|Resident Evil Village|
|Release||May 7, 2021|
Resident Evil Village[a] is a survival horror game developed and published by Capcom. The sequel to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017), players control Ethan Winters, who is searching for his kidnapped daughter; after a fateful encounter with Chris Redfield, he finds himself in a village filled with mutant creatures. While Village maintains the Resident Evil series' survival horror elements, the game adopts a more action-oriented gameplay style compared to its predecessor.
Resident Evil Village also includes an online multiplayer mode. The game was announced at the PlayStation 5 reveal event in June 2020 and was released on May 7, 2021, for Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Stadia. Resident Evil Village received generally favorable reviews, being praised for its gameplay, setting, and variety, although it received criticism for its puzzles and boss battles. The game's increased focus on action over its predecessor received more mixed opinions.
Like its predecessor, Resident Evil 7, Resident Evil Village uses a first-person perspective. It is set in a snowy explorable Eastern European village. The inventory management mechanic is very similar to that of Resident Evil 4, featuring a briefcase and the ability to move and rotate items for better storage space. Players can buy supplies, weapons, items from a merchant, called the Duke. The players can also hunt animals in the village and have them cooked into dishes by the Duke. Eating side dishes allows the player to gain certain advantages such as decreasing the damage taken while blocking. Players can manually save the game progress by locating and using typewriters, which replaces the tape recorders seen in Resident Evil 7.
The Mercenaries Mode also makes a returning appearance in Village. Like its previous Resident Evil entries, it is an arcade-style game mode.
Resident Evil Village is set three years after the events of Resident Evil 7. Ethan Winters returns as the protagonist. Ethan has been living with his wife Mia and 6-month-old daughter Rosemary when Chris Redfield and his men suddenly appear, murder his wife in cold blood, and kidnap him and his baby daughter, bringing them to a mysterious European village. Ethan has to traverse the village to rescue Rosemary. The village is invaded by werewolf-like mutants called Lycans and governed by four different mutant lords, each controlling their own forces from strongholds within the village. Lady Alcina Dimitrescu,[b] an unusually tall vampiric aristocrat, resides at Castle Dimitrescu with her three daughters Bela, Cassandra, and Daniela, and mutated female attendants. The hallucination-inducing and ghost-like Donna Beneviento rules from her mansion, House Beneviento, and acts through her puppet Angie. The grotesque Salvatore Moreau operates from a reservoir in close proximity to the village and is described as a "merman". Karl Heisenberg, who can manipulate magnetic fields, leads a group of Soldat simulacra from a contemporary factory. All houses respond to a supreme leader figure called Mother Miranda, the ruler of the village who is a "presence worshipped by the villagers."
Three years after the events in Dulvey, Ethan and Mia have been relocated to Europe by Chris Redfield to start a new life with their newborn daughter Rosemary. One night, Redfield and his Hound Wolf squad raid the house, assassinate Mia, and abduct Ethan and Rosemary. Ethan awakens next to the crashed transport truck they were riding in and reaches a nearby village terrorized by werewolf-like creatures known as Lycans. Ethan is unable to save the remaining villagers and is captured and brought before the village priest Mother Miranda and her lords: Alcina Dimitrescu, Donna Beneviento, Salvatore Moreau, and Karl Heisenberg. Ethan escapes a death trap made by Heisenberg and ventures into Dimitrescu's castle to find Rosemary, with the support of a local merchant known as the Duke. Ethan eliminates Dimitrescu and her daughters, finding a flask containing Rosemary's head. The Duke explains that Miranda placed Rosemary's body parts in four different flasks for a special ritual and that she can be restored if Ethan recovers the other flasks held by the remaining lords.
While killing Beneviento and Moreau for their flasks, Ethan learns Hound Wolf is also in the village. Ethan passes a test from Heisenberg for the fourth flask and is invited to the lord's factory where Heisenberg offers a proposal to defeat Miranda together. Ethan refuses once he learns Heisenberg intends to weaponize Rosemary and escapes. Ethan encounters and confronts Chris over Mia's death, learning the "Mia" Chris killed was Miranda in disguise. Chris reveals that Miranda possesses the power of mimicry and was attempting to abduct Rosemary, succeeding when she crashed the transport truck. Chris destroys Heisenberg's factory while Ethan uses a makeshift tank to defeat Heisenberg. Miranda confronts Ethan and kills him after she reveals her plans to take Rosemary as her own.
