I have been playing Resident Evil 8 a lot since it was released. I really cannot recall any recent Resident Evil game that has brought me so much joy, sadness, excitement, and bitterness that this game has. I just cannot get enough of this game and really am enjoying exploring every nook and cranny to find any missed items or secrets. I really feel that The Village is a love letter to the classic universal horror movies with the introduction of the four lords. This game also made me think of my own dad and my relationship with him even after his death. Just a note, this review will have spoilers for the ending.
Resident Evil 8 is a game that is so off the wall different from any past game in this series. I feel that it parodies the movie “Taken” if the movie had biological biohazard monsters running rampant. I won’t lie that would be a movie I would gladly watch. The game takes place a few years from the events of Resident Evil 7. You play as Ethan Winters, who was the main hero from RE7 and who is living with his wife, Mia, somewhere in Europe. Their daughter, Rosemarie, has been kidnapped by Chris Redfield for some unknown reason and Chris ended Mia’s life in cold blood for some unknown reason. Chris and his team escort Ethan and his daughter to somewhere, but they never really make it to their destination. Ethan wakes up on a cold dark night next to a dead body with his infant daughter missing. Ethan picks up a ringing phone only to have the call disconnect after asking for Chris. With no other clues or options, Ethan decides to venture through the dark woods only to find himself in a much more sinister nightmare to rescue his daughter.
Ethan’s journey takes place primarily in a village that feels like time has stopped, despite the presence of a few modern appliances. The village like it was part of a deeply rooted religious order, with a heavy dose of death, random goat heads strung up like pinatas, and werewolves running around ready to strike at any moment. I honestly felt on edge as I was exploring the abandoned houses in search of survivors, items, and clues to the mystery I found myself taking part in. The village did remind me of my family driving up to Salem. Exploring the history of the mass hysteria of the witch trials and trying to envision what life was like. Well, minus the eerie silence followed by death everywhere.
There are four lords that rule this village alongside Mother Miranda. Each lord has its own domain with its different types of bioweapons, unique puzzles, and their own secrets to uncover. The domains of the lords are vastly different with each of their personalities shining throughout. It really felt like I was able to grasp who they were while exploring their sections. I do wish that there were some hidden clues regarding who they were before being transformed into Miranda’s weapons. Though we do find out how the cadou parasite took hold of each of them and how they failed her expectations in one way or another. There is also some documentation and notes here and there that do give a glimpse of Donna, for example, that I enjoyed. I just would have liked to have more instead of a mystery surrounding the four lords.
Lady Dimitrescu is the first lord you’ll face in this game. Her dominion is the castle we first see upon stumbling into the village. It reminded me of Dracula’s castle; her daughters reminded me of his brides. Lady Dimitrescu was similar to the tyrants Mr. X and Nemesis in terms of gameplay. She would hunt down Ethan throughout the castle, which made exploring and searching for the masks a bit more difficult. I did love how the castle was everything I could imagine and more, including exploring the rooftops battling winged monsters. I do wish she was the last boss as the trailers made it seem like she was. I felt kind of cheated because we dealt with her first before the other lords. Just wish it was the other way around because of how much Capcom promoted her. I felt like it was a waste since her section would have made for interesting end content especially with her proving herself to Mother Miranda.
My favorite section is House Beneviento where resides Donna and Angie. It was the classic haunted house with twists that put me extremely on edge even before entering her area. The path to get to her section was quiet with no signs of life or any enemies. There was just a stillness in the air where I heard no enemies or wildlife as I ventured through a fog covered cemetery and abandoned cottages. The only sound of life was the roaring waterfall behind a dilapidated house which would be the stage for Donna and Angie. The whole atmosphere in the house was incredibly silent and really had me on edge and each sound would have me frantically looking around wondering who or what was with me. What made it worse is Ethan did not have access to his weapons. At every corner, I did not know when or if I was going to die or what I would have to face. Not to mention, Donna had these soulless dolls lurking around , which just creeped me out as I have a fear of porcelain dolls which stems from experiences as a young kid. The puzzles were definitely not the norm where I felt like a CSI agent trying to look for clues on the Mia mannequin. I also like how the VCR videos and the well made me think of the Ring movie. Just little touches that really made the haunted house a bit more terrifying.
I really wish I had to do battle with the Lycans on horseback that were seen in the opening. They were such an interesting concept that was sadly not used besides in one scene. There is just something about being chased down by werewolves on horseback that seemed like such a thrilling concept and one that was a tease to just showcase. It certainly would have been an interesting concept and set up returning to explore the village be more terrifying and make using the dilapidated houses and roofs to your advantage.
I did like how the monsters were original to this game. It was such a nice change from zombies and the mold. The biological monsters each had a throwback to the classic Universal monsters alongside some of the lords in this game. Karl Heisenberg’s factory had the most interesting monsters that Doctor Frankenstein could have only dreamed of. His mechanical army consisted of monsters that a child with superglue would have created such as Sturm that has a helicopter blade on his chest, Hauler that uses VR goggles and the Soldat Jet that are jet powered monsters that are tough to hit and fly toward you.
