Resident Evil Village (RE8) is a first-person survival horror set in Eastern Europe during the present times. Once again, players play as Ethan Winters (same protagonist as RE7), that along with his wife Mia and daughter Rose, moved to a remote village to start a new life. The terrifying past that they all hoped to leave behind however, strikes back at them brutally. Ethan will be once again on a quest to save his family, against an even more dangerous enemy than ever before. It is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7 and these two games form kind of a sub-story in the RE universe but it does also tie into the rest of RE story in a quite surprising way. And I have to say, it definitely is the best story a RE game has ever seen, by far. Without going into detail, it will keep you guessing and on the edge throughout and till the very end.
Gameplay & Mechanics
You can tell CAPCOM experimented a bit with mechanics in this iteration and not all of them succeeded but boy did they have an impact when executed flawlessly. At first, I was a bit apprehensive and confused by the story but questions & ambiguity in the beginning hours fuelled my drive to keep exploring. I just had to venture deeper to understand what was exactly happening and the revelations (whilst somewhat cliché at times) did satisfy me, but the end and the delivery were simply impactful.
The gameplay is challenging but rewarding. There are plenty of optional areas to explore, treasures to discover, puzzles to solve and even hidden bosses to find. It will definitely make you reminisce of RE4. Every time you return to an area you may even find something new so backtracking is encouraged. Speaking of challenge, there is a difficulty for every type of player but for your first playthrough (especially if you are like me and love taking your time exploring every room and just taking it all in at a slow pace) I highly recommend going with Standard or even Casual if you don’t have much experience with FPS games as higher difficulties can be quite tough. The higher difficulties are mostly designed for a second playthrough as enemies have a lot of extra hp and yes, there is a new game+ option. There’s also tons of replay value here with challenges and many unlockable rewards that will give you reason to go through the game over and over again.
About the puzzles, they are rather uncommon, sparsely distributed throughout the adventure. They often involve finding the correct sequence in some layout of elements, or gathering all the required pieces to operate something. None of the enigmas prove to be much of a challenge, as they are all on simple levels.
The game plays out in first-person, with Ethan able to carry several guns and equip four of them or equivalent consumables like grenades in quick slots for immediate swapping. As in most survival horrors, precision and conservation are the foundations: hitting enemy weak points, using environmental elements (like explosive barrels) and being as efficient as possible are the only ways to not run out of, well… everything. Blocking has paramount importance as well, as it greatly reduces sustained damage and enables a stun counter-attack afterwards. On “Hardcore”, enemies hit like a ton of bricks, some capable of killing Ethan in a single blow even.
The Horror of RE8
As an avid horror fan, the biggest aspect I appreciated is when the game decided “okay, you’ve had some fun blasting your way here, now buckle up and put your diapers on”. It leaves you helpless, tortures your senses and creates the sheer terror of a truly psychological thriller during segments of the game. I would’ve loved more but when they cropped up, I was both terrified & filled with adrenaline. What sets RE: 8 apart from a lot of other horror games is its balance of action & horror which are designed to complement each other to provide a varied & engaging experience. There are specific sections where you will simply not be able to shoot your way through, no matter what weapons you have or how good you are. If that is a negative, so be it but for me this was nothing but a positive. It’s rare to find a game that employs a risky approach of trying to meld the two genres in such a unified manner. After you are done with the story, Mercenaries mode is a lot of fun with a heap of replayability & CAPCOM has gone the extra mile to make a second run more enjoyable beyond the usual “here’s a crazy weapon for the next time, enjoy”.
Some designs are really horrifying, and they can really give a shiver down your spine.
Visuals and Sound Design
The visuals are incredibly impressive and without a doubt one of the best in the business but more importantly the RE engine manages to deliver them with minimal system requirements. In my 50 hours of playtime on max settings the game did not crash or even stutter once and everyone who I have talked to also said they are impressed with how much they improved the technical aspect of it over RE7.
The thing I personally was the most impressed with, the sound design. The grass moving in the wind, footstep noises, growls, all of these sound so natural and I’ve never heard a game do such a good job with sound design, and trust me I’ve played a lot of AAA games. The random noises will make you jump naturally without it feeling forced as enemies may be lurking close by without you even realizing it. The OST of the game was great, Shusaku Uchiyama went put his all into it.
You can listen for yourself by clicking on the link below:
Is Resident Evil Village worth it?
It took me around 15 hours to complete RE8 on Hardcore difficulty, taking time to explore all locations in full and clear secondary activities. After that, Mercenaries mode, “Shadows” difficulty and Challenges offer extra content, for those interested. Considering the excellent quality and AAA release caliber, the price of 60€ is justified, so I can recommend buying for full price.