Ethan Winters: The man with the worst luck in the entire world. Following the murder of his wife, Mia, and the disappearance of his daughter Rose, Resident Evil Village's protagonist hits the ground running in the most terrible way imaginable. Waking up following an accident in a strange village, Ethan quickly finds out that there is more than what meets the eye in this town of horrors. We recently had a chance to sit down with the game to play out the first part of the latest tale from Capcom, and it didn't take long before we realized that there is so much more going on in this village than what meets the eye.
I sat down for a new preview session with just over an hour from the first part of the game. The follow-up of Resident Evil 7 begins with a disoriented Ethan waking up, bloodied and confused. With the quest of finding his daughter at the forefront of his mind, it doesn't take him long to get started on his journey and into the mouth of Hell.
From previous trailers of Resident Evil Village, we already know about the Big Tall Vampire Lady, Lady Dimitrescu, and the return of Lycans. Still, the beginning of Capcom's latest survival horror title quickly proves that there is more to this seemingly supernatural hangout than we know. As Ethan makes his way into this seemingly deserted village, the danger that lurks beneath is abundantly clear. Despite being absolutely terrified to explore the desolate houses seen in his path, that's exactly what we did to see firsthand how combat feels when unraveling this new mystery.
The game mechanics are pleasantly familiar, making it easy to fall right back into the experience as a longtime Resident Evil fan. Uncovering make-do weapons, finding medicinal herbs to craft additional aid, and uncovering religious artifacts that help put together a picture of what's really going on in this new area all make up a familiar experience for those intimate with the franchise. Finding lockpicks, interacting with various aspects of each discoverable house, and continuing on the snow-laden paths eventually lead to discovering the first survivor that Ethan comes in contact with. With this introduction, Ethan is immediately thrown into a tango with Lycans.
When exploring the village, each bloodied home that stands as a horrific reminder that its days of peace are long gone, and that nostalgic feeling of abject terror that this series is known for was very much front and center. I found myself both dreading and eagerly anticipating what comes next each time I heard a floorboard creak, every footstep that sounded far too loud in my ears, and feeling terrified to embarrassing degrees every time I saw Ethan approach a new door slathered in blood. It's easy to see that this game is not going to have an underlayer of hope. Even the smallest glimmer of light is quickly snuffed out as our protagonist uncovers the mystery of Mother Miranda, the religious figurehead of this small town that appears to have turned on her flock, and he ultimately battles through Lycans to come face to face with new horrors. Disfigured beasts, haunting dolls come to life, and vampire-like creatures all make up a cacophony of horrors until the big moment finally arrives: coming face to face with Lady Dimitrescu herself within her castle.
Just like with the demo, walking through the halls of her fortress is enough to make me want to throw on cartoons from childhood's past and call it a day. And just like the demo, her daughters bring a psychopathic edge that takes the suspense of Village and ramps it up to 11. Despite the uncomfortable revelation of what a massive wimp I really am, every corner housed beautiful artistry and graphics rooted in realism to make this experience breathtakingly immersive. That level of realism lends itself to a world that made me want to explore every inch, despite common sense telling me that is a horrible decision to make.
Like with any Resident Evil game, the monsters that go bump in the night are a byproduct of the Umbrella Corporation. With Chris Redfield previously seen with a blue Umbrella logo (meant to indicate a "fresh start" on the road to penance for the company's past crimes with the T-virus) and back for a confrontation with Ethan, it's clear that this religious microcosm is the Umbrella's influence. Who is Mother Miranda, and where does her power over these incredible enemies comes from? Why did Chris kill Mia, and what exactly is the bigger picture surrounding himself and our own Ethan? Resident Evil Village is poised to answer these questions and supply us with a billion others when the eighth game in the franchise arrives on May 7, 2021.
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Interested in learning more about Resident Evil Village? Check out our exclusive game hub here, filled with first looks with video, interviews with the dev team, and so much more as part of our most recent cover story. Feel free to also weigh in with your own theories in the comment section below about Mother Miranda and this cursed Eastern Europe village.