The Chris Redfield-centric marketing of Resident Evil 8: Village is one of the reasons I was excited to play this game. Now that I have finished it, in my opinion, Resident Evil 8 can be described as a mashup that takes inspiration from the franchise’s 25 years of history to try and appeal to a wide range of players.
This review of Resident Evil 8: Village contains spoilers. You have been warned.
The moment Capcom decided to release promo images for the latest installment in the long-running RE game series, fans couldn’t help but state how the setting of the game in a remote village resembled Resident Evil 4. Truth be told, I’m not a fan of 2005’s RE 4 even though it’s considered the best entry in the franchise. I have only played it once or twice. However, I have seen my younger brother play it numerous times. I’m not saying it’s a bad game. It’s just not for me. And I also think the action-oriented direction of RE 4 is what ruined the main RE franchise.
Anyway, the fact I’m not a fan of RE 4 and RE 7 (read my review here) made me wonder if I would enjoy playing RE 8. Well, I kind of did.
Taking you 8 to 10 hours (depending on your speed) to complete the main story, Resident Evil 8 comes across as Capcom’s attempt to build a game that offers something for every kind of fan. It reminds me of 2012’s Resident Evil 6 as that particular game also changes gameplay across different campaigns.
RE Village, like RE 4, has Ethan finding himself in a mysterious village. Similar to RE 4 there’s a castle involved. It also has a boss-fight resembling the lake monster you encounter in RE 4. The beginning even has a stage where you have to defend yourself from a horde of enemies while staying inside a cabin. Ethan continues to get his limbs chopped and bitten off like RE 7. There are areas where you have to be stealthy while in others you have no choice but to embrace the action and kill everything in front of you. While the change in gameplay does help with keeping things fresh and catering to certain types of players, the ever-changing nature does prevent Resident Evil Village from having a specific identity.
And then there’s the main plot. I’m not going to sit here and explain the entire thing. There are RE experts out there who will do a far better job than I can. However, I will say that making Mother Miranda tie so closely to the origins of the Umbrella Corporation and Oswell E. Spencer made me go, “The lore is getting unnecessarily complicated.” And we all know unnecessary complications are ripe grounds for massive plotholes and weird retcons.
Focusing on the simpler narrative choices, RE Village picks up three years after the events of RE 7. Ethan and Mia are trying to live a normal life with their newborn baby Rosemary. But the opening scene makes it clear something is off with Mia. After putting Rose to bed and sitting down with Mia for dinner, sad queer disaster Chris Redfield arrives with his crew and shoots down Mia. He doesn’t explain anything to Ethan. After killing Mia, Ethan and Rose are taken by Chris’s team.
The marketing of this game focused a lot on Chris being the bad guy. But the actual story, which I’ll get to in a bit, is quite different.
Now, I did roll my eyes and laugh when Chris and his team kill Mia. Considering Chris has experienced numerous bioweapons over the decades, you would think he would have the sense to burn Mia’s body to make sure she stays dead. But he doesn’t. And that particular plot convenience comes back to ruin everything for everyone. It’s just bad writing.
The Mia that’s killed isn’t the real Mia. But Ethan doesn’t know that. So, a major part of the game has Ethan making his way through the Transylvania-inspired village to rescue a kidnapped Rose (who was taken away from Chris’s team).
While unlocking the mysteries of the village and inching closer to rescuing Rose, you get to learn about Mother Miranda and her four lords named Alcina Dimitrescu, Donna Beneviento, Salvatore Moreau, and Karl Heisenberg. The village serves as the hub as you gain entry into the areas governed by each lord. And of course, each territory features unique visuals and varying gameplay depending on the lord. Salvatore lives at the reservoir, Donna and her creepy dolls are in a mansion, Alcina and her three daughters are in the castle, and Karl has a factory. It’s all very Gotham-esque. (Penguin likes the cold, Killer Croc is in the sewers, etc.)
Killing the lords isn’t difficult. And I do wish the creative team had tried more to make the encounters stand out from the rest of the installments in the series. If I were to chose, going after Donna and her creepy dolls was the most fun for me becasue of the psychological horror aspect.
Once the lords are taken care of, you get to confront the main boss Mother Miranda. It’s revealed that Mother Miranda’s the fake Mia that Chris kills in the beginning. Miranda’s goal is to resurrect her daughter by using Rose as a vessel because Rose is special due to what her parents went through in RE 7.
