Is Resident Evil Village departing too much from its successful zombie origins?

Resident Evil Village

Announced at the PlayStation 5 reveal event in June 2020, Resident Evil Village is the eighth and latest upcoming installment in the successful Resident Evil series.

The announcement trailer and the most recent trailer from this January highlighted the game’s snowy European setting and improved graphics. It teased the return of familiar characters, a promising storyline, and—to the shock of many—werewolves and vampires! While most fans are eagerly awaiting the next update before the game’s launch date, one question hangs in the air: where are all the zombies?   

Zombies are to Resident Evil as coffee is to Starbucks.

Resident Evil is Capcom’s best-selling video game franchise, spawning comic books, novels, and tons of merch after the first game was released in 1996. Its live-action film series is also the highest-grossing game-to-movie adaption of all time. The series is even credited with renewed interest in the plethora of zombie films of the early 2000s.

So, to say fans are passionate about the franchise is an understatement. The previous installments’ combination of zombies, puzzle-solving, map exploration, and loads of blood-splattering action has left players with certain expectations. Resident Evil 7 already took big risks upon its release in 2017. The gameplay switched from a third-person to a first-person perspective, sparking outrage among some fans. The story also scaled back from a global zombie outbreak scenario to focusing on one psychotic family with serious Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibes. 

A continuation of RE7?

Village picks up with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard’s protagonist, Ethan Winters, a few years after the terrifying events that took place at the dilapidated, backwoods house in Louisiana. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the gameplay remains in the first-person.

Village is a chance to reimagine the Resident Evil universe and Capcom has even gone as far as changing the name to represent that. Instead of Resident Evil 8: Village, they have removed the number altogether. As the game producers Tsuyoshi Kanda and Peter Fabiano stated in an interview with Famitsu: “You could call the actual Village another character in the game, and we did that because we would like players to understand that.” 

Some installments like Resident Evil 3 have been criticized for focusing too much on action whereas players demanded more puzzles and jump scares. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard marked a paramount shift in the popular franchise. Village appears to be differentiating itself even further.

Although some fans are questioning whether the newest installment is straying too far from the series’ origins, others argue these changes allow the game to return to its horror roots. To be clear, it looks like there are zombies, but they might not take center stage.

Breathing new life into the franchise

If you are like me and just finished the Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 remakes to get your nostalgia fix, you may have been left wondering when developers would deliver new content instead of relying on old favorites. Just like The Walking Dead TV show, there is only so much you can do with zombies. They can get stale and Capcom knows it.

Village looks to breathe new life into the series, allowing it to move beyond zombie tropes. Will it work? We’ll find out soon enough!

Resident Evil Village launches on May 7, 2021 on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Pre-orders are now open.

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1 Comment

  • ViewtifulOneDoubleOkamiHand says:

    It’s fiiiine.
    Really.
    Resident Evil is a franchise long, loooooooong departed from it’s original idea both in a gameplay style and presentation. It’s the literal Mario of survival horror where it is simply impossible anymore to really, truly, genuinely care for what it is anymore. Sure, it was shocking back in the day when 4 ended up making it into basically a third person shooter game by the time 6 came out. But now it is evident that this desperate race to stay relevant this series is caught in will force it to change and adapt into literally anything and everything it can possibly turn into.
    And really… with third-grade material this series has always really been… why should anyone care ? It’s not like it’s some series like Silent Hill, the premise and style of which, if altered unavoidably leads to it crumbling into dust. No, Resident Evil will survive. As a franchise, that is. As that original survival horror game, though ? With those claustraphobic fixed camera angles, tank controls and lovable tone ? It has been dead for decades now.

    It’s fine.

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