Village Is The Successor To Resident Evil 4 I’ve Always Wanted

Resident Evil 4 remains one of the most influential games ever created. To me, it’s a stone-cold masterpiece, one that countless games drew inspiration from in the years following its release. Without it we likely wouldn’t have Gears of War, Mass Effect, and a number of other classics that aped the third-person shooter template it helped pioneer. It was near faultless, having stood the test of time remarkably well. The duo of sequels that followed – not so much.

I’m still hesitant about the idea of a complete remake, especially when Resident Evil Village feels like a faithful successor in every way that matters. During my recent preview of Capcom’s latest survival horror blockbuster, I touched on how some of its earlier moments feel like they’ve been pulled straight out of the fourth instalment. Ethan stumbles upon a village he has no choice but to investigate, knowing his wife and daughter await somewhere inside its horrific confines.

So he moves forward, much like Leon does in the early hours of Resident Evil 4 in search of the President’s daughter. He has no idea what awaits him, talking to locals as if they aren’t axe-wielding maniacs being controlled by an ancient parasite. Bad news – they totally are. What follows is an increasingly morbid sequence of events where Leon must fend for his life, fighting off hordes of ravenous villagers as they pierce him with pitchforks, axes, and even chainsaws.

It’s a beautiful introduction to the campy horrors that await in Resident Evil 4. It terrified me as a kid, the oppressive music emphasising the viral control my pursuers were under, following the wills of their masters to dispatch me by any means necessary. Digging through the dilapidated huts located across the village for resources, praying that I could defeat all of these enemies before meeting my own end. It turns out patience was key, since after a few awful minutes, a bell tolls in the distance, calling my foes towards a greater purpose.

Even today, this opening remains iconic, instilling an aura of horror that the series hasn’t been able to match since. That is – until Resident Evil Village. Much like Leon, Ethan Winters is a stranger in a strange land, an outsider who is despised by almost everyone he comes across. After waltzing through the darkness, he finally arrives at the village, an old man hurling a pistol into his hands and begging him to help fend off a wave of twisted monsters.

You oblige, but things immediately take a turn for the worse. Our new friend is killed as we’re pulled outside, surrounded by countless lycans across the rooftops, on horseback, and virtually everywhere else you can think of. It’s looking grim, but just before doom befalls us, a bell tolls in the distance. Just like Resident Evil 4, the oppressors leave Ethan be, deciding he simply isn’t worth their time, or perhaps a greater power doesn’t want him killed just yet.

A number of games have aped the village opening from Resident Evil 4, with Bloodborne being the most obvious culprit. You can hardly blame them – it’s gaming perfection. Introducing the player to a space that is deceptively peaceful, but is simply waiting for one simple trigger to throw the entire situation into a frenzy. Having to blindly defend yourself with little knowledge of the wider mechanics is a paranoid thrill, a fight or flight experience that few have managed to achieve.

While my preview with Village was hands-off, I felt the same feelings of dread that permeated throughout me when I first played Resident Evil 4. Capcom’s latest outing always draws on the fourth game’s inventory system, weapon management, and even the dynamics at play between its cast of villains. The Dimitrescu family are much like the Salazars, myriad beings all fighting for the ultimate place of power. As you’d expect, confrontations ensue, twisting the motivations behind each character into something more complicated and fascinating. Ethan is just a witness, a poor soul trying to survive best he can.

Despite its outlandish setting and silly villains, Resident Evil Village is grounded in reality far more than Resident Evil 4 ever was. Dialogue isn’t coated in a film of cheese, and characters react in a way that is somewhat realistic given the absurd circumstances. Ethan isn’t an invincible action hero like Leon came to be in Resi 4, acting as a far more timid and boring lead that provides the player with a much greater sense of agency. It feels like the 2005 classic has been reborn with a selection of new assets, all of which are ready and waiting to shine.

Next: I Think It’s Time I Gave Horizon Zero Dawn One Final Chance

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Jade King is one of the Features Editors for TheGamer. Previously head of gaming content over at Trusted Reviews, she can be found talking about games, anime and retweeting Catradora fanart @KonaYMA6.

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