They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it only took one very tall woman in the trailers for Resident Evil Village to break the internet. In case you missed the online furor, I’m referring to vampire antagonist Lady Dimitrescu. Fans were so enraptured by her that developer Capcom officially confirmed her height as 9 foot, 6 inches (including her hat and high heels, of course). Luckily we won’t have to wait long to get fully acquainted with Ms. Dimitrescu. Resident Evil Village is set to release on May 7th of this year, arriving with a multiplayer game called Resident Evil Re:Verse to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the franchise.
Lofty vampires aside, what other sights are there to see in RE Village? It’s the eighth main installment in the survival horror franchise and the direct sequel to 2017’s Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Like Biohazard, it will follow protagonist Ethan Winters from a first-person perspective, with gameplay focused on exploration and survival rather than action. The premise is that Ethan is kidnapped by Chris Redfield, a playable character from the original 1996 RE game, and taken to the eponymous village located somewhere in Eastern Europe.
Fans may not have been able to fully sink their teeth into the game yet, but Capcom has given them a taste in the form of a demo. Resident Evil Village Maiden is a PlayStation 5 exclusive that was released on January 21st as part of the RE Showcase. The demo is only about 20 minutes long and more of a technical showpiece than a preview of the game. It shows off a key setting, Castle Dimitrescu, in all its ornate, 4k, ray-traced glory. In a developer insights video during Tokyo Game Show, Art Director Tomonori Takano states that the team “set out with the concept of making a beautiful yet terrifying village,” and this vision is teased at in Maiden.
In addition to impressive visuals, the demo shows the potential of next-generation 3D audio. As Giovanni Colantonio commented in an article for Digital Trends, the main star of Maiden is arguably not the vertically enticing Dimitrescu but the sound design. The PS5 uses its own proprietary technology, the Tempest 3D Audiotech, to simulate sound coming from multiple directions and sources.
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What this means in practice is that the intensity of sounds will change as you move around in a game, adding to the immersive experience. In the opening sequence of the Maiden demo, an invisible terror knocks over items in a dungeon the protagonist is trapped in, a sequence made all the more unnerving with a 3D soundscape. Though you can experience 3D sound through your TV’s audio, to get the most out of it you’ll need optimized headphones.
Village has even more tricks up its sleeve to entice players. Despite being a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7, the game harks back to RE4 in several ways, such as the inclusion of a briefcase-style inventory system. As mundane as that might sound, its Tetris-like challenge of slotting guns and medicine into a tight space is beloved by fans of the series.
Another RE4 influence is the inclusion of a merchant who will sell you ammo and other goodies. Unfortunately, this character, known only as “The Duke,” hasn’t received as warm a reception as Dimitrescu. His rendition as a fat caricature in the showcase stream was disappointing, so hopefully the full game adds more nuance to his role.
Let’s circle back to Dimitrescu. She’s a topic that can’t be escaped, and though many fans don’t mind that, maybe they should be more fearful of her. After all, she’s based on the real-life 16th century Hungarian noblewoman Elizabeth Báthory, who holds a Guinness World Record as the most prolific female murderer (though the accuracy of this is debated). Báthory was imprisoned in a castle, which perhaps spurred the developers to create a counterpart in Village. Lady Dimitrescu was apparently also inspired by Morticia Adams, so she’s in good company.
Beyond the hype for impressive graphics and bloodthirsty foes, maybe the most interesting character in the latest Resident Evil game will be the village itself. As director Morimasa Sato puts it: “when people imagine a single village, I think most would tend to envision something quite small.” However, just like a certain lady, Village has promise to be far bigger and more detailed than you might expect.
Read More: Resident Evil 2 Retrospective
It’s hard to imagine what the horror genre would be like without the Resident Evil series. Racoon City not only spawned some terrifying monsters, but an entire survival-horror movement, and it was only twenty years ago that a little game called Resident Evil 2 changed everything.
Article author: Florence Smith Nicholls can be found on Twitter via @florencesn