Resident Evil Village PS5 Review – Resident Evil Village is more than just a game that comes out the year of the claret-splattering series’ 25th anniversary. It’s a title that celebrates everything we have come to expect from the franchise over the past two-and-a-half decades; its various design idiosyncrasies (hooray, the typewriters are back!), its penchant for gore and the macabre, its memorable pacing and top-notch atmospheric values, and a cast of eclectic, deranged villains that make Pennywise the Dancing Clown look like the perfect party guest.
It also happens to be one of the most bonkers Resident Evil games you’ll ever play, marrying the semi-plausible sci-fi trappings of yesteryear with a bombastic, overblown plot that has the franchise straddling the line between authentic lore building and warped fan fiction.
But honestly, Resident Evil 4 had bloody great trolls and Resident Evil 5 saw Chris Redfield duffing up a massive boulder. As far as I’m concerned, Capcom has already blistered past the realms of plausibility, so I’m embracing its daftness. And you should too.
Resident Evil Village PS5 Review
A Winter’s Tale
Picking up a few years after the events of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Village reunites players with faceless protagonist Ethan Winters and his wife, Mia, as they are living seemingly happy lives with their newborn baby, Rose. Things are shattered when Chris Redfield and his armed grunts turn up at their home, dispatching of Mia in cold blood and pinching baby Rose in the process.
Without spoiling anything, Ethan ends up in the game’s titular village, disoriented and completely clueless but determined to find answers and rescue Rose.
Right away, it’s apparent just how gorgeous Resident Evil Village is in terms of art direction. The environments are sumptuously realised, from the snow-coated shacks of the village to the gothic-soaked Castle Dimitrescu that looms in the distance, its dark towers piercing the gloomy skies. This is then accented by the malodorous sludge that infests the dilapidated windmills around the local reservoir.
The village itself acts as a central hub for Ethan’s exploits and is a place you will frequent as you gather more items and unlock new pathways. Indeed, it’s this methodical, Metroidvania-style progression that is the beating heart of Resident Evil Village’s core gameplay and is definitely more in line with the classic games than the likes of Resident Evil 4 and 5, which dropped this in favour of more linear trappings.
With that in mind, then, Village should fit snugly into the palms of anyone who played Resident Evil Remake or Resident Evil 7. What Capcom has done here, however, is give players far more incentive to explore off the beaten path. Yes, the core loop has you going from A to B, but there’s plenty of hidden ammo, valuables (more on that later), and collectibles if you choose to indulge.
Village is definitely Ethan’s story as opposed to Chris’, and while a bit of a blank slate in the previous game, Capcom has done a much better job at humanising him. I actually found myself feeling sorry for the poor bloke at times, despite not really resonating with the character in Resident Evil 7.
He’s not the best lead in the series, but he’s a step above his former incarnation. It also helps the acting is pretty solid; Lady Dimitriscu and the fellow Village Lords deserve particular praise. The plot itself, like its predecessor, is more of a self-contained affair but still relishes in doffing its cap to past titles; Resident Evil aficionados will nod sagely at the little touches sprinkled throughout.
It’s packed with interesting twists and turns, and while I was left a bit incredulous at the occasional daftness of it all, the narrative is definitely worth sticking with. Quite where the series will go after this is a bit unclear, but there’s a satisfying conclusion in-store that definitely left me itching for more.
A Compelling Blend Of Action And Exploration
Resident Evil Village is expertly paced. There’s a superb balance between fighting, puzzle-solving, and exploring, with none of these three pillars overstaying its welcome. The castle in particular is a highlight, with tension-dripping moments punctuated by heart-pounding action as you fend off zombie-like creatures all while avoiding the towering Lady Dimitriscu.
Indeed, Village isn’t one to get complacent and is just as comfortable mixing it up by lobbing a thirsty creature at you as it is plonking Winters into an intricate puzzle game completely weaponless, armed with only his wits. It’s this ability to chop and change, to subvert your expectations, that I feel allows Village to stand tall on the pantheon of the series’ best moments.
Speaking of which, Village’s cerebral offerings are pretty solid; never overly complex but always inventive, with ample use of backtracking and inventory tinkering to punctuate the rudimentary puzzle & locked doors that post-Resident Evil 4 games loved to fall back on a little too much.
When things do get messy, Village makes an emphatic improvement over Resident Evil 7. The variety of enemies here are among the best in the franchise since the beloved Resident Evil 4, with Lycans looking to satiate their bloodlust by ripping you apart with their bare hands, werewolf-like foes snarling and leaping on powerful hind legs, undead rising from the grave, and lumbering monstrosities that fuse flesh with machinery that require pin-point accuracy to neutralise.