Witnessing Ethan's death, Chris leads Hound Wolf to extract Rosemary while a Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA) assault force distracts Miranda. Chris enters a cave beneath the village and discovers a Megamycete (called the "fungal root" (菌根, kin ne) and the "Black God" (黒き神, kuroki kami) in the Japanese game), the source of the mold. He plants a bomb on the Megamycete and finds Miranda's lab, learning that she has lived a century since coming into contact with the Megamycete and was a mentor to the Umbrella Corporation's founder Oswell E. Spencer; Oswell used her knowledge to eventually develop the t-Virus. Miranda experimented with the fungus in an attempt to revive her daughter, Eva, who had succumbed to the Spanish flu, the four lords, Lycans, and Eveline being failed experiments. Miranda found a suitable host with Rosemary due to her special abilities inherited from Ethan and Mia. Chris also rescues the imprisoned Mia, learning that Ethan is still alive when Mia reveals her husband's powers.
Ethan revives after encountering Eveline in limbo who reveals that he was killed in his first encounter with Jack Baker in Dulvey, but was revived by her mold which gave him regenerative powers. The Duke brings Ethan to the ritual site where Miranda is attempting to revive Eva, but only succeeds in reviving Rosemary. An enraged Miranda battles Ethan, who kills her, before the Megamycete emerges from the ground. Ethan, his body deteriorating from his regenerative powers having reached their limit, sacrifices himself to detonate the bomb planted on the Megamycete, while Chris transports Mia and Rosemary to safety. As Mia mourns the loss of Ethan, Chris discovers that the BSAA soldiers sent to the village were organic bioweapons and orders his squad to head for the BSAA's European headquarters.
In a post-credits scene, a teenage Rosemary visits Ethan's grave before being called away for a mission on behalf of an undisclosed organization. As she and her escort drive off into the distance, an unknown figure is seen approaching their vehicle.
Resident Evil Village had been in development for approximately three and a half years prior to its announcement in June 2020. Capcom had asked the Resident Evil team to start development of the next game on August 8, 2016, while Resident Evil 7 was still about a half a year out from release, according to director Morimasa Sato. Without having RE7's release to judge its success, the team kept the initial designs around the core survival horror gameplay roots that had been in Resident Evil 4 (RE4) and had been a return to form in RE7. During this early period they came up with the concept of the titular village as the central theme of the game, inspired by RE4 where its village was also a central location as well as many of the gameplay mechanics established by the title. The team used RE4's approach to create "a balance of combat, exploration, and puzzle solving". Sato said that for the new game, "we're bringing the essence of Resident Evil 4, while Resident Evil 7 functions as the base for the game".
RE7 was released in January 2017 and was well received by critics and players, so then the team decided to make the next game a direct sequel to RE7, keeping its protagonist Ethan Winters as the main character and retaining the same style of gameplay. According to producer Tsuyoshi Kanda, this also helped to complete Ethan's story that was left open in RE7. The team had become attached to his character, and worked to devise a story for him with the other Resident Evil teams within Capcom.
As they continued to develop the village, Sato said they wanted to give players more freedom toward solving problems, and make it "a horror movie that you can play". Kanda said that like with RE4, they were able to incorporate a wide variety of different themes of horror within the village, leading Capcom to describe the village as "a theme park of horror". Further, in contrast to past Resident Evil games that generally have been linear progressions, the team created a more open world-style village, with optional and secret areas to explore, designed to reward the player for exploration. The game's main story remained in a pre-set order that the team felt best for how the player should experience it. Sato also stated that the village's snowy weather was inspired by the team's trip to Europe for research for the game, where they were met by an "unseasonable cold snap, the scenery was covered in snow. This inspired us to implement snowscapes into our game. We use snow not just for visual presentation, but as gameplay elements as well.” While it is recognized by Capcom as the eighth main game in the series, and its logo stylized to include the Roman numeral "VIII" for 8, the producers stylized the title to emphasise on the "village" aspect rather than the "8". In a Famitsu interview, producers Kanda and Peter Fabiano said that they considered the village a character, and wanted to reflect that in the stylization of the title so that players would remember it. Development on the game was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan, at one point bringing the development process to a halt for a month.
