End Of Level Boss Village of the damned
RESIDENT EVIL TRANSPLANTS ITS SPOOKY CHARMS TO WINTRY RURAL EUROPE, WITH LARGELY SUCCESSFUL RESULTS
Resident Evil: Village
(PEGI 18) PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X, PC
JUST five short years ago Resident Evil was in danger of outstaying its welcome. The disaster that was 2012’s Res 6 summed up for me a franchise losing touch with its fans.
But just as all hope seemed lost, 2017 saw the debut of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, a title which cast off the generic shooter shackles that tied down the last few games and returned the series to its survival horror roots.
Now Resident Evil: Village aims to build on those foundations.
Set three years after the events of Biohazard, the game starts with protagonist Ethan Winters living an idyllic life with wife Mia and newborn daughter Rosemary.
But that life is shattered when – and I don’t want to spoil things, so let’s just say something horrible happens.
That awful event sees Ethan relocated to an eerie European village, where he sets out in search of his family.
While your location is never explicitly given, it’s clearly leaning towards Romania – nestled in the wintery mountain regions.
The village itself is gloriously creepy. Frozen fields, ancient ruins and churches litter the landscape, while ramshackle homes huddle in the snow – all in the shadow of an imperious castle, which sits high on the hill, its spires disappearing into the descending mists. Suitably isolated, it exudes menace and begs to be explored.
Ethan himself comes off as not very bright, and while I understand the need for exposition to carry the narrative, his constant stating of the obvious wears a little thing. Dragged through the floor of a hut by terrifying hands, he snaps on a torch to be confronted with a corpse.
“A dead body!” he exclaims. Scanning the room to see numerous remains scattered in the basement, he adds, “there’s more of them”.
And while he’s not exactly the most exciting dude you’d want by your side in such a perilous situation, it’s his ‘normality’ that elevates the kookiness of the village’s residents.
Most of the town’s inhabitants have been slaughtered by four monstrous local lords under the command of ‘head witch’ Mother Miranda.
It was always going to be hard to top the macabre Baker family from Biohazard, but Village’s increased roster of bloodthirsty beasts makes for an interesting variety of combat encounters.
If Ethan hopes to see his family again he must track the deranged nobles back to their lairs and dispose of them.
There’s a noticeable shift in atmosphere as you move from location to location.
Castle Dimitrescu is dripping in opulence, mirroring the elegance of its owner, the towering Lady Dimitrescu, who resides there with her three daughters.
Karl Heisenberg and his Lycans shelter in a rusting, rotting factory, Salvatore Moreau operates from a dank reservoir with his “merman”, while Donna Beneviento rules from House Beneviento, controlling a puppet named Angie.
That puppet is the stuff of nightmares, as you try to escape the mansion’s twisting corridors in the dark, the chilling sound of baby gurgles, and high-pitched giggles at your shoulder.
These wildly different settings make for an almost horror anthology feeling, and force you to alter your tactics as you move from location to location.
The game’s inventory management system is similar to that of Resident Evil 4, featuring a briefcase where you can stash your expanding arsenal. And in a lovely little homage to Res 4, you can trade for items with the Duke – an amorphous blob of a man, who periodically turns up in his sinister merchant’s wagon to do business.
While I filled my boots with fancy guns and ammo, I soon discovered that bullets don’t work against every enemy, and I lamented that fact as I ran for my life from the bloodsuckers of Castle Dimitrescu.
Graphically this is jaw dropping, with a story that offers you a selection box of gory delights. The horrifying characters feel tangible and fleshed out.
The action is fast-paced and visceral, which fans of the slow-burning, tension-building style of Biohazard may find a little jarring.
But the depth and breadth of ideas on show here is phenomenal, proving that a quarter of a century on from its debut, Resident Evil still has the power to chill and thrill.
The village itself is gloriously creepy...
BUY IT: £48.50 from base.com