Four years after Resident Evil 7, which many fans consider to be the relaunch of the series, Resident Evil Village is finally fully revealed for all those who dare to face this Transylvanian town where vampires, werewolves and newts have only one objective: to eat the player to the fullest. But does it meet all expectations? Answer in our test.
In general, Resident Evil 7, released in 2017 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, brand a turning point in the Resident Evil series. No more third person view. Gone is the archaic grip that was so innovative in 1996 when the first part was released on the original PlayStation (November 22, 1996 to be exact). Gone are also the members of the special forces S.T.A.R.S. Les Chris and Claire Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Leon Kennedy. We almost forget everything here. Almost.
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RE7 is therefore a kind of “relaunch”, as we say in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We change perspective. We change character. We also change the pace. Here we adopt a horror movie narration, with an alternation between moments of worry, fear and uncertainty and moments of frenzy where enemies with a human face, but monstrous invincibility (and unorthodox culinary tastes), chase you .
In the footsteps of Silent Hill, many more complex at the psychological level than the first Resident Evil, RE7 plays more with nerves, repulsion and a (strong) dose of psychosis. You want to play RE7, but, at the same time, not really … Like those who go back to see a horror movie in the cinema. A choice that paid off since the game obtained numerous awards and very positive reviews, even from the most rigorous sites.
Four years later, Capcom is backing up with Resident Evil Village. Same graphics engine. Same choice of visualization, in first person (subjective view). Same central character, since you play once again Ethan Winters. And even narration focused more on conditioning the player. However, instead of rummaging through a sordid property, Resident Evil Village invites you to explore a town where folk monsters, satanic rituals, and cadaverous diet mingle with ferocity. And you are going to take extremely expensive!
Let’s wander in the forest…
On the scenario side, Capcom made a good decision: pick up the story where we left off at the end of Resident Evil 7. Simply. So you find Ethan Winters whose production intentionally masks his face so that the player can fully identify with him (at least, for men …). This was the case in RE 7. It is still the case here. You also find Mia, previously his companion, now his wife. And you meet up with Chris Redfield, one of the few characters to survive the show’s “relaunch”.
When you launch your first game, the game offers you from the start a small summary of the events of Resident Evil 7 so you don’t get lost along the way and give you some important script details to follow the common thread of this new episode and understand the few minutes that open the game. You don’t have to watch this summary.
Little reminder : Ethan Winters is an American engineer whose fiancée, Mia, had disappeared. Three years after his disappearance, he receives a cryptic message which leads Ethan to go to Dulvey, in the heart of Bayou, Louisiana. There, unfortunately, he will meet the Baker family and Evelyne, a young girl who turns out to be a terrifying genetic weapon. After creating a serum to save Mia, Ethan neutralizes Evelyne with the help of Chris Redfield, who has become a member of a new organization called Blue Umbrella.
And that’s exactly the same Chris Redfield you find at the start of Resident Evil Village. Three years have passed since Ethan and Mia fled the Baker’s plantation. They have a little girl called Pink to whom Mia tells strange tales. And, during an evening that promises to be calm, Chris Redfield arrives with several soldiers to kill Mia (all for that …), kidnap Rose and kidnap Ethan. The one is taken to Romania, in the region of Transylvania. But his transport meets an unexpected: Ethan wakes up in the snow, in the middle of the forest.
The first hour of the game is strangely quiet. From the moment you leave the transport to go to the “village” you will not meet anyone. You will catch some shadows of course, fleeting and inhumanly swift. But until the moment you meet the first inhabitant of the village, you’ll be pretty lonely after all. But that obviously won’t last.
A village where it is good to live … and die
From the outset, there is a feeling of déjà vu in RE Village. And it’s not just because the subjective view is operated here again. The first few minutes in the Romanian forest clearly bring us back to the first steps in the bayou, Louisiana. And the exploration phases in the village are also reminiscent of the great escapades on the Baker’s plantation. However, this new Resident Evil tries to stand out in several ways, especially in terms of gameplay.
A gameplay that on the one hand gives pride of place to exploration thanks to a larger and richer open era, but which on the other hand also wants to be more nervous, more action oriented. Indeed, your survival in the village will depend less on your ability to go unnoticed in the eyes of enemies (even if this can sometimes still be the case) than on your propensity to make your arsenal speak. A well-placed headshot, this is your best asset!
This slight modification of the gameplay in favor of thefrantic action and not frompsychological oppression has a consequence: the game is more accessible. Sure, he’s still scary, but he’s also easier to approach. This is also noticeable in the new way of managing your inventory. This is divided into two: a part for the equipment (weapons, ammunition and remedies) and a part for crafts (herb and powder). The first is limited, while the second is not.
This new inventory management meets three needs. Facilitate the gameplay. Avoid round trips that break the rhythm of the narration. And try to go unnoticedabsence of inventory vaults, historical prerogative of the series. “Everything is lost my good lady!” Without a safe, you will therefore have to carefully choose the weapons you will take with you. And there are a lot of them in the Village. Bladed weapons. Handguns. Long range weapons. Motorized weapons. Etc.
