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Resident Evil VIII Village - title

In a Nutshell


  • Gothic horror atmosphere
  • Dimitrescu Castle
  • Beneviento's House
  • Barricading doorways
  • Level design and pacing


  • Resident Evil 4 influences
  • Set pieces aren't as clever as RE4
  • Economy and level design always favors "fight" over "flight"
  • Dimitrescu Castle is too small and over too quickly
  • Extremely confined boss arenas
  • Unclear about how to use certain inventory items and collectibles
  • Obnoxious pixel-hunting
  • Much of plot feels recycled

Overall Impression : D+
A mismatch of conflicting design philosophies

Resident Evil VIII Village - cover

Developer and Publisher:

PC (via Steam or Google Stadia),
PlayStation 4 < & 5 (via retail disc or PSN download),
XBox One & Series X (via retail disc or XBox Live download).
(< indicates platform I played for review)

MSRP: $60 USD for standard last-gen, $70 USD for next-gen

Original release date:
7 May 2021

action survival horror

single player

Play time:
12 hours

ESRB Rating: M (for Mature 17+) for:
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

Official site:

Village seems to be positioning itself as a sort of "greatest hits" of earlier Resident Evil games. I'm not sure it all comes together as well as Capcom must have hoped it would. Resident Evil VII Biohazard did an excellent job of modernizing the design philosophies of the original Resident Evil game. Map design, inventory and resource constraints, and the "fight or flight" nature of enemy encounters all perfectly re-captured the feel of the original PS1 classics, without all of the clunkiness.

Village maintains the exploratory map design of the original Resident Evil and of Resident Evil VII, but it also tries to port concepts and aesthetics from the Resident Evil 2 remake and from Resident Evil 4. The RE2 stuff fits well enough, but the RE4 influences just don't feel compatible with classic design philosophy.

The setting instantly reminded me of Resident Evil 4.

Clash of philosophies

Right off the bat, the general aesthetic screams "Resident Evil 4". The game begins in a small, rustic, eastern European village at the foot of a gothic castle. Just like in RE4, you're quickly ambushed by the monstrous villagers and have to desperately fight your way out. Resident Evil 4 replaced the traditional zombies of the series with semi-aware "ganados"; Village similarly breaks away from the traditional zombies, but this time, the monsters are werewolves.

Not long into the game, you'll start smashing crates to reveal hidden loot, and pixel-hunting along the walls and ceilings for obnoxious sparkling gems to shoot down and collect. Also just like in Resident Evil 4, you'll routinely get rewards of items and money from defeated enemies. That money and loot is used to buy items or upgrade your equipment at a shop, just like in Resident Evil 4. This is where the game started to break down for me.

Loot, ammo, and cash can be recovered from smashed crates or defeated enemies.

Giving the player rewards of in-game cash for defeating foes (and for wasting bullets to shoot glowing gems off of walls) completely changes the motivations of the player in how we deal with enemies. I'm no longer carefully considering whether to try to sneak past an enemy or run away, nor am I ever firing off a single round at an enemy's knee to stun or cripple it so I can get away without consuming more resources, the way I might in REmake2. Since every defeated foe returns some of the resources that I invest into killing it, there is no "fight or flight"; only "fight". The enemies stop being threatening or frightening, especially on the standard difficulty setting, in which ammunition is readily available and the monsters patiently await their turns to charge and attack.

Even inventory management is mostly thoughtless. The more linear, more action-oriented, and less puzzle-oriented design of the game means that key items and treasures are not put in your limited inventory, and there isn't even a storage box to keep excess weapons or supplies. Only weapons, ammo, and healing items go into your briefcase. Everything else has unlimited storage. Even crafting components have separate, unlimited storage (the only exception being the animals meats needed for the Duke to cook meals -- more on this later).

The only time I was ever out of inventory space was when I tried picking up the sniper rifle, and that was resolved by simply running back through the now-empty hallways of the castle to the Duke to buy a bigger briefcase (which I was easily able to afford to buy with the money earned from killing the enemies that lead up to the sniper rifle). Even when I found alternate versions of my existing weapons, there was no choice about whether to take the new weapon or keep the old one. The new weapon was always strictly superior to the previous one, even after I had upgraded the previous weapon multiple times. I always just sold back the old gun and bought the new one. I don't even think the newer guns took up more inventory space than the older ones. Village never asked me to make tough decisions about what weapons and supplies I wanted to keep with me, or to risk going out into the unknown with limited provisions in order to leave inventory space for picking up valuable resources or key items.

Cash and loot can be spent on weapon upgrades and supplies.

The fact that the game so strongly encourages killing enemies, and it gave me the resources and ability to kill every single one of them, also meant that I would clear areas of enemies and make back-tracking trivial. Having to wander back to the Old Village repeatedly to use the well wheel or hunt chickens gets really stale and tedious after the first couple trips.

