‘Resident Evil’ Reinvents Itself Again in Nerve-Fraying ‘Village’

Frights, firefights, and more await fans of the survival horror series

Key Takeaways

  • Resident Evil Village is the eighth mainline entry in the series that defined the survival horror genre 25 years ago.
  • Village is a direct sequel to 2017's Resident Evil 7, but you needn't have braved the last game to enjoy this tension-ratcheting horror romp.
  • It retains the previous entry's protagonist and first-person perspective, but represents a significant departure in its pacing and gameplay.
Cover art for the Village: Resident Evil.

Sony

Resident Evil Village picks up three years after the events of Resident Evil 7, but returning protagonist Ethan Winters' new nightmare has little in common with the terrors he previously suffered.

On top of continuing Ethan's story, the latest entry in the iconic survival horror series brings back the fright-inducing first-person perspective of the previous installment. But the similarities mostly end there, as Village trades its predecessor's disturbing Louisiana setting for a creepy stretch of Eastern European countryside.

The new location isn't home to the series' typical zombie-like threats, but instead introduces a rogue's gallery of gothic horror staples, including werewolves and vampires. The more varied cast of creatures also gives way to diverse methods of dispatching them—or running from them—ensuring Village consistently keeps you on your toes.

"Those who did survive Resident Evil 7—and are hoping for more of the same—might be disappointed in Village's departure from its predecessor's formula."

A Winters' Tale

Village picks up the story of the previous entry's every-man protagonist Ethan Winters, but you needn't have braved the last game to enjoy the unlucky hero's latest fright-filled adventure. Those who did survive Resident Evil 7—and are hoping for more of the same—might be disappointed in Village's departure from its predecessor's formula.

Given the success of 7, an entry that essentially rebooted the 25-year-old franchise, its creators could have easily phoned-in a sequel, collected a fat paycheck, and called it a day. However, Village is far more ambitious than that, taking Winter's terrifying tale in wildly unexpected directions.

Forgoing the slow-burn scares of 7, Village is much more like a nail-biting roller-coaster ride, blending a wider variety of enemy types and gameplay styles into a twisty journey that really can't be directly compared to what's come before it. The result is a seat-of-the-pants experience that isn't always scary, but that rarely lets you relax.

Screenshot from Resident Evil: The Village

Its first hour or so offers a perfect representation of its breathless pacing. Following a brief (optional) recap of the last game and a tragic event that sets Village's story in motion, you'll find yourself in the titular, horrifying hamlet.

Fast-forward a bit, and you're fighting off packs of toothy beasts, desperately attempting to escape a burning building, and hauling hide through a Running Man-like gauntlet of torture devices.

The breakneck cadence significantly slows when you enter a sprawling, opulent castle, where the action-heavy antics are traded for more deliberate exploration and puzzle-solving.

Of course, the setting's quieter atmosphere is often interrupted by a nearly 10-foot-tall female vampire and her trio of bloodthirsty daughters, ensuring your pulse remains elevated beyond any doctor recommended levels.

Survival Horror Evolved

This sort of erratic pacing could get old over the course of an entire game, but Village smartly side-steps this potential pitfall with a brilliant structure that begins to reveal itself a few hours in.

Screenshot from Resident Evil: The Village

Not unlike the central point in a theme park, the village serves as a sort of hub leading to other themed lands. While all areas are organically connected, each features its own look and feel, enemies, boss characters, and most critically, gameplay focus.

As this structure comes into focus, you'll begin to notice more inspiration from previous entries in the franchise. That vampire-inhabited castle, for example, shares a similar vibe as the first game's zombie-filled Mansion, while battling the village's werewolves isn't all that different from fending off Resident Evil 4's pitchfork-wielding foes.

In this way, chunks of Village can seem like welcome call-backs to some of the series' best moments. Taken as a whole, however, it feels like a refreshing new direction for a franchise that's been taking risks—for better and worse—for a quarter of a century.

Toss in a stunning visual presentation, incredibly immersive atmosphere, and a handful of moments that could fuel a lifetime of nightmares, and Village is not only a worthy Resident Evil entry, but a thrilling ride that should tingle the spine of any horror fan.

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