Since Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, the Resident Evil series has seen some welcome changes - most important has been Capcom’s in-house game engine called the RE Engine. It’s also powered other games such as Devil May Cry 5. But it’s highly flexible, has tons of modern graphical features and it’s also incredibly well optimised which means that the games it uses can look stunningly realistic without slowing down.
In Resident Evil Village, you once again play as Ethan Winters and the game serves as a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7. Although at first there will be just a handful of references to the previous games, as you progress through the story some age-old questions and origin theories finally get answered.
The game is played entirely from Ethans perspective, even all of the cut-scenes take place in the first person view. Although technically not a first person shooter, the weapon handling and control is generally very good although I would personally disable any auto-aim snap that the game leaves on by default - as this prevents more tactical play such as shooting weapons out of hands etc.
The graphics are simply stunning, especially on current generation consoles and Ray-Tracing equipped PC’s. There is always so much to see in the majority of the environments which is a huge step-change from precious games in the series where the environments are pretty much corridors or individual rooms. To put things really simply, the Village acts as a sort of hub world where you access other distinct areas of the game. It is reminiscent of games like (weirdly) Super Mario Sunshine where you can see all the levels in the game in the distance if you can get high enough. There are a number of different areas in Village and each requires different tactics in order to proceed - and having played them all I can safely say that everything works extremely well and everything flows.
As this is a Resident Evil game, the creatures are also important to the games success. Thankfully there is more variety than what we saw in 7 including Lycans and Vampires. There are also a handful of mini-boss type enemies which you can either choose to run from or kill for a nice reward. In terms of bosses, they are present and as chatty as ever during the fights.
In terms of sound design, it’s 99% atmosphere and ambience and it all works well. Silence is used appropriately and directional audio similarly. For example footsteps coming from above genuinely sound like they are coming from a different floor, even without a 3D audio solution. Voice acting is incredible across the board, although Ethan is far more cocky this time around. Although that works for his character it removes some of the trepidation from the player (as if he isn’t concerned, we don’t need to be either).
Finally, how long is the game? It’s been floating around that 8 hours is about the right time for a casual play through.... I would be more conservative and say 10-12 hours as there are loads of hidden pickups to collect and other side-offerings to take care of.
Overall, I think this is a great addition to the franchise. It won’t have the impact on the series that 7 did as this is literally an expansion of that game, but it’s an upward trajectory for the series and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!