Also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Stadia, and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 05/09/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
A note first off – I don’t care how Capcom stylized it; I reject the number drop from the title and personally insist on calling the game “Resident Evil 8: Village.” It used the same color change for the “VIII” that the previous game did for “VII,” and that game was officially “Resident Evil 7: biohazard,” so I’m putting the 8 in there where it belongs. Anyway, with that said, Resident Evil 8 is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7 taking place three years after the events in Dulvey, Louisiana. The first-person perspective is retained, and Ethan Winters returns as the game’s protagonist.
Ethan Winters and he and his wife, Mia, have been put into a sort of witness protection by the BSAA and moved to Eastern Europe (I think Romania) to try to keep them safe from the global bioterrorist group responsible for the Dulvey Incident. Everything seems fine aside from some probably run-of-the-mill marital tension between Ethen and Mia at the beginning of the game until BLAM Chris Redfield bursts in, fills Mia with bullets, and kidnaps Ethan and their six-month-old daughter, Rosemary. Story things happen, and Ethan eventually finds himself alone in a quaint village filled with monsters. Thus begins his quest to rescue his daughter, avenge his wife, and find out what the hell is going on with Chris Redfield, the BSAA, and this monster-infested hellscape.
As Ethan makes his way through the village, has to contend with five main antagonists, Mother Miranda and her four “children” – Lady Dimitrescu for whom the entire internet is horny (and no, she is NOT a vampire; the game makes that explicitly clear and has only one element that even remotely hints at possible vampirism); the creepy doll-maker, Beneviento; the stage 12 cancer patient, Moreau; and my personal favorite, the engineer Karl Heisenberg. I liked all of the antagonists, but I thought that splitting the attention between five “big” antagonists rather than having one recurring big baddie like Nemesis or Mr. X made each one feel a bit less impactful.
Let me state first off that try as I might, I’m not going to be able to be 100% objective with this review. I’m a huge Resident Evil fan and have been since high school, and there are a few things about this game that just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. The first of those is the overall feel of the game. It’s obviously trying to be a next-gen Resident Evil 4. It takes place in a primitive village filled with violent creatures, there’s an insane cult, the goal of the game is to rescue a kidnapped girl, and it’s noticeably more action-oriented than its predecessor. Oh, and it has a nearly identical style of inventory management system and mysterious shopkeeper. Now, none of that is actually bad, but my issue is how on the nose it all is, and I’m fully aware of what a monumental nitpick that is. It’s just that after how huge a departure 7 was from the rest of the series, I was a bit disappointed to see 8 basically boil down to “4 in first person with a worse protagonist.” It was an instance of the game doing everything right on paper but just not quite sticking the landing for me personally.
The biggest disappointment with the game for me was that I honestly just didn’t find it that scary for the most part. The village itself is definitely creepy, and House Beneviento legitimately scared the hell out of me (there was some obvious inspiration from PT), but beyond that, it was kind of meh as far as “horror” goes. I didn’t find Castle Dimitrescu particularly scary, Moreau’s area wasn’t scary at all, and Heisenberg’s factory was kind of average-level creepy with a couple of jump scares. I feel like that’s where 8 missed the mark with mimicking 4; Resident Evil 4 stayed genuinely scary in my opinion, but 8 leaned just a little too heavy on the action to the detriment of the horror. The last 30 or 45 minutes of the game genuinely felt more like Call of Duty Zombies than Resident Evil. Again, I know I’m nitpicking here, but horror is my favorite genre, so it’s hard for me not to.
I’ve nitpicked and criticized a lot, but there are some things that even I couldn’t find fault in. The game looks fantastic, for one thing. I thought RE7 looked great, but playing on PS5, Resident Evil 8 just looks phenomenal. There are a few textures here and there that left some to be desired, of course; the torn sofa cushions in the village look legitimately terrible and like an upscaled PS3 texture. By and large, though, it’s really impressive visually, and the sound design is superb. The sound effects are done extremely well – something that can really make or break a horror experience – and having RE7’s version of Go Tell Aunt Rhody start playing quietly in the background at various points tied the ambiance together nicely. The voice acting, as well, is top-notch. The only fault I had with the voicing is that Rosemary’s crying sounded nothing like a real baby would in that situation; just passive whining rather than full-on screaming you’d actually get from a baby. Having dealt with an actual baby before, it was unrealistic enough to break my immersion a little bit in the game’s opening. That’s really my only complaint, though.
Resident Evil 8: Village is a solid follow-up for 7, but it doesn’t quite live up to the Resident Evil name the way its predecessor did in my opinion. It went a little too far in the action direction and left a bit to be desired as far as horror goes. It’s a fun game, and there are definitely parts that had my heart racing and my palms sweating, but overall, it was about on par with Resident Evil 6 for scaring me. I do consider it a must-play for Resident Evil fans and survival horror fans, but if you’re expecting it to be as consistently creepy and keep you as on-edge as Resident Evil 7 did, you’re in for a let-down. Capcom has always had some trouble finding that proper balance between horror and action with Resident Evil – I still scoff whenever someone mentions Resident Evil 5 – but I would definitely say this is the least offensive example of a horror game leaning too hard on action.