Resident Evil Village’s Lady Dimitrescu touts an alluring smirk amplified by bright red lipstick. She sports a white dress that matches her pale skin and a large brim hat. The towering vampire noble will gladly laugh before driving her long fingernails through a victim’s skull.
With such an extravagant appearance and terrifying aura, it’s no wonder the elegant tyrant garnered so much fanfare. Though Lady Dimitrescu became a major marketing feature for Village, the survival horror game has much more to offer.
For one, it comes off the heels of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, an entry that brought the series back to its horror roots. Many gamers will recognize the large form of Jack Baker, who terrorizes Ethan by ramming through walls and surviving near-fatal encounters. This relentless pursuit and the horrifying first-person gameplay cemented Biohazard as one of the best Resident Evil games in recent years. With that said, Village’s intriguing setting and strong usage of audio-visual cues may be enough to surpass it.
It takes Ethan to a run-down village in Europe that appears reminiscent of Resident Evil 4 and introduces new supernatural creatures. In the previews shown to date, we’ve seen vampires skulking about a castle and massive werewolves wielding large metal hammers. Everything we’ve seen of Village looks promising, including the short PlayStation 5 gameplay demo, which spotlighted new enemy types and the impressive RE Engine.
Suffice to say, Village has the ingredients to surpass its largely successful predecessor. These possible gameplay updates and story progressions may elevate Village far beyond the heights of Resident Evil 7.
5. The Beautifully Haunting Setting
Whereas Biohazard took place in a dilapidated Louisiana estate, this new game sends Ethan to a haunting village that has seen better days. Hooded scarecrows watch over snow-covered ground and crumbling wooden cabins. The rows of crops and naked trees dance in the wind as grey clouds clutter the sky.
The deep roars of ravenous werewolves boom from the tall crops as the slobbering creatures scutter in the distance. Once one has Ethan in their sights, it will hunt him down with intimidating speed and vigor. These imposing enemies fit in perfectly with Village’s rustic setting.
Then there’s the matter of the large castle looming over the village, serving as a purposeful contrast to the rural terrain surrounding it. The castle’s interior is notably resplendent with gold plated furniture, ornate chandeliers, and sprawling staircases. In typical Resident Evil fashion, various hidden passageways and a damp underground dungeon are hidden under the castle’s roof.
Both of these settings are more enticing than the limited Louisiana estate. They grant Resident Evil Village room to explore a wider range of environments spread across what might be one of the series’ creepier settings.
4. Resident Evil 4 Inspired Concepts
Resident Evil fans may have surmised that Village is heavily inspired by Resident Evil 4. The franchise’s fourth entry introduced the over-the-shoulder third-person shooting mechanic that now serves as a foundational part of modern game design. On top of that, it took the franchise in a more action-oriented direction while maintaining suspense and slow-building tension.
In other words, Resident Evil 4 is without a doubt a good inspiration for a game that centers around a rural village and survival horror concepts. Notably, Village is bringing back the Tetris-influenced inventory system. When Ethan picks up a new gun or herb, he must fit it into his suitcase like a jigsaw puzzle. Fans will be pleased to know that this well-regarded inventory system will be returning after it was simplified for Biohazard.
Furthermore, the Resident Evil 4-style merchant is back. The Duke is a boisterous man who sets up shop in helpful locations across the map. Here, players can sell and buy items, adding depth to the inventory management system. Besides being a nostalgic inclusion for Resident Evil 4 players, this should give players more opportunity to free up space or buy essential items.
3. Expand the Escape Rooms
In escape rooms, a group of friends uncover hidden keys through a series of convoluted puzzles. They demand precise communication and teamwork from participants, making it all the more satisfying to escape. Biohazard took this concept to a dark extreme, wherein failure resulted in death by fire rather than just a pat on the back.
In one scene Lucas Baker, a member of Biohazard’s murderous Baker family, traps Ethan in a complicated “party room.” Ethan must escape by completing various tasks such as revealing door codes, lighting a candle, and inserting the candle into an explosive birthday cake. The process was appropriately difficult and stressful without feeling unfair.
The “party room” accomplished Resident Evil’s goal of blending horror-inducing situations with well-designed puzzles. The escape room concept should be iterated upon for Village to create a compelling, nerve-racking set-piece. After all, it doesn’t seem out of left field for Lady Dimitrescu to lock Ethan behind the cold steel bars of her underground dungeon.
2. The Return of Fan-Favorite Characters
Resident Evil has introduced players to numerous bulky men and adept women wielding grenade launchers. Though these characters have reappeared throughout the years and have their fans, Biohazard chose instead to divorce itself from Resident Evil’s most famous faces.
Ethan was a new character, as was his wife Mia who was key to much of the plot’s progression. As we’ll discuss later, these characters weren’t exactly the standouts of Biohazard. It’s our hope that Chris Redfield, returning after a minor appearance in Biohazard, will lend charisma and energy to the rest of the cast.
Based on the existing information, it appears Chris is being set up to serve as an interesting foil for Ethan. The trailers indicate that Chris will cause Ethan great anguish by murdering someone, now confirmed to be Mia, in front of him. Coupled with the implication that Chris is involved in the kidnapping of Ethan’s daughter Rose, this points to an ongoing conflict between the pair. This interesting dynamic between the two characters would be all the more compelling if it also coincided with the return of other series mainstays.
For instance, Chris showing up means that Jill Valentine might not be far behind. We haven’t seen Valentine since Resident Evil 5, so a surprise appearance would please long-time fans, especially since Chris and Jill’s stories are closely connected. The return of these characters would connect Village to the wider universe while adding some much-needed personality into the story.
1. A Focus On Ethan’s Development
One downside of the first-person perspective is a lack of definition to the protagonist. In a third-person game, we get to see their facial expressions and analyze their movements. The idea is that including these details will endear players to the protagonist, a bond which is harder to create in a first-person view. Most of the time, a first-person perspective puts the player in the protagonist’s shoes but treats the character as a simple vehicle for gameplay.
Ethan falls into this camp, rarely showing any diverse emotions or significant development. With Chris thrown into the mix, we hope Ethan can bounce off the character and start to establish a unique voice of his own.
Additionally, we expect Village’s storylines to have a notable impact on his character. Besides Ethan’s quest bringing him to the attention of Lady Dimitrescu, the most recent trailer ends with various characters chanting Ethan’s name. This seems to suggest that the once lackluster character may be the plot’s centerpiece, instead of a simple vessel for gameplay.
We suspect that Ethan will die or encounter some major character ramifications. It’s plausible that he could mutate into a werewolf and hunt down the new playable character: Chris. A moment like this would immediately surpass Biohazard’s storyline, which was notable for lacking such bold and provocative character development.