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Resident Evil Village review: A spooky thrill-ride too focused on action

Resident Evil Village screenshot
Posted at 12:42 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 12:53:28-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — RATING: 7/10

The latest entry in the Resident Evil franchise is a gruesome, stomach-churning thrill ride that straps you in from the beginning and never lets up. Like any amusement park, the best parts of Resident Evil Village (RE8) are the moments I am still thinking about, even if some of the rides would be better served for a different audience.

Like any great horror game, the best moments of Resident Evil Village are the ones that got my adrenaline pumping. In this game, those moments include a nine-foot-tall vampire woman chasing me throughout a spooky castle, walking into a room of twitching toy dolls, and encountering displaced mannequin parts hanging from a ceiling.

These encounters caused more than one audible reaction when playing on my couch, often making me question what is coming next. The game is entirely in first-person, which only enhances that fear. Capcom’s ability to create scary scenarios this many games in is awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, these well-crafted spooks are only half the experience that is RE8.

The rest of Resident Evil Village consists of loud, bombastic set pieces that are akin to the more action-focussed entries in the series. While these moments are impressive visually, especially during boss battles, they cause the game to lose focus of its momentum and overall story structure.

RE8’s shooting mechanics are solid, but taking on the game’s werewolf-like creatures never felt scary - it just became a chore and an annoyance. The one saving grace of the action is fiddling around with the game’s inventory system, a welcoming copy/paste of Resident Evil 4’s weapon management.

From a story angle, Resident Evil Village is a bit of a head-scratcher. Three years after the events of Resident Evil 7, returning protagonist Ethan Winters must save his daughter from a mysterious village in Romania run by mutant lords.

As the story unfolds, I felt like I needed a flow chart to help everything make sense, and by the time the credits rolled, I had to Google what exactly went down. I won’t spoil it, but perhaps you should digest your food before discovering what it takes to save Ethan’s daughter.

Resident Evil Village screenshot

Like the best Resident Evil games, RE8’s environments are fascinating to explore. From the haunting Castle Dimitrescu to the labyrinthian Heisenberg’s Factory, the eerie nature of the game’s entire map is one of the game’s best traits.

It’s a shame there isn’t a mode to walk around and explore each building without the stress of an enemy attacking at any moment. Although, after the campaign ends, there are still plenty of areas to unlock and visit, providing enough replay value.

Resident Evil Village screenshot

Resident Evil Village is at its scariest during its most claustrophobic moments. The feeling of being trapped with no way out while a grotesque enemy looms near is something few horror games can compete with.

However, when the game resorts to a more action-oriented approach, it loses quite a bit of the tension it so expertly builds. If you’re looking for a quick spook or two, RE8 is worth a shot, but do not expect this entry to be as nightmarish as other games in the storied franchise.

Review code provided by the publisher

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Joey Greaber at KGUN first reported this story.