The official title of the eighth mainline Resident Evil recreation, not too long ago launched to fawning reward, is Resident Evil Village. Its creators opted to ditch the established numerical naming for the extra evocative and stand-alone “Village,” however frankly, they haven’t given a strong justification for the decision.

Having now performed the sport, I imagine I’ve uncovered why this small verbiage tweak marks a grand reimagining of the sequence. The canonical title ought to certainly be Resident Evil Village. I swear I’m not simply being a pedant.

Resident Evil Village has little to do with earlier Resident Evil video games — its story progresses simply wonderful as a stand-alone expertise or a free sequel to its predecessor, itself a kind of reboot of the sequence. In truth, the primary Resident Evil sequence has now transcended numbers, embracing a contemporary and confirmed method: the horror anthology.

Village takes place after the occasions of Resident Evil 7 biohazard (itself a loaded title, since “Biohazard” is the unique title of the sequence in Japan). Our hero Ethan Winters has rescued his spouse from a swampy Louisiana family contaminated by a monstrous mould. Now the couple has a suburban dwelling and a child named Rose and a bland selfmade dinner on the desk that means the repetitive normalcy of home life. At least, that’s the established order, till iconic Resident Evil lead Chris Redfield exhibits up, grabs the plot, and presses the reset button.

The meat of Resident Evil Village transpires throughout a fictional Eastern European village and the encircling lakes, mountains, and estates. The majority of the story, greater than its complete first half, has no connection to the occasions of the earlier recreation, not to mention the prolonged sequence. Instead, Village is a recreation a couple of father navigating a sequence of fractured fairy tales in hopes of retrieving his kidnapped little one.

The recreation’s creators aren’t precisely delicate concerning the style pivot. Before we depart Ethan’s dwelling, we get an prolonged cinematic sequence set inside the fairy tales the household reads to Rose. The break from expectations is early and intentional, a message immediately to the participant that this received’t be one other story about zombies or evil science companies or, ya know, residential evil.

A werewolf-like beast prowls around a wooded area at sunset in Resident Evil Village

Image: Capcom

We’re left with no motive to imagine the following recreation will proceed the fairy story motif, simply as Village doesn’t develop on Resident Evil 7’s rural American horror. Each entry of the rebooted sequence seems to be riffing by itself department of the style, akin to fashionable horror anthologies like American Horror Story, the long-running FX TV sequence that has featured stand-alone seasons riffing on cults, haunted homes, psychological well being asylums, and different horror requirements.

The shift has saved the sequence from its worst instincts. The authentic six Resident Evil video games suffered from the problem of escalation, every recreation changing into extra motion packed than the final. In the fifth recreation, you struggle a Matrix-style reality-bending boss on a volcano, and but Resident Evil 6 in some way finds methods to swan-dive even deeper right into a inventive low level.

Now, every Resident Evil recreation has the chance to shock us, and provides followers future genres on which to speculate — an much more elaborate riff on how Assassin’s Creed followers anticipate new historic settings. Will the following Resident Evil mine 1970s demonic horror like The Omen and The Exorcist? Or maybe it is going to pastiche the Japanese horror growth of the 1990s? Will we finally get Resident Evil in area? (Wait, can we even need Resident Evil in area?)

This philosophy is so central to the brand new video games that you may spot it inside the tales themselves. Resident Evil Village specifically operates extra like a sequence of linked vignettes, every enemy’s lair having its personal tone, play fashion, and tempo. But to appease longtime followers who crave consistency, the sequence’ caretakers have shrewdly bookended each Resident Evil 7 and Village with appearances from Chris Redfield, the Umbrella Corporation (now Blue Umbrella), “mutamycete,” and the continued Ethan Winters saga, a weird journey of a boring dude with some not-so-boring unnatural expertise for surviving regardless of the world throws at him. In each video games, the connective tissue is simply that, a couple of bloody tendons holding collectively largely discrete video video games.

Will the anthology format stop Resident Evil from ever turning stale? Of course not. (I imply, have you watched current seasons of American Horror Story?) But the format has given the present entries a path away from outdated habits that had left it a lurching, brainless shell of itself. Decades into its existence — an eternity for video video games — Resident Evil has new life.