"Ethan, no." ―Chris Redfield
It's been quite some time since we were dining upon a splendid assortment of innards at the wonderfully decorated Baker Estate with our bayou buddies! But alas! here we are again, in yet another village; one of a familiar feel, but this time much chillier. Off in the distance lies a gorgeous piece of gothic architecture, with all its intricacies, erect and curvy—oh, and a castle, there is also a castle. There is no shortage of memes depicting the gorgeous architecture in many forms and we're going to "D"ive right in.
1. ETHAN NO, BAD ETHAN.
It should come to no surprise that dialogue and voice talent aren't really a strong suit of previous RE titles, but man, Ethan takes the cake. The dude fell out of the 'dad joke' tree and missed every branch. It's a shame too, because most everyone else performs well in their roles (I'll get into Heisenberg later.) From his lame deliveries, to his underwhelming, non-existent quips, he just doesn't feel like his 'heart is into it.'
On the flip side of the 'rusty coin' is Karl H. That's right, Karl...Kaaarrl. Mr. Heisenberg is a great looking character but when he first opens his mouth—sounds like discount Nicolas Cage; not what was expected. Maybe that's a good thing and I'm just too cliche about raspy-voiced dudes.
Finally, I cannot mention the dialogue writing without slight. Chris' second sentence to Ethan in the game is literally like talking to a bad dog who made on the carpet floor; "Ethan, no." Bad Ethan, we do that outside!
2. STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS ONE...
What do you get if RE4, RE7, and Bloodborne have a baby? While it sounds like I might be upset about this comparison, nothing could be more far from the truth; I love this aesthetic. Gothic European horror filled with castles and a creepy village are the perfect setting for a Resident Evil game. This game, just like the last entry, is beautiful—even more so. From the elegant golden halls of Castle Dimitriscu, to the hair on the big bad wolfies, you can't help but take it all in like The Duke's cooking. Did you know that there are more polygons in Lady Ds hindquarters than in the entirety of Resident Evil on PS1?! Neither did I. The immaculate detail in the world is wonderful, the textures pop and seems to have weight. All of the character models are wonderful, even though Rose is kind of a potato baby, she's cute in her own way.
Where I am on the fence, is the whole Lycan thing. I think it works... But I am still on the fence as to it feeling like a Resident Evil game since they also included vampire ladies. I've made up my mind—count this all as a plus for taking a new approach to the monsters of the franchise. It was risky, but I think it works.
The gameplay is a Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V of RE7 ramped up thanks to the newly appreciated (and much needed) running speed—seems Ethan has been doing some cardio—which won't really matter in the end. Hint: he get's the Mortal Kombat treatment from Mother Miranda.
3. TAKING A DUKE
While he is not as memorable and affordable as RE4's Merchant, The Duke brings a sincere warmth to a rather cold tale. This roughly 600-lb (I'm guessing) sex machine of a man—along with a magical carriage that can carry his stature—has a decent variation of overpriced wares. And when I say overpriced, I mean damn, over-fucking-priced. This dude clearly likes his coin and breaks no sweat paying a good amount for treasure either. At first you think you are taking the dude and all his coin until the moment comes when you realize you need upgrades; it is you who will be taken.
4. JUST 'IN CASE'
Love it or hate it, it's back! RE4s attache has made a return. Personally, I find this a plus as I preferred the RE method fo limiting space, but it doesn't really feel limiting. You gain the expansions super quickly and never have to worry about what you are picking up thus defeating the purpose of this brand of inventory system. The expansions are huge and even the beginning case is quite massive; probably as big as the second expansion in RE4 (perhaps bigger.) There is no justified reason in reusing this case system if you aren't going to force the player into inventory management in order to survive. Might as well not even worry about having this brand of inventory system.
5. A DINNER DATE FOR... 4 PLEASE.
We've all seen the trailers, the memes... Lady D and her 'Gorgeous 3' as I like to call them. This was the main selling point of the game, sexy vampire ladies that want a piece of your man-meat. No not that, well... Maybe? Here is the problem I have with the Dimitriscu ladies: they are not scary in any shape or form. That's not true, Lady D's final form is quite grotesque but that fight is in broad daylight! Since when did a horror game 'feel' horrifying in broad daylight? I'm trying to remember but come up short—unlike Lady D of who is 9 freaking feet tall. I found myself not worried when I ran into any 'creatures' of the castle for they were just as excited to see me as I them; coupled with their 'sounds' made when sucking my man-blood; it doesn't make a great case to worry about being caught, or wanting to be. Overall, this game is not scary, just ask the thirsty internet.
6. ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS
I may be the only one who thinks this, but the map of the village portion of the game is quite unreliable for a couple of reasons: 1) Roads are blocked off that appear unobstructed and 2) A window or hole in wall that connects West Village to East Village is no where marked on the map such as most doors and windows. Combine these two elements with locked doors, fence gates that never open, and piles of junk in the corners, and you can find yourself going nuts trying to figure out where the hell you are to proceed (more on that topic in no. 6.) On a more positive note, the art looks beautiful and stylized in a European fashion which really keeps the immersion alive.
7. LOCKED, LOCKED, OPEN
If you have played this game you have most likely said these three words to yourself: locked, locked, again locked, open! Any RE fan will tell you that this is normal, but not like this. Exploration in this game feels snuffed. I dare say, that this title is the most linear of the main series (I said main, so that doesn't include the on-rails shooter. Umbrella Chronicles.) Normally, you make some wrong turns, remember key elements and backtrack, Metroidvania style, to an area with a new crank, key, or herbicide—not here. Other than the factory of Mr. Heisenberg, the rest of the game leads you with little breadcrumbs from one area to the next. Don't get me wrong, they're tasty breadcrumbs, but breadcrumbs nonetheless. I'd rather find the loaf myself.
8. I PLAY FOR THE PLOT
Finally, the story, it's actually not that bad. I've never felt connected to a characters motive more than I have in Village. Perhaps it's just because I am a newly first time father who understands the desire to protect your baby girl at all costs, but I understood Ethan's goals and the connection was immediate. I have never been more disturbed in my life from a video game, yes you heard that right, the non-scary game has its moments of 'true' horror. I am of course talking about House Beneviento, the puppet lady. In her basement... It's there. It's loud, it's sad, it breaks your heart, and it's horrifying. What have I become? The answer is a dad, any dad will find that depressing basement chilling, and rank with melancholic repulsion.
In the end, it really does take a village to raise a child—or reassemble her corpse for that matter. The game isn't perfect but it's fun, reeks of damp, dark atmosphere, and has quite the replay-ability. Sure it's not the best in the series, but it certainly is nowhere near the worst (cough—RE6—cough.) S-sorry, I got to do something about that cough; must've been spending too much time in the Dimitriscu dungeon. I'd definitely give this game a try but be warned, it sort of feels like it's slipping back into an action title, hopefully it does not take a village of developers to realize that they need not repeat mistakes of the past (cough—RE6—cough.) Damn! this cold.
Resident Evil Village shall receive...