Resident Evil Village, the eighth main entry in the iconic video game franchise, is scheduled to hit stores on May 7th, 2021. In April, fans got their hands on two gameplay demos, locked to 30-minute timers.
One of the demos takes place in the opening village, and the other in Castle Dimitrescu. These are some impressions of the castle portion of the demo.
The environmental detail is elegant, with refined textures and dynamic lighting that create a glossy, eerie atmosphere. The variety of (excellently modeled) gaudy furniture is impressive. Those chandeliers really do something to the hairs on the back of my neck. The sound is dynamic and spacious, too, selling the scale of the castle. The play-style in the castle is undoubtedly more claustrophobic with lots of crawl spaces, and it seems to be more puzzle-based.
In the village, I felt no real threat from the Lycan enemy-types. I could move freely. Also, Lycans die when you shoot them, unlike Lady Dimitrescu and her daughters, Bela, Cassandra, and Daniela, turning into swarms of insects and cornering you in the castle’s tight corridors. Lady Dimitrescu has mechanical similarities to Mr. X from the Resident Evil 2 Remake. They both enter doors with shared bully energy.
The game uses its linear design moments to set up some masterfully scripted sequences. We’re introduced to The Duke, who offers up some mild direction but serves primarily as this game’s version of the Resident Evil 4 Merchant. He’s not as cool as The Merchant, but he’s got some lively characterization. The store UI is also classic, clean to look through.
I’ve always liked the ideas of labs under the mansion in the first Resident Evil. The sciency bio-weapon aspects of the horror gave the absurdity some grounding. Resident Evil Village, however, is very committed to fantasy/folklore elements. The lower levels of this castle seem to be grimy cellars packed with slow-moving, sickle-wielding ghouls. These hooded creatures crawl out from every crevice in the brick, and I believe there’s a winged variant in a later stage of the game.
The running joke of players actually wanting to be chased by Tall Vampire Lady and her daughters comes from a real place. They are the most personable in a long list of Resident Evil enemies who relentlessly pursue the protagonist, and they have especially playful dialogue. The daughters talking about “devouring man-flesh,” or Lady Dimitrescu calling Ethan “a silly man thing” is a little more light femdom than survival horror — BUT make no mistake, when they do catch you, they will f**k up your life (not in the sexy way, well–).
The castle demo is an expansion of the play from the Maidens demo earlier this year, revealing more of the castle and a bit more interaction with the enemies. Resident Evil Village is teasing a grand scope. Outside of Lady Dimitrescu’s castle and the opening village, there is still Karl Heisenberg’s factory, which seems to borrow from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as did Resident Evil 7. Heisenberg, who was initially rumored to be the return of fan-favorite Luis Sera from Resident Evil 4, is actually one of The Four Lords governing the land under big bad (?) Mother Miranda. He seems responsible for the Lycans, who ride horses and shoot bows at some point in the game. He also might transform into a hulking Resident Evil 5 executioner-type Lycan himself. Then there are The Lords we still have limited information on; the fishy House Moreau, and perhaps most creepy, House Beneviento, represented by an upsetting talking puppet.
Check out Rohil’s thoughts on the opening village portion of the demo here.