Resident Evil 8: Village- Lycan It or Leave It

  • There's no denying how unbelievably impressive Resident Evil 8: Village can be at times. Seethed as it is in the crimson nightmares that often define the Resident Evil series, Village spares no expense in dousing the player in all its chilling dread, whether through its screen-consuming boss fights featuring disgusting leviathan-sized mutated beasts, or when you’re being relentlessly stalked by its host of depraved fiends, Village revels in its ability to make players unnerved.

    Many times Village manages to twist the claret-soaked knife of utter malice and grotesqueness into the players’ experience, that it does truly make itself appear as one hell of Resi experience as well as a truly enrapturing one. But as much as Village does so very well, it can feel like an entry that goes through the cliff notes of Resident Evil, defining itself in the flesh of its predecessors without harnessing the ability to shed new skin. Therein lies the real contentious issue, is Resident Evil 8 truly a remarkable step forward for the franchise, or is it too engrossed in its legacy to be a worthy numbered entry in the Resi canon?

    Let’s start with our protagonist Ethan Winters. Now Winters has been dragged into a metric ton of malevolence, having contended with the disgusting habits of the Baker household and its family of psychotic bat-shit stained lunatics. Therefore it’s easy to sympathise with a man who’s survived the dank depths of depravity. However, in Village Ethan is quite the simpleton and a dullard, expressing himself predictably with a state of shock, constantly murmuring “what the hell” aand“why the hell” to such extent that the writing seems laced with swears and poor writing. I know Ethan is simply an everyman dragged into a nightmare that doesn't seem to end and he's on a personal quest to save his daughter, but that doesn't mean he has to act like a helpless schmuck. The characters in Resi have been questionable in the past, but Ethan is rather bland and nothing about him makes him stand out and his clueless and buffoonish outbursts exemplify that. You'd think he would've gotten used to the direness of his situation in RE7 but it looks like he's learned nothing in Village.

    Further confounding the issues in Village is that it reminds us of previous Resident Evil games than truly standing on its own merits. The interiors of Castle Dimitrescu look lovely and lavish, full of golden décor and ornate furnishings, a far cry from the gloom-cloaked exteriors as the fog wraps around the castle, adorning it with a particular cloaking of unease. There is a general reminder of the Wesker mansion of RE1 and its foreboding and haunting insides, but with added attention paid to the bleakness of viewing the castle from the outside.

    Meanwhile, boss battles and The Duke pose reminders of Resident Evil 4, though the intensity and thrills of fighting the former offset the callbacks more often than not. The return of Mercenaries and an early desperation-inducing part of the story share similarities to Resi 5 as well, though admittedly Village does a fantastic job of making players uncomfortable and desperate.

    When you peel back the well-fortified layers of Village, you will no doubt see there is plenty to be totally enamoured with as you tread along the desolation of a village blood-streaked in snow, and are up to your neck fending off ferocious lycans and thunderous hammer-wielding beasts. Resident Evil games have usually done a stellar job of consuming you with terror and dread by giving you a threadbare arsenal, but just enough to scrape by encounters as though you're really scrapping, scratching and scraping for your survival, and Village doesn't disassociate itself from this, which is a very good thing. So long as the Resident Evil series continues to produce the unbridled dread and horror that the series built its name on, the better for all of us.

    Village does at times seem to inundated with previous Resident Evil games that it doesn't show enough of what makes itself a new and exciting entry. Village maximises many of the series' core strengths and does its best to freak you out and surprise you but there doesn't appear to be a new foundation laid here, even if it is an unprecedented challenge to follow up on the reinventions RE7 made. Taken how it is, Village will please just about every Resident Evil fan in some way, but it doesn't do quite enough to establish its own foothold and more often uses its predecessors for leverage.