The voice acting is well done, but my main gripe is it’s set in a European country, and everyone has an American accent. I just felt that the game needed to have that European flair to make it believable and make me feel that I was in Europe versus an American town. Chris’ wolf pack did have a few of his team with different accents , so I really don’t understand why the four lords, the villagers, and Mother Miranda couldn’t have a European accent.
I also felt that Moreau didn’t really have any special monsters that were attached to his area. I wanted to see fish monsters or have certain areas in the reservoir have a few special enemies just in his area or the two times Ethan uses the boat. Moreau was portrayed as the dim-witted and butt of all jokes as his intelligence declined due to the parasite. However, his journals depict that he was doing his own experiments. I think having his failed experiments roaming around his area would have been different and really showed how much he wanted his “mother’s” approval.
The action was fast paced which had a learning curve for me as in any action paced games. I’m horrible at aiming and usually have more of a flight than a fight response which can be helpful in certain situations, such as when saving ammo. I did play the game on casual which greatly helped me get accustomed to the gameplay and get a feel for how I wanted to play the game. I do want to point out that there’s a huge difference from going from casual to standard that I wasn’t prepared for. I almost feel that I would have been better off playing standard than switching to causal for trophies. I did like how the environment really played an important part in gameplay. Certain buildings had doors that offered more protection to kill off the Lycans and flour could be used to briefly prevent attacks. I really did like these small touches that made gameplay different and interesting.
Item management was extremely important as there were no item boxes to store items. I did have issues, during my first run, where I had to sell off items to the Duke or get rid of items in order to get a new gun. It took me some time to know what items I needed or what items I could wait to craft such as bullets, bombs or healing items. Once I figured out my stye of gameplay I actually ended up having more fun because I didn’t need to have so many healing items, but could just craft them as needed.
The Duke is our item merchant who is everywhere and anywhere selling items, weapons and crafting recipes. He’ll buy unwanted weapons and items to help free up space. He also provides Ethan with advice, a bit cryptic, on where to go next. I really love his character and had so much fun interacting with him, especially in Heisenberg’s factory. I was trying to solve the marble puzzle and all I would hear would be his coughing or mumbles which made me laugh even though that puzzle was driving me crazy. I also found myself wanting to know more about him as even he isn’t aware of who or what he is. I am curious what his connection is to the merchant from Resident Evil 4. I do hope that the Duke will return to Resident Evil 9.
Chris Redfield’s character was a complete mystery to me, as were his motivations for taking Rose and killing Mia. We do see evidence of Chris and his team in certain areas after certain events, but we don’t meet him until a bit later. We eventually meet up with Chris at Moreau’s reservoir, a bit briefly, before Moreau destroys the shack. Chris seemed annoyed at having Ethan in the village, but we don’t know why. It’s not until Heisenberg’s factory that we get the full story of what’s really going. The story seemed so left field from previous games that I was intrigued. I honestly felt that who Miranda was or had become really opened the door for so many new possibilities that I’m excited for future games in this series. I do like how I assumed Chris had changed from the hero of the first game to an antihero who is disillusioned with the continuation of these disasters caused by greedy companies. I won’t say anything further, but I would compare Chris to the Major from Ghost in the Shell series especially at the ending of 2nd gig tv series. They both disgusted on the events that is happening and there is no real happy ending for either character.
Having to play as Chris was a nice touch and one that I wished was longer besides end game content before Ethan’s battle with Miranda. Chris is stacked with enough ammunition to annihilate anything and everything standing in his way. His gameplay section was a lot of fun and it felt like I was never truly in danger. Again, on higher difficulties this would be completely different. We also get to meet with some of his wolf squad that berate Chris for not telling Ethan sooner. They also go over events that I’m not sure where to place in the timeline of Resident Evil games. I am hoping that Capcom will give us DLC to serve as an introduction to the wolf squad prior to the events of RE8.
The ending of this game really hit me like a ton of bricks especially the revelation about Ethan. I never could get far in Resident Evil 7 but enjoyed the character of Ethan and how he wasn’t experienced like Jill or Leon. He was just a regular guy that got caught in what I consider hell. He managed to survive, though the experiences certainly changed him. I never really had a lot of favorites with the recent games, but Ethan certainly stood out to me. What drew me more to Ethan was his undying love for his daughter that drove him to the depths of evil to rescue her, even going so far as to pay the ultimate cost.
Ethan reminded me a lot of my relationship to my own dad in a way. My own dad was the kind of man who would do anything in his power, even make a fool of himself,` to see a smile if you were having a bad day. He loved nothing more than living life on his own terms regardless how society or people viewed him. One of his lessons, that I hold dear to my heart, is that you should always keep the young child inside and live life how you want. Once the child fades, you’re an adult and there’s no real fun with that. This game brought back memories of my dad and how much I miss him even after all these years. He left me far too soon, but his memories are still a part of me just like Rose with Ethan. My dad always would tell me that even in the darkest night there’s always light. I take great solace on my darkest days that I’ll always find the light and I’m grateful to this game to bring back such memories of my dad. This game has become one of my favorites and one that I still enjoy playing. I’m looking forward to the DLC and RE9. I do wish that it had the same intense scares that Resident Evil 7 had, but there are many moments that certainly gave me scares. All in all it’s a solid title in the long running series and I really love it. I think it has made me more of a fan than I ever thought possible.