The action careers superbly through spooky gothic castles and underground complexes where monsters and a bloodsucking femme fatale lie in wait
It has been four years since Resident Evil 7 rescued the series from its action-heavy nadir and returned to the roots of survival horror: jump scares, and elaborate puzzles involving unattractive oil paintings. Now, Village seeks to bring back some of the gunplay introduced in Resident Evil 4 without losing the tension and dread. The result is a delightfully schlocky survival horror adventure that makes constant references to earlier games – and will bring much joy to fans.
Things start on an eerily domestic note, with Resident Evil 7 protagonist Ethan Winters and his wife Mia attempting to recover from their horrific experiences in isolated rural Louisiana by moving to … isolated rural eastern Europe. After a gruesome opening, in which Mia is shot and their baby kidnapped, Ethan must set out to discover what fresh hell he has landed in this time. You start out exploring the village of the title, a squalid, diseased little place, all cackling crones and mad-eyed yokels with shotguns, like some nightmarish Borat remake directed by Eli Roth. Most of the inhabitants have been slaughtered by four monstrous local lords at the behest of a cruel demigod. To save his daughter, Ethan must track these bizarre aristocratic sociopaths down to their lairs and kill them.
The next 15 or so hours follow the Resident Evil playbook to the letter. Vast gothic castles, spooky mountaintop mansions and murky subterranean mine complexes spread out before you, crammed with weird artefacts, elaborate interdependent puzzles and jump-scare monsters. Progress is made though finding keys that open the locked doors you passed by an hour ago, and reading strange notes that tell you to light fires or ring bells to open the next previously inaccessible corridor. As ever, there are conspiracies involving bioweapons and ancestral madness, and gruff series regular Chris Redfield returns wearing a lovely coat.