I am of course talking about the mighty Resident Evil. The long-running franchise, which debuted with that groundbreaking game back in 1996 on the original PlayStation (and Sega Saturn! Yes I feel old too), is back with a new major instalment in the series in the shape of Resident Evil Village.
Village is set three years after the events of Resident Evil 7 and while the original game was set in the since incinerated Raccoon City, this takes you to a creepy Romanian village in where else other than Transylvania. The home of Dracula may seem a somewhat corny place to set a game famed for the undead.
But Capcom have never shied away from corny - and it’s not done their long list of blockbuster hits much harm has it?
Ethan Winters returns as the protagonist. He has been living with his wife Mia and newborn daughter Rosemary when Chris Redfield and his men suddenly appear and a seminal moment in the story unfolds which brings you kicking and screaming to eastern Europe.
Once there Ethan must embark on a rescue mission like no other. The village is governed by four different mutant lords, each controlling their own forces from strongholds within the village. In true RE style things get really weird, really fast - and it’s bloody terrifying.
Village maintains Resident Evil’s survival horror elements but leans more towards action-oriented gameplay than its predecessor.
It is first-person with an inventory management system similar to that seen in Resident Evil 4 (ie a briefcase). Players can buy weapons and items from a merchant, called the Duke. And you can also hunt certain animals in the village and have them cooked into dishes to level up your health/damage resistance and the like.
There is also a six-player online multiplayer game as well as a return for the arcade style Mercenaries Mode.
As successful as RE has been down the years, the series has seen its fair share of disappointing releases. But I can happily report Village is not one of those.
REV takes the best action elements of the Resident Evil franchise and updates them for the next generation while keeping the style which made RE7 so good.
The crowning achievement, though, in REV - besides the excellent and engrossing story - is the pacing. Capcom has done a brilliant job in mixing things up to keep you on your toes with a rollercoaster of emotions as the intensity flips throughout.
The increased level of combat is welcome and feels slick, intuitive and most of all enjoyable.
And without giving too much away I think the Beneviento graveyard section of REV is some of the best gaming action I can remember.
All that said, REV is not perfect and I couldn’t help but feel some elements - particularly towards the end - were a bit rushed. I think the final hours could have been better and those new to the series may not fully appreciate some elements given the over-arching links to all the previous titles. Even for fans of the franchise, it might be tough to tie all the connections together to make sense of the story.
Make no mistake, though, this village is the perfect setting for Resident Evil. The variety of enemies throughout keep tensions palpable and are a credit to the franchise.
Give hardcore mode a try - you will rarely, if ever, have experienced tension and anxiety like it while gaming.
This is a long overdue and welcome return to the fast-paced action that made Resident Evil 4 so good.