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Resident Evil 8: Village Review – A Winters Wonderland

When Capcom released Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in 2017, they decided to take the Resident Evil series in a brand-new direction; a new game engine, new characters, new enemies, first-person perspective, and even a VR mode. This year, they have built on those foundations with the release of Resident Evil 8: Village.

Following the events of Resi 7, protagonist Ethan Winters, who has been moved to eastern Europe with his wife Mia by the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA) returns as the main character. After an eventful opening scene, Ethan is on a rescue mission to find his daughter Rose, who has been captured by a crazed “family” in an infected village full of Lycans (a.k.a werewolves). The main antagonists are known as the Four Lords: Alcina Demitrescu, Karl Heisenberg, Salvatore Moreau, and Donna Beneviento. This gruesome foursome are led by the maniacal and mystical Mother Miranda.

The plot starts off fast and heavy and trundles along at a decent pace throughout the 10+ hours of gameplay. That is until the final act of the story, which really ramps up the pace with all sorts of twists and turns aplenty. Some of the revelations given towards the end do explain a few curious incidents which occurred in Resi 7 and puts a bow on things regarding the world and its origins.

In terms of gameplay, Resident Evil 8 returns to the first-person view that we experienced in Resi 7, however this time there are a few added features such as a crafting system and an eco-system through the function of “The Duke” – Resident Evil 8’s answer to Resident Evil 4’s merchant.

The Duke appears at various save rooms throughout the game. He enables you to buy and sell items accordingly such as ammo, health, gun upgrades and attachments, and even meals. The player has to gather ingredients for specific recipes in order to receive character upgrades such as faster-running speed, better shielding strength, and greater health upgrades.

Resident Evil 8’s main enemies are the aforementioned Lycans. These enemies are fast, aggressive, and in your face, which really suits the FPS aspect of the game. It brings an intensity to the action as opposed to what zombies would have. They climb up buildings, they burst through gaps in the walls. They are a nightmare, especially at the beginning of the game. Other enemy types involve a lot of mini-bosses and variations of werewolves, some of them ridiculously huge. The game equips Ethan with a lot of firepower throughout the game to combat these enemies. All of your typical Resi weapons are here, including the shotgun, magnum, and grenade launcher. These weapons can be upgraded using The Duke and some well-earned Lei currency.

Playing on Standard Mode, it takes quite a lot of ammo to put the enemies down, and once they are down, they leave behind objects such as currency or treasures à la Resident Evil 4. This is a departure from recent Resident Evil titles, which went back to the traditional item boxes and item placement throughout the world.

Resident Evil 8 is quite an action-orientated game. There are even segments that resemble a Call of Duty title! However, there are sections of the game that take a departure from the action and focus on heavy atmosphere and psychological horror. Castle Demitrescu resembles the police precinct of Resi 2 and Baker House of Resi 7. The psychological horror part of the game resembles P.T. However, Resident Evil 8 mostly resembles Resi 4; style, tone, gameplay, and setting. It is obvious that Capcom wanted to go down that route again. (They even planned to re-hash Ada swooping into the village to investigate, which later got scrapped).

Another true Resident Evil game mechanic is the puzzles, which return again. However, much like recent puzzles in the likes of Resi 2 and 3 remakes, some of them are ridiculously easy. Some of the clues are so on the nose that it renders the puzzle to be rather pointless. A lot of the puzzles have literally got the answers plastered up on the walls within the same room!

Resident Evil 8 makes use of Sony’s PlayStation 5 DualSense controller, incorporating the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback of the pad when using guns. The heavier the gun, the more resistance is given by the DualSense. It is a nice feature to have, but Capcom’s use of it pales in comparison to Sony’s Astrobot’s Playroom game.

Resident Evil 8 looks stunning on the 9th generation consoles. Capcom now has given users the option to enable ray tracing, which enhances lighting and reflections. HDR is also an option within the game menus, which makes the colors in this game pop in certain areas. Typically, these areas would be in Castle Demitrescu with torches on the walls lighting up the dark rooms, or caves and mines being lit up from outside light, pouring through the windows and gaps in the walls. Capcom has also cleverly used particle effects to build atmosphere, such as dust falling through the cracks in the ceiling, or dense fog and snow. All of this comes in 60 FPS on the PS5. The RE Engine definitely continues to impress but does not come without its faults.

There are a few instances when the frame rate dipped a bit. This usually happened during the use of a lift, where the game is probably loading up the next upcoming area. There are also times when textures look really low res, particularly up close in first person.

In the East of the village, where the first Lycan attack takes place, there are some horrific-looking textures within a later section of the game. (Click here to see a raw capture of this). This was an issue with Resi 7, but not to this degree. There were also a few instances of some clipping (see here), and also some obvious texture and asset pop-in. It is apparent that the RE Engine is best suited for Third Person titles, once you see these issues up close in First Person.

The sound in Resident Evil 8 is tremendous. Capcom continues to use great environmental sound effects to build proper tension and atmosphere within the world. Simple psychological tricks such as creaking floorboards, footsteps, Ethan’s panicky breathing, and snarling and grunting enemies really do help build tension and intimidation for the player.

Guns really pack a punch, and the enemies sound absolutely vicious and terrifying. Some of their roars they bellow out are chill-inducing at times. In true Resi fashion, some of the voice acting is a bit corny. Ethan is as lame and naïve as before, but the 4 Lords all talk as if they are in a Christmas pantomime.

There was a glitch that I experienced during my playthrough where Ethan’s voice completely dropped out. I quit the game and reloaded and it still persisted. I had to resort to restarting my PS5 to rectify this issue.

Resident Evil 8: Village is another worthy entrant to the RE series. The villains have a decent backstory (especially Mother Miranda), and there are quite a few memorable twists that Resi fans will discuss for some time. Ethan Winters continues to be a bit of a bland character. Although he gives Die Hard’s John McClane a run for his money for cheating death, he doesn’t even have an ounce of McClane’s personality to accompany him. Some of the situations Ethan ends up in, including his enemies, are at times just downright outlandish (even for a Resi game!).

At times the game doesn’t know what it wants to be. Does it want to be an atmospheric psychological horror? Or does it want to be a run-and-gun Call of Duty Zombie Horde mode? It actually tries to do all of the above and somewhat manages to do it successfully. Your potential enjoyment of the game really all depends on your approach to it before you start playing. If you are looking for an out-and-out Outlast-style game with sheer horror, then you could be left somewhat disappointed. Approach Resident Evil 8 as an action/adventure game with some horror segments, then you will be more satisfied with the experience.

If Resi 4 and Resi 7 had a child together (looking at you Rose Winters), then they would give birth to Resident Evil 8. The tone, mechanics, setting, and enemy types, mixed with the first-person perspective and the RE Engine. Fans of both of those previously mentioned titles will love Resident Evil 8: Village.

This review was written based on a digital review copy of Resident Evil 8: Village for the PlayStation 5 provided by Capcom.

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