—Morimasa Sato, Resident Evil Village: Meet Lady Dimitrescu's three daughters.
Like RE7, Village was developed with the RE Engine. According to art director Tomonori Takano, the developmental team drew inspiration from Resident Evil 4 as they wanted to have memorable characters populating the titular village in the game. Takano said the developers wanted to continue the same approach that started with Resident Evil 7 in that they wanted to move away from simply using elements like zombies to scare players but created unique situations and characters that would create fear in new ways. Capcom had considered populating the game's castle and village with hundreds of witches but found this difficult to conceptualize into a video game. The team decided to switch directions from witches to vampires for Lady Dimitrescu and her daughters, albeit avoiding stereotypical tropes of vampires in popular culture. Castle Dimitrescu was also inspired by Peles Castle in Romania.
The other three Houses in the villages drew from other classic gothic horror themes of werewolves, mermen, and ghosts for Heisenberg, Moreau, and Beneviento, respectively. Karl Heisenberg is characterized as an engineer with an extravagant dress sense inspired by men's fashion from the 1960s; his base of operations is not covered in snow unlike the other lords', likely due to the lower altitude of its location. Salvatore Moreau was conceived as "the most repulsive character on Earth"; his domain was originally inspired by a frozen lake the team sighted during a research trip in Eastern Europe. House Beneviento furthered some of the ideas that the team had used in Resident Evil 7, with Sato noting that the fully veiled Donna Beneviento and her puppet Angie are considered to be the scariest of the four lords by his American colleagues, even though the team approached Angie's design with an instant impact in mind rather than being purely frightening. For major antagonist Mother Miranda, Takano stated that crows were the primary motif of her design, noting them being symbolic in the game's village, as well as functioning as an overarching design theme for the game.
To promote the game, Capcom announced that a special lottery event will be held to give away a free Resident Evil Village acrylic jigsaw puzzle if Twitter users use the hashtag #VILLAGE予約. Lady Dimitrescu, a character who rose in popularity prior to the game's release, is featured extensively in promotional material and merchandise prior to the game's launch. On April 30, 2021, a puppet show featuring the four lords was released on YouTube, with each puppet claiming that they are not scary.
Maiden, the first of two demos, was released exclusively for the PlayStation 5 on January 21, 2021. For PS4 and PS5 users, an early access demo Village was released on April 15, 2021. It allowed players 30 minutes to explore the village and was playable only once and live for 8 hours. The Castle demo was released for PlayStation early access users on April 24, 2021. It allowed players to explore the castle for 30 minutes, it was also playable once and live for 8 hours. A multi-platform demo released on May 1, 2021 for all platforms. It allows players to explore both the Village and Castle for 60 minutes and it would be live for a 7-day period.
In Japan, the game will be released in two versions to comply with local regulations, a CERO Z version that is legally restricted to ages 18 and up, and a CERO D version with less violence that is available to ages 17 and up with no legal restrictions. Both versions will contain less violence than the international releases.
On May 11, 2021, Capcom released a video that showed a behind-the-scenes on their YouTube channel on working on the game's theme song, "Village of Shadows".
Several critics noted the more action-centered gameplay in comparison to Resident Evil 7 and compared the switch in direction to that of Resident Evil 4. Phil Hornshaw of GameSpot wrote that while he felt Resident Evil 7 leaned towards the "dark and creepy haunted house" setting akin to Resident Evil, Village took cues from the "faster, panickier" Resident Evil 4. IGN's Tristan Ogilvie saw the game as successfully taking the best elements of the action from Resident Evil 4 and combining it with Resident Evil 7's "more modern form". Hornshaw praised the new direction taken by the game, feeling its notable departure from Resident Evil 7 was what made it work as a sequel and opined that the game provided an excellent balance of action and scares. Conversely, Leon Hurley of GameRadar was critical of the new approach, calling it a shame that the title was "one of the 'not a horror game' Resident Evils" and concluded that whilst the game was fun, it had undone the work of Resident Evil 7 in redefining the series. Later sections of the game were compared, positively and negatively, to the first-person shooter series Call of Duty for its heavy action. Ogilvie praised the final chapters for their "chaotic levels of carnage" that reminded him of a run-and-gun Call of Duty campaign, whereas both Hornshaw and Hurley criticised the game for being too action heavy towards the end, negatively comparing it to Call of Duty and "the worst action-heavy portions" of Resident Evil 6.
