I’ve heard rumblings in the Resident Evil community that turning the series into a veritable smorgasbord of horror genres really wouldn’t be a bad thing at all, especially after the recent remakes have pretty much, taken zombies as far as they can go (for a second time in the series’ history). It seems, much like after the original trilogy-and-change, Capcom is once again ready to take players to a rustic, Gothic European village in order to spook them in different ways than with the walking dead.
This news is, frankly, fantastic. After the somewhat disappointing reception to Resident Evil 3 earlier this year, returning focus to the continuation of mainline Resident Evil was a must for Capcom. A malaise for too many remakes from fans, even if Code:Veronica definitely deserves one, was certainly in the cards. Enter Resident Evil: Village, then, to seemingly rip up some of the rulebooks and show off yet another enticing, thrilling deviation from fan expectation.
It might just be because it’s set in a mysterious village again, but comparisons to Resident Evil 4 don’t appear to be massively wide off the mark. Again, it looks like the player will be causing consternation with some grumpy locals, but there’s clearly more to them than what’s on the surface. It seems that the titular village is home to a big ol’ bunch of Werewolves, possibly at the mercy of what looks like the return of the Las Plagas infection. Werewolves in a Resident Evil game. Awesome. What’s more, a screenshot put out after the fact by Capcom shows the game’s currency will be Lei – that of Romania, home to Transylvania. Werewolves… and vampires in a Resident Evil game? More awesome.
Even during the initial, inexplicably 1080p-locked, PlayStation 5 reveal stream, it was clear that Resident Evil: Village was a real looker of a game. We can never be truly sure just from looking at compressed footage on YouTube, but it’s evident that Capcom are taking the RE Engine to new heights on next gen hardware. The trailer clearly wanted to show off some impressive lighting effects with glistening snow, flickering torches and, ahem, the hazy sunlight reflecting off the blood of a horse corpse. The money shot at the end of the trailer that sees the camera pull right out to an establishing shot of the eponymous village was pretty spectacular – seeing this running on the new hardware through a 4K TV is going to be special, no doubt.
We aren’t privy to too much story, but the trailer certainly seemed to have quite a major story moment revealed at the end. A post on the PlayStation blog explains how the story features the continuation of Resident Evil 7 protagonist Ethan Winters’ narrative. The video starts off with his wife Mia (confirming her survival being the canon ending of RE7) reading a story, before things turn rather sour. In the trailer’s final moments, Chris Redfield really does appear to be executing Mia, which is further hinted at in the blog as it mentions ‘a chain of events that sees a distraught Ethan seeking answers to Chris’s shocking actions… and ultimately finding him in a mysterious village.’
I mentioned only some of the rule book being ripped up, because the inventory system is another RE4 callback; the rotating block puzzle organization system is something I am fully ready to become OCD over again. It’s almost funny that a developer even needs to mention something normally as throwaway as an inventory system at this early stage, but such is its intrinsic importance to the history of Resident Evil that it’s clear Capcom always need to make sure their loyal target audience are shown to be catered for.
Alarm bells could start ringing at the developer’s mention of ‘upping the ante’ in the action stakes for Resident Evil: Village. While the series has arguably taken this notion too far in previous numbered entries (you know the ones I mean), this move is likely twofold. The success of the recent remakes of RE2 and RE3 in mixing action with horror without sacrificing one for the other (too much) has shown they’re more than capable of keeping a lid on themselves going full on gun-fest any time soon. In contrast, Capcom largely eschewed action for large parts of RE7 as it tried to blend in more with the zeitgeist’s helpless, hidey horror style. It’s not unrealistic to assume that Ethan will be more at ease with the notion of fighting back this time around, so get ready to go werewolf huntin’ – I, for one, cannot wait.