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Resident Evil 8: Village Review — Werewolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

Does Resident Evil’s return to Europe make for a horrifying experience?

The Resident Evil franchise has mutated more than its nefarious enemies, experimenting with over-the-shoulder third-person remakes, horrifying first-person entries, and even on-rails shooters; however, Capcom has hit new heights with Resident Evil 8: Village, finally embracing what Resident Evil is: a white-knuckle action-horror adventure, blending slow scares with bombastic action, and this is exactly what RE 8 delivers in spades.

World’s most unluckiest hero

The game picks up after the events of Resident Evil 7, with players jumping back into the role of Ethan Winters, a normal everyday-Joe who was swept up in a horrifying event (you know, the crazy stuff that happened in RE 7) a few years earlier. Without giving away too much, his newborn daughter is kidnapped and taken away to a mysterious European village. There, Ethan must find his child while also uncovering why the village and its surrounding areas are plagued with monsters. Intriguing, right? It is. The story itself is very interesting, and while Ethan’s reactions (or rather the voice actor’s reactions) to some pretty jaw-dropping things are a little ‘meh’, the whole thing is a serious rollercoaster that’ll hit all those eyebrow-raising story beats RE has become known for.

And in order to hit those beats, RE 8 is a fair bit more bombastic than RE 7‘s more slow, subtle approach to horror, bringing a little more ‘modern’ Resident Evil flair to the experience. From dashing from house to house in the small village to battling creatures in an underground cavern, there’s a notable nostalgia-flashback to Resident Evil 4. Throw in the fact that the whole adventure has a cold, snowy European backdrop with an admittedly compelling mystery, and RE 8 feels like an injection of new ideas to the beloved yet somewhat familiar franchise formula.

New monster, who dis?

Speaking of fresh ideas, while the Resident Evil series hasn’t ever pigeon-holed itself with one type of enemy, RE 8 moves on from the more routine shambling undead and gooey monsters to vampiric giants and axe-wielding werewolves. It’s a little bit of a jarring change, and the enemies don’t necessarily do anything the franchise’s more iconic zombies wouldn’t, but the refreshing creature designs do make RE 8 feel like it has its own identity within the series.

You also get what people love about the RE games, from both past and more recent releases, jam-packed into one experience. There are ‘stalker’ enemies, like that of Resident Evil 2‘s Mr. X, as the towering Lady Dimitrescu and her daughters hunt you around their castle, but it’s done in a smaller, more self-contained portion, with the game then moving onto more open areas mixed up with set-pieces along the way to keep the game flowing. There’s a little bit of everything, and in the right doses, making for a more dynamic and unpredictable RE adventure.

If it ain’t broke

Of course, in between all the frantic shooting and panicky reloading, you get the tried-and-tested formula of item management, selling gems, buying and upgrading weapons, and everything in between. It’s all managed very well, and you always feel like the odds are weirdly always in your favour, even when you’re running out of ammo and being surrounded by ghouls.

In classic Resident Evil style, puzzles do break up RE 8‘s more action-orientated approach, but they don’t pose too much of a problem to anyone who’s familiar with the usual tricks and brain-teasing shenanigans of the franchise. Some of the puzzle sections are in the most gorgeous of environments too, which is a testament to how good the game’s visuals are. Creatures look and move fantastically, the lighting is stellar, facial animations are uncannily realistic, and while there are a few weird invisible walls, the entire world looks sublime and full of detail.

Verdict

Resident Evil 8: Village might look a little different, but it feels like a ‘greatest hits’ of the Resident Evil franchise, giving you all the little beloved bits and pieces that made the series a household name, while also throwing some serious curveballs in terms of creatures, setting, and tone. It’s a fantastic survival-horror experience that highlights how well the series has evolved over the years.

Resident Evil 8: Village is available on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

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