Critics praised the variety of gameplay throughout each section of the game. Hornshaw commended the diversity of horror ideas, finding it impressive how skilfully the game switched from one to another, and called each area "fun, intense, and, naturally, frightening in its own way." Hurley praised the sections in the first half of the game as "full of atmosphere and intrigue as you explore", giving particular praise to the second area visited for being "one of the best horror moments I've played in a long time", but thought that the latter half of the game felt average which was only made more glaring by the game's greater parts. Despite this, he opined that the shifting of ideas throughout the game created excitement for what was coming next. Ogilvie noted the changes in gameplay for each section, with one catered towards stealth, while another leaned towards psychological horror over combat. He also praised the increased variety of enemies compared to Resident Evil 7, saying that it added "depth and decision making" to crafting, forcing the player to decide which items would have the most effect on certain enemies. The more open-world style of exploration was also well received by critics. Hurley wrote that Resident Evil Village was the first time the series had experimented with open-world, and that a lot of his time was spent exploring and retreading areas with new skills and discovering new surprises. Ogilvie concurred, writing that exploring the village itself as the game's central aspect helped distinguish it from previous installments and felt rewarding from unlocking new paths and secrets, further augmented by the inclusion of a merchant character which motivates the player to explore in search of items to trade.
Common weaknesses of the game were considered to be its boss fights and puzzles. Hurley thought that the quality of the puzzles was "consistently low", in particular criticizing an example in which a map is given to find a locked door that the player passes previously in the game, and another that had the solution next to it. Ogilvie similarly criticised the puzzles, saying that the solutions were either "exceedingly straightforward" or spoiled by instructional notes left nearby. Hornshaw noted the movement system was unchanged from Resident Evil 7 and as a result felt "a little slow and clunky"; they opined it was better suited when surrounded by enemies rather than during boss battles. Hurley similarly thought that boss fights did not feel designed for first-person combat because of the slower movement, and that dodging attacks in large open spaces meant the player was often forced to move the boss out of their field of view. Ogilvie found that many of the battles fell "surprisingly short" and amounted to little more than dodging and shooting an enemy's weak points, noting that he would have preferred them to be more engaging and "epic-sized". The game's narrative also faced mild criticism, with Hornshaw writing that it wasn't one of the best Resident Evil stories and was disappointed it did not resolve all of the plot threads from Resident Evil 7 or sufficiently tie the games into the series at large. Hurley also opined that the pacing of the story was "inconsistent" and that due to how much time the player spent exploring, key story sections could either feel "weirdly short, or artificially extended." On the other hand, Ogilvie praised the story as "a compelling mystery that hooked me throughout my 10-hour playthrough."
The arcade mode "The Mercenaries", which is unlocked on completion of the main game, was praised by Hornshaw for "demonstrat[ing] how tight the combat in Village can be" and for being fun in its own right. Ogilvie also praised the mode as "addictive" and "the most valuable bonus to unlock".
Resident Evil Village shipped over three million copies in its first four days of release, becoming the third fastest-selling title in the Resident Evil series, tied with 2019's Resident Evil 2. At the same time, Capcom announced the series had sold a total of 100 million units since its debut in 1996.
From May 3 to May 9, 2021, Famitsu rated the PlayStation 4 version at first place in the Japanese gaming charts, selling 111,171 copies in a week. The PlayStation 5 version sold 38,713 copies, reaching fourth place in the charts.
Shortly after release, film director Richard Raaphorst accused Capcom of plagiarism, citing close similarities between scenes and creatures that featured in his film Frankenstein's Army and seen in Resident Evil Village.
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