Until Village, I had never played a Resident Evil game in my life because I am a gigantic baby who is ridiculously easy to scare. But I knew as soon as I saw that tall, glamorous, vampire woman that I’d steel my courage and give the venerable horror franchise a try, if only for her.
It seems odd to jump into a game franchise 25 years after its inception, but while some of the finer lore points and references will be lost on me, I don’t feel like I’m out of the loop. I feel pretty good actually. I’m enjoying Resident Evil Village a lot as a newcomer and I think this may be the start of a beautifully gruesome relationship.
While I’d never played a Resident Evil game I’m not totally unversed in the lore of the series. I’ve watched a handful of Let’s Plays, including one of Resident Evil 7, so I’m familiar with Ethan Winters, his apparently titanium hands, and his ordeals at the Baker house. I’m actually glad Village stars Winters even if diehard RE players don’t like him as a protagonist. His presence makes it easier for a newbie like me to get into the games without worrying about all the attendant lore that comes with playing Leon Kennedy or Jill Valentine.
The franchise’s eighth main installment in everything but name, Resident Evil Village directly follows the story of 2017’s Resident Evil 7. Ethan Winters, the everyman protagonist introduced in the previous game alongside its new, first-person perspective, has settled down somewhere in Europe with his wife Mia and baby daughter Rosemary, three years after surviving the swamps of Louisiana.
So what’s it feel like being a newbie and playing Village? Sick—and not in that “Totally sick bro!” way but, “OK, I can only play a couple of hours at a time lest I get nauseous.” kind of sick. First-person games are hit or miss with me. For the most part, I can play them just fine without nausea but I haven’t been so lucky with Village. Nausea from first-person games is often tied to a game’s field of vision, a factor that can usually be tweaked on the PC version of a game. PC players were quick to create FOV mods for Village, since Capcom wasn’t kind enough to include the option by default. But I’m playing on PlayStation 5, so no mods for me.
One play session, just after beating Lady Dimitrescu’s second daughter, I thought, “I feel like I’m going to throw up. I guess I’ll just complete Castle Dimitrescu and finish the rest of the game via Let’s Play.” I managed to finish Castle Dimitrescu without further incident and have been cautiously pushing through the rest of the game in hopes of completing it on my own. I’m also toying with the camera wobble setting upon Reddit’s suggestion, in hopes that’ll fix my issues.
I love and hate how much Village scares me—it seems the terror was tuned specifically to my sensibilities. I’m an aural person, and the right music or sound will scare me more than any gross-out visual (unless it’s holes). In Castle Dimitrescu I learned that I was in for some shit whenever I heard that low, dreadful orchestral music start up, even if no trouble was otherwise apparent. The music creates a very fun if pants-soiling “Oh shit!” moment, making me wheel around to every door wondering which one Lady D will crawl through to tear my ass to ribbons.
One time I stayed in the castle’s safe room terrified to go out because I could hear Lady D’s boots clopping on her gloriously appointed marble floors. I poked the door open, saw the coast was clear, and while my partner was urging me forward, I stayed put. Her footsteps were so loud I was sure if I stepped beyond the loving embrace of my safe space she would magically appear behind me and that’d be my ass.
I’m also horribly horribly directionally challenged, which adds exponentially to my terror. I often got lost in the castle, chased off my chosen path because I got turned around running from one of the fly-infested Powerpuff girls or big mama herself. At one point in the middle of my rooftop exploration I needed to get to the safe room to save and offload some treasure. On my way there, Lady D showed up in all her glory and before I could say “Please step on me,” I was driven by blind panic to the whole-ass other side of the castle. It got so bad that whenever one of the ladies of the house would chase me, I’d run to the elevator room and head up to the rooftops because it was the only part of the castle I knew how to get to without looking at the map. I ended up handing the controller to my partner and begged him to get me where I needed to be.
Now that I’ve finished Castle Dimitrescu, I’m conflicted about the rest of the game. While my heart wishes the game was only Vampirella and the three buggy-goats gruff, I know playing just Resident Evil Castle would get tedious quickly. However I’m sad my time with Lady D was so short. While Lady D’s menacing presence is enough, and I don’t think she needed to be more violent to be a compelling villainess, I still would have loved something akin to the Fallout games’ over-the-top death animations for whenever she catches you. Instead the game leaves it up to your imagination to guess what those claws are doing to your organs—the same game that seems to take delight in showing Ethan Winters’ poor hands mutilated in excruciating detail.
It’ll be a while before I finish Resident Evil Village. I’m looking forward to tackling the Dollmaker, someone I’ve heard is even more scary than Lady Dimitrescu. Once I finish, I’ll be looking to give some previous Resident Evil games a try, assuming my scaredy-cat ass can handle it.