Playing as Ethan is quite different this time around. He’s had offscreen combat training and is ready to do everything possible to protect his baby. The gameplay is more or less similar to the first-person mechanics from RE 7. You will still need to craft items and keep an eye on your inventory space. While ammunition is scarce at first, you will soon be able to gather quite a lot because, unlike RE 7, enemies drop random loot. There’s also a merchant you can visit to buy supplies, upgrade weapons and stats, and sell stuff.
Some fans who really liked the survival-horror aspect of RE 7 might be surprised by such a change in tone. But it is what it is. Also, you can’t make characters who have already survived their versions of hell continue being scared in the sequels. Ethan’s been through a lot. Weird creatures and near-death experiences don’t worry him anymore.
Also, it helps that Ethan’s capable of staying alive even when werewolf-like monsters (called Lycans in the game) bite his fingers off or when his entire hand gets chopped off.
For those doubting Ethan’s human status since the seventh main game, RE Village finally gives us an answer. Turns out, he actually died back in RE 7. The mold took over and he’s basically a bioweapon walking around. I would feel sorry for him, but then again, not having superhuman healing abilities would mean he couldn’t have survived everything he’s been through. So, yay? I guess. He’s technically dead, but can still do something to save his daughter. And that’s what matters.
Along with playing as Ethan and shooting down hordes of Lycans, flying creatures, vampire ladies, and more, RE 8 also puts you in the shoes of Chris Redfield (near the end) as he and his team arrive at the village to stop the huge bioterrorism threat via the Megamycete. His gameplay amps up the action by a lot, complete with airstrikes. I enjoyed every second of it.
Besides the plot convenience early on in the game, I liked catching up with Chris. He’s still sad and has grown older, but at least he still looks cool, cares a lot, and is basically a one-man army. In my opinion, having him be the one to discover Miranda’s connection to Spenser made sense. He’s an OG character after all.
Also, look at how cute Chris looks holding baby Rose!
While adding to the main Resident Evil lore, RE 7 and RE 8 serve as a two-part story of Ethan Winters. RE Village brings his journey to a close as he sacrifices himself to save Rose as well as the rest of the world. Even though I’m not a fan of Ethan, I still feel sad he had to die (again).
However, with Ethan gone, there’s still a lot this popular game franchise can explore. Chris is shocked to learn that the BSAA (who are supposed to be the good guys) is sending bioweapons into the field. And the epilogue features a time skip to an older Rose (around 17 years of age?) visiting her father’s grave. She’s undergoing tests due to her mutated powers (similar to Eveline). Rose is also under constant surveillance. The agents are ready to kill her if required. The final shot has Rose being driven away from the cemetery by an agent and the car seems to stop as a mysterious stranger comes near it.
I’m not sure when the next installment in the Resident Evil game franchise will be released, but I wouldn’t mind playing as Rose and getting to use supernatural abilities. With Jake Muller, Sherry Birkin, Jill Valentine, and Natalia Korda basically being mutants as well, I wouldn’t mind a game featuring all of them alongside Rose.
The next offering could also be set between the events of RE 8 and the epilogue. So many possibilities to explore. The Resident Evil fan theorists are going to have a field day.
As for the visuals, the surroundings do look incredible in a first-person perspective. You will find yourself walking quite near to certain textures and art pieces to really appreciate what they have going on. There’s also a lot of enemy variety that makes for exciting and grotesque encounters, highlighted in the best way by the overall design choices. The facial features are impressive, too. If I were to nitpick, I would say that the human hair texture could have been better because long human hair doesn’t move as it’s supposed to.
All in all, Resident Evil 8: Village offers a mashup of features plucked from across the franchise. Even if you don’t enjoy a particular scenario, it will change soon enough to offer something different. The more action-oriented take might disappoint some fans, though.
The latest installment also comes with the fan-favorite bonus Mercenaries Mode. So, if you’re into action-packed arcade-style gameplay to unlock special weapons and gloat about your high scores, Mercenaries Mode is the perfect place to go crazy.
What did you think of Resident Evil 8: Village?
Let us know.
Note: I played Resident Evil 8: Village on PC/Steam.
The game was released on May 7, 2021, for Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Stadia.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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