Next week, all gamers with a platform hosting Resident Evil Village will be able to enjoy the demo. However, PlayStation players have a slight advantage in getting early access to both games. After access to the Village demo last week, it’s time for the Castle demo.
Unlike last week demo, this hands off preview of Resident Evil Village focuses on setting the scene. Instead of taking us straight to the heart of the village, it starts with the ringing of a smartphone in the hand of a corpse. Ethan struggles to come to his senses, but answers the call anyway.
On the other end of the line is a man who thinks he’s talking to his partner; he reminds him that time is running out and wants to know if the package is safe. Still confused, Ethan asks him where Chris Redfield and his daughter Rose are. The conversation ends.
These few seconds confirm what we already knew : things have gone wrong between the two men, and it seems that Claire’s brother has indeed kidnapped Ethan and Mia’s offspring. With the help of his torch, Ethan makes his way through the darkness, freezing. He sees a cabin, with a trail of blood at the doorway.
Once inside the cabin, he begins to inspect every corner; a way for Capcom to remind us that exploration will be vital in Resident Evil Village. In fact, the blood trail leads him to the basement where he finds the portrait of Mother Miranda – who we meet later.
The sound effects, a very good job was accomplished
These minutes spent in the cabin also allow the developers to emphasize the oppressive atmosphere intended for this episode.
Now that they’ve mastered the mysteries of the subjective view, the priority is clearly to take the sound design to the next level. The work was already remarkable in Resident Evil VII, but having played it again recently, we finally notice that it is needs upgrade.
Clearly, with a classic Resident Evil, the impact would probably have been the same. Here, whether it’s the creaking, the wood cracking with each step of the character, or the thudding from the roof, every sound is really part of this FPS approach. After ducking under a piece of furniture, Ethan finds himself in the open air and heads straight for the village overlooked by the Dimitrescu castle.
It’s impossible not to think of Resident Evil 4 and its Ganados. Except that here, no creepy ritual: at first sight, the place seems deserted. The lull usually precedes the storm, and Ethan takes advantage of it to have a look around; this is the opportunity to get your hands on a knife that you will keep until the end of the game.
As is often the case, it can be used to break crates and vases, and thus recover a whole host of items. As he examines every nook and cranny to try and find the whereabouts of Chris and Rose, he comes close to being killed by one of the few survivors of the village.
While handing a semi-automatic pistol to Ethan, he lets him know that monsters (Lycans), half-human and half-wolf, have invaded the place and are prowling over their heads.
You’ll have to be careful to save your ammunition so as not to run out at the worst moment, knowing that there will be a way to make your own if you have the necessary materials (gunpowder, for example). This is also true for other items, such as the famous first aid kit, capable of re-greening our health gauge in one go. Other slots will be unlocked as we progress, which will undoubtedly increase the usefulness of The Duke Emporium.
Not only it will be possible to buy a whole host of items from him, but you can also sell him items found on corpses or while exploring the area, and even ask him to upgrade your equipment. The other good news is that he will move to different locations in the game, including safe rooms.
While we’re on the subject of the little helpings of the game, let’s mention that an alert will be displayed when you have enough resources to craft such and such an item. In moments of panic, this can be useful. What can be just as useful is to barricade yourself (with a library, in this case) to avoid being caught.
Well, generally speaking, these makeshift barricades don’t last very long when faced with enraged Lycans, but it gives you time to pick up a few extra items and find the best position to eliminate the monsters.
Explosive barrels are the order of the day, as are shortcuts with the directional cross to change weapons on the fly, or the ability to shield yourself behind your arms to push the opponent back – which has the effect of stunning them and allowing you to regain the upper hand. And then, at times, we’ll just have to accept to run away and let the storm pass, the Lycans being however evolved enough to follow us on the roofs and penetrate the houses. This was evident when Ethan found himself surrounded by a horde of creatures. In the end, his salvation came from the bell of the castle which suddenly started to ring.
After that, Ethan meets Karl Heisenberg in a rather brutal way, the latter dragging him to Mother Miranda’s feet. There is then an argument between Alcina Dimitrescu and Karl who both want to take care of Ethan. Mother Miranda decides in favour of Heisenberg, which reveals some friction between the participants of this sinister meeting.
By the magic of the ellipsis – and in order not to reveal everything about the plot, of course – we do not know how Ethan manages to escape from Karl’s macabre game. So, in one piece, he makes his way to another area of the castle where Bela, Daniela and Cassandra, Alcina Dimitrescu’s three daughters, await him.
Forced into one of the castle’s rooms, he is promised a slow and painful torture, as Alcina prefers first to warn Mother Miranda that Heisenberg has failed miserably in the task she had entrusted to him.
The next sequence pits Ethan against one of the three sisters who, as we recall, will be able to transform into a swarm of insects. Seeing that the bullets have no effect on her, he decides to escape through a passage leading to the underground. This brief moment of tranquillity is an opportunity to underline the graphic level of Resident Evil Village.
Beyond the quality of the lighting, it is above all this festival of textures that makes you dizzy. Whether it’s the village or the castle, each element has been the object of a care that forces respect. The snowflakes that caress the screen here, the humidity that eats away at the bricks there, or the great halls that recall the majesty of the Dimitrescu’s residence; it’s great art, really. The Lycans are not to be outdone, with particular attention paid to the facial animations that reflect their cruelty.
While this will also be the case in the village, the castle – which at times is reminiscent of Spencer Manor with its tapestry and mouldings – will certainly have a number of puzzles to solve.
Different maps will be there so that Ethan can find his way around. Of course, you can expect to go back and forth to make sure all the doors have been unlocked.
Like Mr X in the Resident Evil 2 remake, Alcina will not hesitate to chase you around the building. Like her predecessor, her imposing size means that she has to bend in half to get through the doors; an animation that is always fun to watch. We also note the Lycans capable of flying, the shotgun and the sniper which should be a treat, as well as the legendary typewriter as a backup system.
As for the storyline, we are of course eager to understand what exactly happened between Ethan and Chris, and why the BSAA agent kidnapped Rose. Hiding behind the windowsill of the castle, Ethan overhears a phone conversation between Alcina and Mother Miranda who tells him about a mysterious ceremony of great importance.