Resident Evil Village, the eighth main game entry in the franchise, is gearing up for release on May 7th, 2021.
In April, journalists and gamers got access to two more demos, each locked to a 30-minute timer. One of the demos takes place in the opening village, and the other in Castle Dimitrescu.
Starting with the village gameplay, we immediately get a sense of the ritualistic elements embedded in the culture. Carved colored doors, shrines, and intricately patterned cloths. The inhabitants are beholden to a seraphim figure, Mother Miranda, and her Four Lords that govern the land. The environmental detail is rich, with dynamic lighting and textures that inspire an inquisitive mind. The depth is also handled well. Distance is believable and used to create a daunting atmosphere… It had me thinking, “Oh, we’re headed to that big ass castle down there… this is about to be an entire ordeal.”
It isn’t long before the first encounter. Resident Evil Village is borrowing a lot from fantasy/folklore, so our starter/grunt zombies take the form of Lycans. They’re not terrifying, but the AI is engaging. The Lycans can bust through player-made barricades and climb buildings, adding some awesome verticality to the fights. There are memorable moments of elevation in the play. The tall grass also adds a level of tension, sort of like that scene in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, where the raptors use the coverage of the grass to pack-hunt.
In the closing moments of this demo, we meet the few remaining traumatized inhabitants, and there’s a prayer scene. Writing prayers is more challenging than you might expect. You’re borrowing from existing belief systems but not too much as to offend unintentionally, and the choice of words has to hit just right so the villagers’ faith is believable.
It’s tough to block out the Resident Evil 4 vibes during this chunk of the play, and there is footage of a 2-story barn fight, serving a lot of the same energy from the iconic RE4 cabin fight with Luis Sera. This village-setting playthrough is noticeably less tense than the Maidens demo earlier this year. Protagonist Ethan Winters plays a little more competently. There is a distinct feeling that he’s more up for a fight, which is narratively consistent, seeing that he made it through Resident Evil 7 — but also, we get a shotgun fairly early on in the playthrough. Ethan’s delivery is a tad cheeseball again, but that’s how I like my Resident Evil.
Check out Rohil’s thoughts on the Castle Dimitrescu portion of the demo here.