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Resident Evil Village review: a delightfully devilish horrorshow

Resident Evil Village is our RadioTimes.com Game of the Week.

Resident Evil Village review
4.0 out of 5 star rating

The Resident Evil Village release date is here, with Capcom’s eighth mainline Resi game launching today on most of the major platforms – PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC. And we’re here to tell you that it’s a delightfully devilish experience that’s well worth your time and attention.

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In fact, Resident Evil Village is so good that we’ve chosen it as this week’s RadioTimes.com Game of the Week – it’s the one new release that you really should play this week, as long as you can handle the scares. And don’t worry if you haven’t played the previous seven games in the franchise, because there’s an option to watch a handy recap of the relevant bits right at the start of Resident Evil Village.

To be honest, though, context isn’t too important here – Resident Evil Village’s story does follow on from Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, but you could also jump into Village as a standalone story in its own right. You play as Ethan Winters, the returning protagonist from Resi 7, who seems to have his life in order. Ethan and Mia have a baby now, and they’ve settled into a nice quiet life in Europe. That is, until some familiar soldiers show up on their doorstep and make off with their baby, Rose.

Where to buy Resident Evil Village:

This incident goes unexplained for most of the game, but it serves the purpose of sending Ethan off on a mission to rescue his daughter and get some revenge. He soon finds himself in the eponymous village, a fictional Eastern European locale ruled over by four creepy characters and their leader. Fans have already gotten a good glimpse at one of those four – the incredibly tall vampire, Lady Dimitrescu, who quickly became a fan favourite thanks to her towering appearance in the game’s Maiden demo.

What may come as a surprise is the fact that Lady Dimitrescu is actually a fairly small piece of the overall story. The segment that takes place in her castle is great, with sinister forces hot on your heels as your try to solve various puzzles and make good your escape. If you enjoyed the Police Station escape from 2019’s Resident Evil 2 Remake, you’ll probably love Castle Dimitrescu for similar reasons.

But Capcom isn’t here to rest on its laurels. Instead of just serving up one creepy house, this time the developers have made an entire village (hence the title). As you hunt down the gaggle of baddies at the game’s heart, you’ll find yourself thrown into all manner of creepy corners and forced to think/fight your way out of them. It’s a winning expansion of what this franchise can do, but it also manages to stay true to the spirit of Resi.

Much has been made of the fact that this is a more action-oriented Resi game, and we’re pleased to report that the gameplay is generally very enjoyable. There are heaps of weapons to unlock and plenty of tense action set-pieces to work your way through. The shooting itself is well done, and there are loads of ways to upgrade your arsenal this time. The only real disappointment is the boss battles, which often feel like a bit of an anticlimax. The journey is better than the destination.

For all of the talk about action, though, it’s also worth mentioning that you will need brains as well as bullets to succeed. There are loads of puzzles dotted around, and there are lots of trinkets, keys and special items that you’ll need to track down in order to progress. There’s a satisfying loop to the fact that, each time you return to the village itself after a boss battle, you’ll find yourself able to access new areas and uncover further secrets.

It’s the best of both worlds, really. If you get your thrills from action beats, you won’t be disappointed (the sheer number of giant creatures you have to face off with is impressive, as is the variety of ways in which you defeat them). But if you prefer the exploration and discovery side of Resi, that hasn’t been lost here. Inventory management is still important, too, but luckily you get more storage space to work with this time, and certain items get their own sections – so you won’t need to worry about throwing away a piece of lucrative treasure because you need to house more bullets.

Resident Evil Village gameplay
Resident Evil Village gameplay isn’t just about combat.
Capcom

We reviewed the PS5 version of Resident Evil Village, and it did feel like a properly next-gen game. The loading times are minimal, even when you get killed and have to reload a previous save. The sound design is excellent, particularly when you play with headphones and can hear every footstep of the monsters that are hunting you. Said monsters also look great, with werewolf-like Lycans thrown into this mix this time, which makes a nice change from zombies.

The graphics are stunning across the board, in fact, with the spire-adorned castles brought to life in really memorable ways. And great things are done with lighting, too, so make sure you pay attention when you’re setting up your brightness options at the start. Together with the graphics and the sound design, the lighting (or lack of it) really helps to ramp up the tension as more horrors reveal themselves.

In terms of scariness, there is a really nice mix here. You do get the odd jump-scare, but you also get creeping dread throughout, and there are also some properly unsettling ideas executed to their fullest potential. All in all, it’s a total horrorshow, and one that we’d really recommend. You won’t regret it!

Play our previous Game of the Week picks:

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