As is tradition with Resident Evil games, this morning Capcom dropped a demo for Resident Evil Village and while not the most traditional of demos, it does give a good idea of the vibe that Capcom is targeting with the controversial new title.
I say controversial because, from the get-go, fans have been quick to clamour “not MY Resident Evil” given the series departure from zombies and the like to what appears to be werewolves, vampires, and perhaps even witches too. For the record, I’m not quite convinced it’s that simple or reductive but I sure as hell want to know more and play more after my time with “Maiden”, the first of several demos for Resident Evil Village.
While they were a bit non-committal with just who or what the Maiden is, the demo is titled as such because you play as someone who is trying to escape the dungeon of a castle. You probably already know her as “tall lady” or “vampire goth mummy” but her name is Lady Dimitrescu, and she’s the current matriarch of the family. The Maiden is her prisoner, being kept for strange rituals involving blood. It’s a pretty chill Resident Evil story really.
And it’s separate to Resident Evil Village’s main story, taking place before the events of the main game. With both Village and Maiden referencing each other, it’s well worth giving Maiden a shot to make sure you can see the bigger picture that Village is trying to paint. It’s so separate, in fact, that the Resident Evil 4-style inventory system isn’t even included. Instead, your inventory is a list and the option to examine them and subsequently use them to solve some very light puzzles.
Maiden as a demo is touted as a “visual showcase” by Capcom, showing off some of the locales you’ll be visiting in village and the power of the RE Engine as exhibited on next gen consoles. You’ll start in a dungeon and explore Castle Dimitrescu, though the titular village is unfortunately teased and never quite visited in the demo. From the get-go, the similarities to Resident Evil 7 are clear – there’s a lot of assets being shared between the two and it’s the same engine, so it only makes sense.
But it made me forget just how much I loved Resident Evil 7 and how much I enjoyed this style of Resident Evil. Going off the trailers, I had some concerns that Resident Evil Village was trending more towards action rather than the grim and unique horror that Resident Evil 7 was channelling. After my time with Maiden, a lot of those fears fell away. I’m sure that both aspects will be in the final product, but Maiden has that creepy and ominous atmosphere that had me just as tense as when I was playing through the entirety of Resident Evil 7.
And the ending is awesome too, though I won’t spoil that.
As a demo, Maiden is a short experience, but it does a great job at selling you that tone that Capcom is going for with Village. On a technical level, it’s quite impressive. The lighting is moody, the framerate is buttery smooth (though I did notice some drops in the foyer of the castle) and there’s some nice raytracing to be seen in the tiles on the terrazzo of the castle. One of the coolest effects in the demo is the window that’s been left open in the dining room, with a cool and eerie breeze blowing in from the cold and snowy courtyard of the castle.
There are a few little niggles – namely that the framerate seemed to drop quite a bit during the foyer (as previously mentioned) and some of the low-resolution textures, especially up close, hint that this game perhaps was always coming to the older generation of consoles too. But it’s a small blemish on what looks to be a remarkably polished product.
All in all, Maiden is a strong visual showcase for just how much Capcom is committed to making sure that Resident Evil Village is not only the best looking Resident Evil game thus far but also just as creepy as it’s predecessor. I went from being mildly apprehensive on the new direction to being absolutely excited and I can’t wait to see where Village will take me later this year.