading weapons or using the crafting system to make your first aid kit and bullets. Another interesting mechanic is Ethan’s skill enhancement by eating specific Romanian dishes, which adds to the game and encourages the player to explore for the ingredients specified in the recipes. Tip: don’t sell any ingredients!

A Resident Evil game wouldn’t be the same without puzzles, which are the main way to move on. The puzzles in Village are intuitive and prompt the player to explore to find items needed for progression. On a few of these occasions the player must combine items or disassemble them to obtain the desired item. These kinds of puzzles have become a constant in these games, and while they aren’t hard, they still provide player satisfaction.

A minus of the gameplay is that the horror part, in the survival-horror genre, was not so much emphasized. The only truly horror part of Village takes place about halfway through the game and doesn’t last more than 1 hour of the 10 hours of gameplay. Compared to Biohazard, Village is more of an action game. The other 9 hours of the game are filled with fights, running and puzzles.

Graphics

Capcom didn’t hesitate to invest in the graphics and animation in Village. The game’s graphics are stunning and benchmark for this generation of games. The details are very well done, from the characters to the environment.

The character animation is very realistic and nothing feels forced. Every enemy encountered has unique movements, creatures such as werewolves or zombies have varied and random movements that can mislead players, thus wasting bullets trying to take them down.

Kinda big hammer, don’t you think?

It’s obvious that Capcom have done their homework in terms of where the action takes place. One of the strengths of the graphics is the accurate portrayal of rural Romanian life. As Romanians, we can easily spot every aspect that reminds us of our childhood days in the countryside, from the backyard “buda” and the tools scattered around the garden to the houses full of rugs and mile highs. Such details bring players into the game’s atmosphere and highlight the cultural elements that attest to the authenticity of place.

Sound

The sound in Village is not at a very high level but it is present and sometimes manages to raise the heart rate of the players. The soundtrack for the fight scenes and bossfights does increase the tension a bit but doesn’t necessarily stand out. The attention is generally grabbed by the sound effects of weapons and the sounds enemies make, which are of a high quality. The soundtracks are neither bad nor good, but fit the horror and action atmosphere of the game.

What pulls the sound down are the dialogue and the voices of the characters. Dialogue throughout is ambiguous and poorly done. It has many gaps and very often fails to capture the true feelings and emotions of the characters, and moreover, makes them seem lame.

The lines of the actor who vocally played Ethan were 70% one-sentence “What the hell?…”. The rest of the characters have more diversity in their lines, but they are cliché and uninspired.

What is it with horror and music boxes?

Atmosphere

The game manages to create the same atmosphere as its predecessors, that of gripping you with moments of fear, interesting puzzles, progression mechanics, tension and action galore. It’s true that the game’s story doesn’t influence the atmosphere too much, but the gameplay and graphics manage to raise it to a decent level.

Village awakens players’ desire to explore and find ways to progress, so it captures their attention and increases their enjoyment of the game.

Conclusion

All in all, Resident Evil Village continues this series of games that don’t take their story seriously, creating clichéd and sometimes personality-less characters with ambiguous and uninspired dialogue. Still, the game excels in gameplay and graphics, two factors that “carry”, if I may say so, the game’s reputation.

Village is a very good game that lacks a few elements needed to take it to the next level and is different from its predecessor in one important aspect. For those who want the experience of a horror game, Biohazard puts more emphasis on that genre, and for those more into action and survival, Village is the right choice.

Our criteria at Games Row for rating games are as objective as can be. Of course, reviews are influenced (also) by personal experiences. So our ratings may not meet everyone’s expectations.

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