This isn’t your grandfather’s Resident Evil game.
This series started back in 1996 as a third-person biohazard horror title filled with shambling zombies that ravenously lurched out of nearly pitch-black hallways while gamers had to find and cobble-together defenses and seek some means of escape.
Now, with the eighth official title (though in actuality there have been some 26 games in the series), Resident Evil Village comes packing vampires, werewolves, mer-monsters, witches and all sorts of other beasties in a first-person survival horror shooter.
You’ll still find callbacks here to the infamous Umbrella Corp.’s early years that also gave birth to a sprawling media franchise of books, graphic novels and movies. But this latest gory terror-fest torments and tortures players with its own disturbing formula.
The game focuses on Ethan Winters, the hero of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, who has now moved with his wife and baby daughter into a small European village. He hopes it is secluded away from all the horrors of his past. But in fact, Ethan has tumbled out of the frying pan and into an old-world fire. His beloved wife is bloodily murdered and his baby, Rose, is snatched up within the game’s first few minutes.
That horrific event propels Ethan into a fevered pursuit to rescue Rose before she’s torn into ritualistic chunks. To succeed, Ethan must make his way past horrendous creatures and wade through a rot-encrusted, Transylvania-like village of terrors.
Along the way he strives to find weapons to fight with and craft concoctions to keep his torn and ravaged body functioning. Eventually, he must give battle to a dark and powerful spiritualicon named Mother Miranda, whom many worship as a god.
Whereas some other Resident Evil games have been about surviving long enough to run away from the slavering creatures that keep doggedly pursuing you, this game is all about running toward the monsters in an attempt to save an innocent baby. Ethan puts his life and limb on the line, sacrificing everything to rescue his daughter.
Death abounds and central characters perish in horrible ways, but there is something of a happy ending by the tale’s closing moments.
I mentioned vampires and werewolves up above, but the creepy foes players face here aren’t just your classic, old-school variety of undead. No, no. These creatures are vile, gruesome and mutated aberrations that range from sexualized, blood-sucking women; to bubbling-flesh ghouls; to half-human, half-machine behemoths.
Their attacks are vicious, frenetic and bloody. Body parts are cut and chewed off. Humans and monsters are dismembered, hearts are pulled out of chests and crushed, entrails are spilled, and gore is splattered everywhere. There’s some dark, mystic spiritualism in the mix. And a child victim is divided into four pieces and stored in separate vials.
Ethan fights back with pistols, shotguns, rifles, grenade-launchers and knives. Creatures are chopped and impaled, while heads get blasted into a pulpy mass. The whole game feels much like a fevered, savage nightmare.
On top of all that, we also hear an abundance of profane language. We hear f- and s-words, uses of “d–n” and “b–ch,” as well as many abuses of Jesus’ and God’s names.
With its long litany of past horror games, the Resident Evil franchise has certainly mastered its ability to conjure horrible and disturbing visuals. And at many times throughout Village, gamers will find themselves involuntarily blanching and wincing at the gory and gross high-def graphics onscreen. And those nasty images linger.
Discerning adult gamers should definitely keep that reality in mind before diving in themselves. And parents of younger gamers should be forewarned.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.