Yes, back-tracking could become a tedious part of the original Resident Evil as well. It was one of the biggest gripes that people had with the game, and it was a perfectly valid complaint. But since the original Resident Evil had much stricter limitations of resources and inventory, it was very unlikely that a player would be able to completely clear the mansion of enemies. So back-tracking through zombie-infested hallways wasn't without risk.

The Resident Evil remake further improved upon this design philosophy with the introduction of Crimson Heads. If you killed a zombie but couldn't burn its body, it would resurrect later in the game as an even more dangerous version of itself. The kerosene needed to burn zombie bodies was in much rarer supply than ammunition, and the kerosene itself took up a precious inventory slot. Carrying around that kerosene was burdensome, and even if you did bring it with you everywhere, there wasn't enough kerosene in the entire game to burn every zombie. As such, you have to be very careful about which zombies you engage with, and shooting them once to stun them and run past was transformed into a much more viable strategy.

Backtracking was much more risky and deliberate in REmake because unburnt zombies could
transform into dangerous Crimson Heads, and there wasn't enough kerosene to burn every corpse.

Village lacks all of these design considerations that helped make back-tracking in the original game a part of the strategy. I don't prioritize clearing out frequently-traversed paths of enemies in Village and run past other threats; I just kill everything.

Every problem is solved with a shotgun blast to the face

If Village was going to carry-over this more action-focused design philosophy from Resident Evil 4, then it's a shame that it didn't also carry over more of RE4's clever encounter and set piece design. Part of what made RE4 work well as an action game (because it is not a horror game) is how the set pieces were designed to encourage players to be creative in how we use our resources. Almost every environment had explosives, traps, or other hazards that a perceptive and clever player could use to either kill an enemy or stun the enemy to allow you to finish it off with a knife slash, kick, or stomp. Or at the very least, stun the enemy long enough for the player to line up a head shot and save yourself some ammo. Village just lacks that smart action set piece design that RE4 nailed so well.

I saw a few explosive barrels in the village area at the very start of Village and in some of the later levels, but outside of that, Village isn't littered with explosive barrels, or bear traps, or trip wires, or other environmental hazards that the player has to avoid and/or use to your advantage. There's a few bags of flour scattered around that can be used to blind or disorient enemies, but not much else. Because Village's standard difficulty is so generous with ammunition and inventory space, it was always more efficient and straightforward to just wait for a monster to charge me and then just shoot it, point blank, in the face with a shotgun. Upgrading a weapon's firepower makes it easy to dispatch almost any enemy with minimal resource investment, so that I can collect more money to upgrade the weapon, and further streamline my ability to kill zombies and werewolves. As such, pretty much my entire experience with the game was backpedaling away from the monsters shambling towards me, while I casually fired off headshots until they dropped dead and dissolved into loot drops.

There's enough ammo on standard difficulty to easily kill every enemy.

I think Capcom was trying to give the player the ability to create these RE4-style traps on your own. The game allows the player to find or craft pipe bombs and land mines. But since I never felt strapped for ammunition (except for the last level), I never bothered using these explosives outside of a boss encounter here or there. Also, the pipe bombs are used for certain puzzles and accessing some secret areas, so I avoided using them against enemies so that I would have them on hand in case I came across a wall I wanted to blow up. And the one time I tried using a landmine, the werewolf just lunged over it to attack me without setting it off, so I didn't see it as a reliable tool for the remainder of the game.

The mines and pipe bombs really only became worth using as an offensive tool in the final levels of the game, when I was confronted with armored enemies.

Village lacks the creative level and set piece design of RE4.

Put simply, Resident Evil VII and REmake 2 felt like horror games first and action games second, and were very good in that regard; Resident Evil 4 and now REVillage feel like action games with B-movie horror window dressing. (REmake 3 lies somewhere between those two camps). As much as it pains me to say it, RE4 is a much better action game than Village.

When it works, it works!

To Village's credit though, it does feel much more methodical in its level design and pacing compared to RE4, which helps to maintain an atmosphere of serious tension throughout most of the game, rather than feeling like an overt comedy or parody of itself. Village does know when to slow down. In fact, my favorite level is Beneviento's house, which actually disarms the player at the start and focuses entirely on a lengthy puzzle and non-combat boss encounters that take place in the few rooms and hallways of a single house moderately-sized house. This is where the P.T. influences can be felt most strongly, and Village kind of stumbles into psychological horror territory for about an hour. It's a pale imitator of P.T. (and only moderately effective as psychological horror), but it's the strongest horror set piece that Village has to offer, by far.

The P.T. influences are strong in Beneviento's House.

Castle Dimitrescu is also a good level, and it's too bad that it is over so quickly. Avoiding Lady Dimitrescu's pursuit, only to wander into an ambush from one of her vampress children is a nice little twist to the procedural pursuit concept that was introduced by Jack Baker and Mr. X in REVII and REmake 2 (and which was totally squandered with Nemesis in REmake 3). After it was revealed that the vampires were, in fact, weak to sunlight, I even made a habit of smashing every window that I could in the castle with my knife just to let as much sunlight into the castle as possible, on the off chance that it might help. It didn't, but whatever. The point is that I was engaged enough with the premise of the level to take that extra precaution.