Who says Resident Evil, also says exploration (to find weapons and items necessary for your survival), but also puzzles, with a few items to collect to pick locks, operate wells, open gates and uncover back doors. As in Resident Evil 7, the puzzles aren’t complex (especially if you’ve played Resident Evil before). And they are not intended to be.
There is a certain richness in this Resident Evil. First, a wealth in the bestiary. You must face the four guardians of the village, including the very great lady Dimitrescu. Each of them offers their own bestiary, from the vampire to the lycanthrope, passing by the newts. Very classic watches, taken from popular folklore. This bestiary is also enriched with wild beasts that you can hunt.
A hunt that is important, since by bringing the fruit of your labor to a certain Duke, you will be able to cook your food and make your character stronger. And that is relatively new in a Resident Evil. Another utility of the Duke, he will sell you useful items for crafting, as well as improvements for your inventory. This is not trivial either in the series.
If you are not reassured by the action aspect and prefer to focus on storytelling and puzzles, the game offers you three difficulty levels: easy, normal and difficult. Thus, there is something for everyone, even seasoned players.
Also note for the latter the return of Mercenaries mode which allows you to play short games to complete objectives. Here, the Duke is obviously present. It allows you to buy weapons and equipment, but also improve weapons. In addition, in this mode, you get skills that allow you to improve your stats: faster running speed, better aim, more damage at range, etc. The game is also rich in content. And there is no doubt that he will get richer with DLC.
The more beautiful it is, the more horrible it is!
Before talking more specifically about the graphics, a small remark. Our Resident Evil Village test is based on the next-gen version of the game. And more precisely on the version Xbox Series X. Part of the test was carried out on a Full HD screen and another part on a 4K screen in order to compare the rendering. And we cannot recommend you enough to play a 4K TV.
At the heart of the graphics of Resident Evil Village, you will of course find RE Engine, the 3D engine developed by Capcom for Resident Evil 7. It is an engine that you know well now, since it is also used for Devil May Cry 5, the remakes of RE2 and RE3, or for Monster Hunter Rise, released recently on Switch. This engine shows here its true potential. And luckily, will you tell us: Village is the first next-gen game developed with the engine.
We admire the efforts made here by Capcom. Realism environments and structures. Their variety of course, from a sparse forest to a gothic village, past dark mines and a dismal castle. The evolution of the decorations in real time according to the scenario and the needs (special mention to the cabinets to block the passage). Dust effects (when you shoot a bag of flour, for example, to blind enemies).
Other details caught our attention. Light effects improved thanks to ray-tracing (to be activated in the game settings) and shadows calculated in real time. The background blur (which can be removed to gain visibility), especially in the wheat field on the outskirts of the village. Very interesting water effects. Note that the bloodshed may be unrealistic. But what would a horror game be without this hemoglobin extravaganza?
Like other Resident Evils (including RE 7), Village offers superb detailed settings, but sometimes lacks the realism of the characters. And more precisely on the movements of the hands, the naturalness of the hair and the skin texture. Comparing with other games, the rendering of living characters sometimes looks like a wax statue. Which is not necessarily a bad thing: it responds well to the style of the game.
We haven’t played the PS4 or Xbox One version of RE Village. So we can’t compare the graphics enhancement offered to next-gen gamers. It is certainly visible. But we can’t help but ask ourselves a question: Wouldn’t RE Village have become even more realistic in some details if it had only been developed for PS5 and Xbox Series X? An example: the wood of crates that you can break to collect objects seems a little stiff to us when it falls to the ground. We obviously nitpick.
This is it, this is it, this is the… demon salsa!
The sound environment largely respects the codes of horror and terror. You hear the sound of your footsteps and your breath. You perceive the creaks and friction emitted by your environment. You will often even have the impression that the monsters are yelling at you very realistically. What distracts you regularly. And turn up your
If the realism of the sound effects is up to the challenge, we also note that the music is relatively absent. Whether in the different houses to visit, in the village, the surrounding fields or in the forest of course, it contributes to the atmosphere, as if the world were holding their breath when you explore a narrow passage, illuminated by your faithful lamp. torch. As if the game wants to hear you breathe…
Like Resident Evil 7, the game offers several languages for full dubbing, of which in French Of course. The most interesting is clearly the English dub, a point you could make for all Resident Evil, from the remake of the first to the last episode. We tried the Japanese dubbing, but it seems out of step with the nationality of the protagonists. Note that the French dubbing is of very good quality, but we prefer the English dub (possibly with subtitles if you’re not comfortable) … because it’s always classier to dub into English.
Resident Evil Village is an episode that tries to be daring while wanting to take advantage of the excellent feedback obtained by its predecessor. He wants to be more accessible, or even “general public”, even if it remains reserved for an adult and informed public. Whether it is on the few touch-ups on the gameplay, on the management of the equipment or on the difficulty levels. He also wants to be more complete, with new game modes, lots of weapons, a large playing field and a wide variety of prey, from monsters to cooking animals. Very beautiful and horrible at the same time at the visual level, this new Resident Evil is a good vintage, even if some will always regret this one-sided passage to the first-person view.