By the looks of it, Resident Evil Village is making moves into a new kind of horror experience for steadfast fans of the franchise. Not only is it introducing supernatural beasties like werewolves and witches, but it's also apparently giving the player the freedom to explore the surroundings.
Following the Resident Evil Showcase held last week, a little more light was shed on the upcoming entry to the series. Not too much light, of course, as almost all of the best horror movies and games use the darkness to inspire unease and fear. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard protagonist Ethan Winters returns in Village, and the gameplay snippets showed off the new and improved blocking mechanic, so Ethan won't always be able to keep his enemies at arm's length. These clips flaunted the ornate beauty of the strange castle on the hill that overlooks the humble hamlet below, and it's a far cry from the rundown rooms inside the Baker homestead.
The castle is home to Lady Dimitrescu and her daughters, who may or may not be vampires. The only thing we're sure of is that fans are keen on Lady Dimitrescu and want to be chased while she waves her super-sharp talons. Each to their own. Personally, I'm much more interested in the snowy settlement, as Capcom assures that it will pack "just as much horror - if not more" into the game, when compared to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Eagle-eyed fans spotted that the developer had updated the tags attached to Village's listing on Steam after the showcase, and these are "Sexual Content" and "Open World."
Now, that second tag will be a controversial choice. Horror titles that constrain the player in small-scale settings are very effective at maintaining a sense of panic, literally showing the player that there's nowhere to run to if things get hairy. However, horror titles that are much more expansive in their worlds promote atmosphere above all else, and are able to lull players into a false sense of security with long sightlines. And, there are horror titles that mix the two together to great effect: I'm thinking of SOMA by Frictional Games, or Metro Exodus by 4A Games.
The Collector's Edition of Resident Evil Village includes a map, which gives us some insight to the size of the world, and it's looking to be ginormous. We're acquainted with Castle Dimitrescu, but there are other named locations like House Beneviento, Heisenberg's Factory, and Moreau's Reservoir. I can't confidently make out the letters of the minor areas labelled on the map, and oh, there's a hulking creature illustrated to be emerging from the reservoir. So, best to bring your waders and a packet of blister plasters to the Village.
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