Stranger in a strange land – Thoughts on the Resident Evil Village Demos (2022)

Stranger in a strange land – Thoughts on the Resident Evil Village Demos (1)

In a fashion similar to the Resi 2 remake’s “One Shot” demo, Capcom recently announced a co-ordinated series of three weekly demos for Resident Evil village: Playstation players get half an hour in the village, half an hour in the castle, then all platforms get the two combined into one run. I’ll be giving my impressions of the demos as they’re released.

Part 1: As the midnight moon rises on black wings

The Village demo is predominantly focused on story, with only one instance of combat. I’ll start with that though: the shooting feels like it did in Resi 7, though Ethan seems to move faster. There’s a new mechanic where you can attack bags of flour to create temporary cover, which will probably be useful in the full game but it did nothing to help me here. The two enemies you fight appear to be werewolves in the Wolfman style; humanoid, bipedal and human sized. They’re quick, can and will dodge and will pounce if they get close enough, but a few shots can make their heads explode, Resi 4-style. Ethan still hasn’t figured out what iron sights are, but that’s just an observation, not an issue. Ethan’s in Romania on the trail of his daughter Rose, whom Chris Redfield kidnapped after apparently killing Mia. I hope it isn’t that simple and she’s still alive; stuffing Mia in the fridge is a waste of a married couple who both have combat prowess, something new to this series. It’s also just generally a bad trope that needs to die out. Anyway, Ethan runs into an old crone who says Rose is linked to the darkness engulfing the town, which Ethan interprets as the monsters currently rampaging through it. He falls in with a young woman called Elena whose Father has been slashed by a Lycan in traditional zombie movie style, and apparently no one puts two and two together because he ends up turning and murdering everyone holed up in a nearby house where they seek shelter. Interestingly, the people in said house pray to both “Great Ones” and Mother Miranda, whom the trailers imply to be the head of the village that Lady Dimitrescu answers to, and the monsters tearing through the town are something they’ve not encountered before. Clearly Mother Miranda is bad news, and someone implied to be her lifts a man in the air with one arm and snaps his neck near the end of the demo. I say that, the man cries out her name before he dies which made me think it was her, but it could have just been him exclaiming the name of the women he worships/venerates.

Ethan is a lot more emotive this time around; he talks a lot, asks questions, tries to calm Elena down when her Father turns and convince her that he’s a different person now, and is angry and frustrated by the rapid, tragic ending to events. Where Resi 7 Ethan was surprisingly calm, Resi 8 Ethan keeps a straight face until he just can’t anymore, when it all gets too much. I also like a part where Ethan tries to use a pick up truck to try and bust through the wall of the now burning house, which takes three painful tries and doesn’t even work out in the end. I like that rather than taking a quick Hollywood approach where he smashes through first time he winds up, drives and just smacks into the wall and knocks the wind out of himself. It’s a nice touch.

So that’s the Village demo, and what I picked up on in my first run. I’d go through again but I can’t: it has a thirty minute time limit like the Resi 2 demo, but I will be playing it again when both demos are released simultaneously in two weeks.

Part 2: Nothing but blood and death

This one is about half the length of the first, but it’s almost all gameplay so it evens out. Ethan regains consciousness in Castle Dimitrescu, encounters hugely obese weapons dealer the Duke and is pursued through the Maiden demo in reverse by one of Lady Dimitrescu’s daughters. The one with blood around her mouth that can turn into a swarm of insects. Her actress Jeanette Maus died earlier this year, actually. Anyway, treasure is a thing again; you can sell things like fancy wine glasses and crystal skulls torn from dead monsters to the Duke in exchange for weapons, items and weapon upgrades. Upgrades take the form of Resi 4-style stat boosts, but interestingly the Duke also sells weapon parts like the ones found in the Resi 2 and 3 remakes. I didn’t get any because I spent all my money on what turned out to be a very limited amount of ammo but I’m looking forward to getting them in the full game. The monsters down in the Maiden Demo torture basement are thin, humanoid creatures with hoods covering their eyes, carrying sickles. They’re easy enough to fight; they don’t dodge like the wolfmen in the village, but they seem to take more bullets to put down. Although you’re supposed to run away, you can engage the daughter in combat, and it didn’t feel like I was even inconveniencing her. Nemesis and Mr X at least drop to one knee if you shoot them enough, I emptied a shotgun into her and her bugs and it didn’t seem to have any real effect at all. Presumably there’ll be a proper boss fight where I can hurt her, but not being able to scratch her is a unique experience for bosses in this series. She taunts you too, switching between aroused expressions of a desire to “Drown in your blood” and contradicting her Mother’s description of your blood as “Stale”, and mocking your attempts to fight back with a “…really?” You also get a brief glimpse of the Tall Vampire Lady herself too, but disappointingly there’s no interaction. Presumably the game is going to follow the Village-Castle-Other route from Resi 4, and given the presence of the family Dimitrescu I feel like this is going to be the best section. There isn’t much more to say about the demo at this point; the daughter is cool, the castle is a nice mix of opulence and grimy torture rooms and I’m looking forward to the weapon upgrades and customisation. I’ll be back next week to go through both demos again and give some final thoughts before the review.

Part 3: Final thoughts

I had a quick jaunt through both demos again, this time buying a shotgun mod, killing all the monsters in the basement (and finding the necklace from the Maiden Demo) and looking around a bit more for treasure in both. In the Village demo I found a shotgun, a mine and learned about the new barricading mechanic, where Ethan can drag shelves in front of doorways. I also tried to shoot Elena’s dad and save the people he wolfmans to death but sadly the game was having none of it. Also, this might seem like an odd thing to take notice of but I blocked at one point and Ethan’s hands look fantastic. They’re so well-modelled, I dig it.

Nothing else to say about the demos really, but I’m very much looking forward to the full game. As soon as I saw that first trailer I was immediately hype; I love the setting in particular, this snowy village in Romania filled with werewolves and overseen by a family of cool vampire women. Everything I’ve seen about the game, I’ve liked. I’m fully expecting it to be a game of the year contender.

By James Lambert

Stranger in a strange land – Thoughts on the Resident Evil Village Demos (2)

Author: James Lambert

My name is James and I run this here Reviewing Floor. Game reviews, opinion pieces and episode by episode breakdown reviews of anime and live action TV are my stock in trade, so if you're into that sort of thing, stick around and have a read, why not?View all posts by James Lambert

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