Lady Dimitrescu, resident of Evil Village, is much more talkative than Mr. X (Photo: Capcom).
GameCentral has over an hour of Resident Evil Village in action, including a fight with a werewolf and more Lady Dimitrescu.
When Resident Evil Village comes out in a few weeks, it will be almost the first major multi-format release of the year. As the impact of the pandemic on the video game industry becomes clearer, games of this magnitude could go unreleased for months or even years, putting even more pressure than usual on the games that made it this far.
On paper, Capcom has shown quite a bit of Resident Evil Village so far: a few trailers, a Maiden demo in January, and a playable demo you could download last weekend if you own a PlayStation. Despite the fact that we only got to see just over an hour of hand-to-hand footage – which we normally get to see when we go off to physical press events – it still shows a different side of the game.
Oddly enough, the PlayStation 5 demo released this weekend contained almost more cutscenes than gameplay, while the handheld demo did the opposite. They were different snippets of gameplay, but they seemed to be in chronological order, starting with the beginning of the game, with Ethan Winter waking up confused in the snow, and his exploration of the title village and Mrs. Dimitrescu’s castle.
The Village is essentially a Resident Evil 8, so the basics of the gameplay, including the first-person view, are very similar to Resident Evil 7. What’s notable about the visuals and playable demo, however, is that the graphics take a remarkable step forward. Filmed on PlayStation 5, not even PC, the gameplay looks fantastically real, with great night scenes that show off the lighting and weather effects to perfection.
The human characters are impressively realistic, and yet the game seems to be able to display multiple characters on screen at once, even during battles. But it starts slow, with Ethan crawling through the village unarmed, looking for any weapon. It’s hard to get intimidated by a game just because you see someone else playing it, which is probably why survival horror is never very popular on Twitch and the like, but you can still feel the tension thanks to the great graphics and sound design.
What exactly is going on in this story remains obscurely unclear, with no mention of the umbrella or any sci-fi element in anything we’ve seen. And instead of a vampire versus werewolf story, it seems they’re both on the same side, and the leader of the werewolves is Lady Dimitrescu’s younger brother. She doesn’t seem to get along with him very well, but in one of the scenes the two meet Miranda’s mysterious mother to discuss what to do with Ethan.
To avoid spoilers, we won’t say what Miranda’s mother looked like, but we strongly suspect that what we saw was not her final form. This suggests a supernatural origin for the event, but we suspect it is some sort of diversionary tactic. At one point, however, the villagers begin to chant a prayer to the Great Beings and talk of endless darkness, suggesting a Lovecraftian influence – and of course there is a hint of blood in the setting.
Resident Evil 4, however, has a much bigger impact, from the basic setup to details like an enemy attack being interrupted by a church bell reminding everyone. Improvised sieges are also part of the game, with the ability to move furniture and barricade doors and windows, which must be particularly excruciating given the limited amount of ammo you have.
There’s also a very suspicious merchant who always seems to be one step ahead of you, and has a few spells up his sleeve when you buy items and upgrade your weapons – but then again, he’s not so stupid as to be ridiculous.
Resident Evil Village – Werewolf bites are actually contagious (Image: Capcom).
The battles in first-person perspective are similar to those in the previous game, where werewolves seem to be the most common enemy – although they appear in various guises, most carry some sort of handgun. You can block and fend off their attacks, but they usually attack in groups. The game encourages you to use stealth and take them out one by one.
There are also bat-like creatures when you enter the castle, and a hooded enemy of sorts, complete with a hunchback and a creepy doll, that appear during a cutscene – and we suspect they’ll likely return as boss enemies. The video also seems to confirm that Ms. Dimitrescu, the equivalent of Mr. X or Nemesis, constantly haunts you in the castle and can suddenly appear at any time, but can never be completely defeated.
We also saw a number of puzzles that, as it should be in Resident Evil, make no sense and are terribly impractical – just the way fans like them. The problem we keep coming back to is something that has bothered us ever since Capcom started remodeling old games: the lack of cheese. Resident Evil 2 picked up on this, at least to some extent, but it also tried to take itself more seriously. However, Resident Evil 3 was devoid of any real humor, intentional or not, and so, among its other shortcomings, it ultimately lacked any real personality.
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The Village is certainly an improvement in this regard, thanks to over-the-top characters like Lady Dimitrescu and her daughters, but there’s nothing so far that seems actively funny. Sometimes the dialogue is still bad: Why does everyone keep dying? At one point, Ethan reflects after a woman falls a gruesome death, but the explanation is completely lactose, and that seems a shame, given how impossible it is to take the game’s plot seriously.
That’s really the only downside we can offer at this point, but given the pedigree of the last few games (Resident Evil 3 was largely developed by a separate studio), we’re confident that Resident Evil Village will be very entertaining. We can’t say if it will be a classic of the franchise or genre, but we’re not ruling anything out at this point.
Formats : Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, PC and Stages
Publisher: Developer Capcom
Release date : 7. May 2021
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