That’s not counting the myriad of behemoths that serve as Village’s boss battles, each one offering a unique challenge and personality that will put your diverse arsenal to fine use. Their designs are also among the most outlandish and grotesque in the franchise to date, and all the better for it.
While some foes are a bit bullet-spongy – shooting specific parts of the body don’t seem to do much at all – most enemies require a bit of strategy to take them down, particularly the bosses, forcing you to adapt to different weapons and indulge in a bit more of a tactical playstyle. It’s refreshing to see and keeps you on your toes.
The merchant system also comes back, this time with the larger-than-life Duke, who is happy to flog you weapons and upgrades in exchange for cold-hard cash.
This is a nice way to personalise your arsenal, although I didn’t see any overwhelming difference between the various handguns and shotguns on offer, even when increasing damage. Heads still popped a bloody spectacle, and the guns still felt the same; although the adaptive triggers of the DualSense definitely help to differentiate between pistols and weighty grenade launchers.
You can also hunt wildlife and bring their meat back to the Duke, who will rustle you up some tasty meals, acting as a way of buffing your stats, such as decreasing guard damage.
Treasures can be sold for currency, giving you plenty of incentive to head off and explore your surroundings. There’s also a palpable feeling when you upgrade your firing speed and reload time, which is what I invested the most in. Everything else felt a little inconsequential; the recipes didn’t make much difference from what I could tell, but I imagine for higher difficulties they will.
Village is at its best when it is keeping you guessing, able to seamlessly transition from weaving a gut-wrenching survival horror experience to lobbing bombast and action-packed segments with aplomb. Whether it’s introducing new enemies or fresh puzzles to tackle, its core loop is varied enough to ensure you never get tired or bogged down by repetition. It excels at quieter moments as it does at going balls-to-the-walls.
Make no mistake; fans of both the slower-paced horror Resident Evil games and the more over-the-top shenanigans of latter instalments will feel more than at home here and it is a testament to Capcom’s ability to amalgamate the best of both worlds into an adventure that not only feels coherent but also satisfying.
A Beautifully Horrific Adventure With A Lot To Offer On PS5
I played Resident Evil Village on PS5, and the game runs smoothly as expected, with no hiccups in frame rate and load times that take mere seconds, even when booting up your save from the main menu.
As mentioned, the game’s environments shine, each one feeling unique in its own right. Castle halls are lavishly decorated with esoteric furnishings, the titular village cultivating a sense of uneasiness in its lonely pathways and ransacked houses, scarecrows watching your every step like silent guardians. Likewise, the lighting effects and intricate shadows are superbly implemented here, helping to accentuate Village’s atmosphere. It really is a gorgeous-looking game in places.
Having said that, Resident Evil 2 Remake still looks every bit as good as Village, but some of the texture work on the characters and locations are conspicuously dodgy in places, reminding you that as solid as it looks on PS5, the series has still yet to fully embrace the power of new consoles.
Resident Evil Village is a chunky adventure in its own right, and with all the added secrets, hidden treasures, optional enemy encounters and files to pick up, it’ll have you plugging away for some time. There’s plenty of incentive to replay the game too due to these aforementioned collectibles, and with a point system similar to Resident Evil 3 Remake, you can unlock figurines, art and infinite weapons on repeated playthroughs.
The Mercenaries mode also makes a comeback, although right now it only seems to offer one playable character in Ethan, so it’s a bit limited. Having said that, blasting enemies with various firearms and nabbing extra time is still as fun as it was back in the original Resident Evil 3, only this time there are multiple stages and ability-boosting capsules to keep things fresh.
PS5 users will get some great use out of the DualSense’s adaptive triggers, adding a punchiness to the firearms you’ll get hold of and giving them a real sense of weight.
Meanwhile, the Activity Cards are pretty handy to give you an idea of how far you are along in a particular setting, and the audio really helps to sell the atmosphere, allowing you to discern everything from distant footsteps to the unearthly grown of some ungodly creature.
A Celebration Of Old And New Ideas
With ample amounts of action and horror woven into one beautifully detailed, spine-chilling adventure, Resident Evil Village is every bit as good as its predecessor and improves on its shortcomings tenfold.
The game also represents what I feel is the end of a concerted effort to shift Resident Evil’s narrative beyond its more grounded, B-movie trappings of old, something which Capcom has been doing for the past few games. As such, some fans will feel it’s a step too far and the plot won’t be to everyone’s cup of tea.
And yet, there’s still enough of the core DNA in there so that it doesn’t lose its identity. This is still quintessentially Resident Evil and one of the biggest, content-rich endeavours the franchise has seen to date. If you’re a fan new or old, Resident Evil Village is one blood-soaked, spine-chilling destination you’ll want to visit.
Resident Evil Village is released for PS5 on May 7, 2021.
PS5 review code provided by publisher.