Resident Evil Biohazard, the seventh game in the Resident Evil series, echoed the earliest entries and brought the iconic horror franchise back to its roots. New protagonist, Ethan Winters, wandered around an eerie Louisiana mansion, where zombies lunged around corners and took magazines full of bullets to the face without flinching. It was a terrifying breath of fresh air from the superheroics the series had begun to veer into with Resident Evil 4. So, when the first information about Resident Evil Village came out, revealing a more action-oriented tone and a setting reminiscent of Resident Evil 4’s, some fans approached it with some trepidation.
Luckily, Village isn’t just scary – it’s the scariest the series has ever been. Yes, Winters is now armed to the teeth, like the Resident Evil heroes before him, and yes, the focus has shifted towards sequences where the one-time everyman effortlessly pops werewolf heads like balloons, but because Village affords the player so much power, it’s able to get away with even more tense and horrifying sequences by regularly robbing them of that power.
The most iconic section in the game takes place in a bizarre workshop, where Winters is stripped of his weapons and forced to solve a number of puzzles. The atmosphere is eerie and thick with dread, but there’s nothing to actually fear – until there is. After some time, a horrifying half-fetal monster begins chasing Winters through the halls of the house. Without any means to defend himself, Winters is forced to hide in closets and duck under beds. It’s one of the scariest things a Resident Evil game has ever accomplished.
The workshop sequence is an excellent snapshot of the way Village handles horror. It comes after a long stretch of relatively easy and empowering combat encounters, where the player is allowed to feel as though they’ve become stronger and come to understand the language of the game. Then, without warning, the mechanics they’ve become familiar with are stripped away as they’re thrown into a foreign environment. The pretense of comfort is abandoned.
The smartest tool in Village’s arsenal is the willingness to let the player become a superhero. There is absolutely nothing in the broader Resident Evil franchise scarier than feeling as though you’ve stepped into a breezy action game, only to discover that your expectations have been severely miscalibrated, and the real experience is far more terrifying than you could have realized. The game gives you all the power in the world, which makes it that much more devastating when you’re forced to let go.
Sorrel Kerr-Jung is a freshman studying games and animation at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Sorrel by tweeting her at @gendertoad.