Sadly, Castle Dimitrescu is only the first level of the game, and it's over in about two hours. By the time the tension of the chase began to ratchet up, the level was over, the cat-and-mouse game degraded into a bombastic boss fight, and Lady Dimitrescu was vanquished after only about 3 brief, easily-escapable bits of being stalked. Bummer.

Castle Dimitrescu is only a single level, and ends right when it's starting to get good and tense.

In addition to these two stand-out levels, the overall level and environment design and pacing of Village is pretty good. I wish that the village itself had a couple more shortcuts so that backtracking through it to find collectibles wouldn't be so tedious. There are a few gates or doors that would make for great shortcuts to unlock midway through the game, but they remain locked from both sides for whatever reason. The village is otherwise well put together. The open environment in broad daylight looks good and translates well enough to the horror atmosphere of the early half of the game. Typewriters and the Duke always seemed to show up exactly where I wanted them to. The puzzles are relatively simple, but aren't bad.

There are a few places where the player can even barricade doorways to block pursuing monsters. This gives the player a brief respite to search an area for ammunition or set pieces that can be used against the monster, and in some [more scripted] cases can even be used to escape. I like the idea in principle. It's just too bad that almost every time a barricade is available, it basically just traps the player in a small room and delays the enemies from getting to me. Most of the time, I still had to stand my ground and fight. The barricade only served to give me time to get a lay of the land, scavenge some supplies in relative safety, and plan out how I want to confront the monsters when they finally break through the barricade.

Wasted effort

I do also have a few nitpicks with how I feel Village fails to communicate certain information to the player. For instance, animals such as chickens and pigs started showing up after leaving Castle Dimitrescu, which I could kill for special food ingredients. The inventory simply told me to "give them to the Duke" (Village's stand-in for RE4's merchant). But the game hadn't actually unlocked the ability for me to do so yet. With those ingredients taking up inventory space, and without any other obvious way of "giving" items to the Duke, I sold the ingredients I had collected, assuming that I would get the appropriate reward after selling the requisite amount.

Nope. If I had just waited till completing the next boss encounter (like an hour later), I would have unlocked the "cooking" menu for the Duke, and it all would have become clear. I don't know why the cooking menu isn't available sooner (or right from the start, even though I didn't have anything to give him to cook yet). The net result was that I accidentally sold several ingredients to The Duke with no option to buy them back, and had thus locked myself out of some of the rewards that those ingredients would have offered.

PSA: Do not sell "ingredients"! Hold onto them until you can access this "cooking" menu.

I was able to complete the game just fine without all of the cooking upgrades, since the standard difficulty is pretty easy. I died in the final boss fight, but was able to reload from the shop, buy more healing items, and tank my way through the second attempt. Still, it was aggravating to feel as though I was screwed out of valuable upgrades (despite having put in the time and effort to earn them) simply because of an arbitrary failure of the game to communicate how to unlock them.

Capcom also doesn't adequately communicate which difficulty would be appropriate for a player like me. Capcom has been really struggling with difficulty levels in its games for the past few years. REVII felt fine on standard difficulty (probably owing to extra care being taken on balance, since the hard difficulty wasn't even available for a first-time playthrough). Other recent Capcom games have pathetically easy standard difficulties (like Village and Devil May Cry 5). But I'm always hesitant to chose the "hard" difficulty because REmake 2 set a precedent of having unreasonable restrictions and limitations placed on the player for choosing that mode. I don't want to waste hours getting halfway through the game, only to have to give up and restart on a lower difficulty because it turns out to be literally impossible for me to progress past a certain point in the "hardcore" mode -- which was the case for me with REmake 2.

I'm still hesitant to chose Capcom's "hard" difficulty, since I felt REmake 2's "hardcore" mode was blatantly unfair.

After finishing Beneviento's House, I found myself with boxes and boxes of ammunition, my pockets were full of crafting material to make more ammunition, and I was wishing that I could up the difficulty level. But I couldn't. If I wanted the enemies to be more threatening, I would have to restart the entire game that I was now more than halfway through. It was also at this point that the game started to completely shed its horror facade and reveal itself as an action game. From this point on, my interest in the game began dropping like a stone, and I had to force myself to reluctantly power through it.

At least Resident Evil 4 was kind enough to signal very early on that it wasn't going to take itself too seriously, and that it was going to be a high-octane, action-first game. Village sticks to its slower-paced survival horror theme for most of the first half of the game before it really becomes apparent that it's going to be more of a schlocky action title.

Village isn't a tense, finely-tuned, atmospheric horror title like its direct predecessor. But it also isn't nearly as challenging or engaging of an action title as Resident Evil 4. It's somewhere in between, not doing either particularly well, and feeling confused and self-contradictory.

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