I remember my first time playing Resident Evil on GameCube. I was 12, and my parents didn’t want me to play it. Fortunately, my friend owned Resident Evil, and I would play it there. In secret, I started to fall in love with the horror genre, zombies, and a new type of game.
Since then, I’ve been hooked on the franchise, through the highs and the lows. With Resident Evil: Village being announced, I’m extremely excited, but also quite concerned. While the franchise is scarier than ever, with each new mainline installment Resident Evil strays farther from what made it iconic in the first place.
Village appears to be the title in which Resident Evil completely loses its identity.
No stranger to change
When Resident Evil 4 launched, it did things that were unheard of at the time for the franchise. Capcom got rid of the fixed camera angle and basically pioneered the over the shoulder perspective. The game left Raccoon City and went to a village in Spain. Zombies were also substituted for parasitic creatures that took host in human bodies.
The Ganados were terrifying and unpredictable at the time. Despite many of the changes that Resident Evil 4 ushered in for the series going forward, it still felt like it belonged in the franchise. Each subsequent sequel attempted to do something new while veering into a more action-oriented feel.
Resident Evil 7 was the ultimate change for the franchise. Not only did players control Ethan, a completely new character, but the perspective was also changed to first-person. It was a decision that left me skeptical at first. But the end result was shockingly fantastic.
Although we see Chris in Resident Evil 7, it’s a game that felt like it belonged in a different franchise. The narrative was out there, and the characters didn’t really feel like they came from the series. Resident Evil has always been known for the campiness and the zombies. Resident Evil 7 was horrific, vile, and touted its influences – Evil Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to name a few – with a lot of glee. I honestly would’ve preferred the sequel if it had been a new IP, instead of a new adventure in an existing series.
Is too much change a good thing for Resident Evil: Village?
Leading up to the reveal of Resident Evil: Village, there were plenty of rumors detailing the game’s location and enemy types, such as the werewolf. I ignorantly laughed when I read about werewolves and a witch that stalks Ethan relentlessly. “There was no way Capcom would make a Resident Evil like that,” I thought to myself.
But behold, last week, the trailer confirmed all these rumors. I was left screaming in the Skype chat I was watching the PlayStation 5 showcase with. They knew I was excited, but wondered why I felt concerned.
My issue is that Resident Evil: Village is the antithesis of everything that made fans fall in love with the series in the first place. There have been plenty of tonal shifts throughout the seven mainline games, but something about the 8th installment felt off. If Resident Evil 7 felt like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Resident Evil: Village feels like every supernatural horror film I’ve seen.
Sure, Resident Evil isn’t grounded in reality. There are zombies, gruesome biological experiments, and horrific creatures, but also very real and believable aspects to that universe. A haunted woman and werewolves are images shrouded in fantasy, and they don’t make sense in a beloved franchise that has spanned decades.
At what point does Resident Evil stop being what long-time fans love and turn into something else entirely? When concepts went in different directions, Capcom created entirely unique experiences. Onimusha and Devil May Cry, two very popular franchises, originally began as Resident Evil spinoffs. With the direction that Resident Evil: Village is taking, I think Capcom should have turned the game into a new IP instead. Outside of Pragmata, which was revealed at the PlayStation 5 showcase, it’s been a while since the company delivered a game outside of an existing franchise.
Please return to its roots
I don’t think Resident Evil: Village will be terrible. In fact, if it’s anything like the superb Resident Evil 7, fans are in for a treat. The remakes we’ve seen over the past two years have been fantastic, but that’s not enough.
Resident Evil is as its absolute best when it’s campy, over-the-top, and zombie-filled. It’s what created countless nightmares for plenty of horror fans. I’m down for more horror experiences from Capcom, but if the studio wants to bring scares to the public, maybe a new IP is the route to take. When people think of Resident Evil, they think of zombies. The supernatural doesn’t really fit into the franchise, and while we’ll need to wait to see how Resident Evil: Village turns out, nothing can beat fighting zombies in Raccoon City.