24.9 C
Brunei
Friday, September 30, 2022
24.9 C
Brunei
Friday, September 30, 2022
More
    - Advertisement -
    - Advertisement -

    ‘Resident Evil Village’: Same formula, gorgeous new setting

    Christopher Byrd

    THE WASHINGTON POST – Before I started writing about video games the Resident Evil series didn’t interest me, but after playing through the past few releases as well as the most recent one, Resident Evil Village, I’ve developed a grudging respect for them.

    Sure, I find their stories forgettable and the scares generally underwhelming (how many bulbous pustules can you put on something before it becomes comic?), but I derive some pleasure in going through their paces because the formula is satisfying on its own terms. The intricate puzzles and precisely-calculated enemy placement endow the games with a mechanical flare akin to fine watchwork. When a video game makes cliches enjoyable, it’s impossible to not notice the craft of its game design.

    Resident Evil Village picks up a few years after the events of Resident Evil 7: Biohazzard. There is a short film at the beginning of the game which summarises the misadventure of its protagonist Ethan Winters in Louisiana where he went to rescue his wife Mia from a family driven insane by a bioengineered mold that turns human beings into flesh-nibbling maniacs. At the start of Village, we find Mia reading aloud a dark fairy tale about a lost little girl who accepts gifts from people she shouldn’t. The opening cinematic that accompanies it is visually enchanting, like something by Tim Burton. It presages a number of the game’s developments and skillfully sets the stage to introduce us to the Winters’ six-month-old daughter Rose.

    The Winters’ nesting is brought to an abrupt end one night when a paramilitary squad raids their house, shoots Mia in front of Ethan, forcibly hauls him into the back of a van and kidnaps his child. En route to its destination, for reasons that become clear later, the van is attacked, the soldiers inside it are slaughtered and Rose is kidnapped again.

    After stumbling clear from the overturned van, Ethan trudges over snow in the dark and eventually finds himself on a hilltop overlooking a village that stands at the foot of a gigantic, distant castle. The transition from the low visibility of the woods to the hilltop vista is but one of many instances where the art direction commands attention. It is hard to deny the game’s strong visual pull.

    A scene from ‘Resident Evil Village’. PHOTOS: CAPCOM
    Lady Dimitrescu (C) is so tall that she has to duck under her castle’s door frames

    In the village, Ethan finds a few remaining human inhabitants cowering in fear over an infestation of wolfmen and zombies. Ethan eventually learns that his daughter has been taken by Mother Miranda, a woman of enormous power who uses the village as a laboratory for her twisted ambitions.

    Those who nurse an interest in Resident Evil’s lore may find it interesting to see how Miranda’s legacy intersects with the Umbrella Corporation’s.

    In his attempt to rescue his daughter, Ethan travels to an ornate gothic castle, a smaller private residence that takes on the dimensions of one big escape room, a waterfront area, a zombie stronghold and a factory where zombies are fused with mechanical weapons.

    The first three quarters of the game play out like a classic survival horror game in which ammo is scarce – but not so scarce on the Standard difficulty level as to be grating. The last bit of the game is more all-out action: mechs, hordes of enemies and loads of ammo. And although I liked the tempo changes, the last two boss fights feel like they could easily have been used in another game. They are extravagant but not horrifying.

    Clearly, a noticeable amount of care went into thinking about how players move through the game. The environments scale up and down in a way that keeps things from becoming stale. And the puzzles are so varied and well thought out that I found myself consistently delighted by their slyly concealed solutions.

    Over the course of my playthrough, I grew increasingly fascinated with the number of ways Ethan is made to suffer. There is a comic aspect to his clueless incredulity. And although I never formed any particular attachment to Ethan – the personification of a B-movie hero – I was rarely bored in his company.

    Resident Evil Village doesn’t exactly rejigger the conventions the series has established. Instead, it dresses them up in a sparkling new setting. In this case, the status quo isn’t all that bad.

    - Advertisement -
    spot_img

    Latest article

    - Advertisement -
    spot_img