Returning once more to the Village of Shadows, new additions fill out an already surreal experience for one Ethan Winters.
For the purposes of this review, I will note that this game was played on an original model PS4 running off the stock HDD with no upgrades made. The issues detailed below were problems I faced when playing and may not reflect your experience when playing on a PS4 Pro or that of a PS5.
I will also be making continued references to both Resident Evil 7 throughout the review as well as referencing the original version of Resident Evil 8 itself, to make things clearer for all I will abbreviate as such (RE7) – (RE8) – (RE8:GE)
Resident Evil Village
Stepping once more back into the world of survival horror players assume the role of Ethan Winters, now at peace after the Baker family incident of RE7, Ethan has now settled down with Mia and even sired a child dubbed Rosemary Winters.
After a chance encounter with series main guy Chris Redfield, Ethan is once more thrust into trouble as he struggles against all odds to save his daughter from the elusive Village of Shadows and the grasp of new series main villain Mother Miranda and her cohorts.
What secrets does this village hold and how does this all link together with the previous game within the series? With nothing but the clothes of his back Ethan ventures forward into the village determined to do anything he can to retrieve Rose.
Stepping into the village immediately brings back the feeling of playing Resident Evil 4, filled with tight locations and scarce ammunition, but rather than unruly spanish peasants Ethan now has to encounter that of the Lycans as well as other undead and mutated beings that want nothing more than to end his remaining existence.
The Resident Evil 4 reference was not only limited to enemies, RE8 takes the best parts of RE4 and tacks them on with a nice little bow, even bringing back a series favorite, albeit a little more grander than our classic dark and grungy merchant that used to hide behind houses and deep in caves. RE8 features the new character of The Duke, now The Duke, unlike his counterpart of the Merchant enjoys the finer things in life and will always take time to chat with Ethan, be it helping him along his mission, upgrade weapon, offering new items or simply marveling over the treasure that Ethan collects through the story. Much like the Merchant, The Duke doesn’t work for free and will only allow you to make use of his services through the use of Lei, Lei can be collected in several ways from kill enemies, looting the surrounding areas only combining treasure together to sell at a later date, after nothing in life is for free.
While having The Duke on the player’s side is a welcome help, you’ll have to channel your abilities in stealth and gunplay into taking down each of the Lord’s of the village as you progress deeper into the village, each lord has their own unique area of control as well powers and properties.
Here is a brief overview of each lord that players will be encountering throughout their time in the village, some may be out for their own gains while others may be religiously loyal to a fault.
Lady Dimitrescu – The poster girl for the entire series, you have now doubt seen the hype as well as the billboards surrounding this monster of a woman, standing at over 9 ft tall with a craving for blood ruling from a dark castle Lady Dimitrescu is the first lord Ethan will have to contend with will searching the village for clues of Rose’s whereabouts.
Donna Beneviento – The quiet and reserved Donna Beneviento is never seen without her Doll Angie who acts more of a mouthpiece than a doll itself, shrouded in mystery Donna resides on the western side of the village more content to slowly torture her victims than end them outright.
Salvatore Moreau – Truly the most pitiful character of them all, heavily disfigured and scared Salvatore seeks nothing more than the acceptance of Mother Miranda but is always tossed aside, Salvatore resides in the abandoned reservoirs that fuel the drinking water of the village.
Karl Heisenberg – The most outspoken of the lords, Karl takes refuge in the large factory deep within the village, constantly striving to improve standing though carries a deep desire of his own, Karl is responsible for the Lycan outbreaks throughout the village, perhaps he holds the key to finding Rose?
Shadows of Rose
The first true DLC for RE:Village and one of the biggest time skips throughout the whole series, Shadow’s of Rose takes place 16 years after the final encounter of RE:Village’s main story, unlocked from the start of RE8:GE players step into the shoes of Ethan’s daughter Rosemary Winters as she attempts to better understand her unique powers as well well as learning the story behind what truly happened to her father back in the village of shadows.
Shadow’s of Rose is a truly unique third-person experience that is much slower overall compared to the main game. Traveling to the source of the horror Rose will be assisted by new character “Micheal” as Rose travels deeper into the roots of evil she’ll slowly discover the reason behind her powers as well as how to make proper use overall to take care of the horrors.
Shadow’s of Rose features a lot of returning characters from the main story as well as one surprise encounter to create a real surreal experience that closes some of the plot holes within the two stories, to put it plainly this just simply works on more than one level. Rose herself is young and inexperienced in combat so she’ll have to make use of the limited ammunition as well as her ever increasing powers to combat Faceless beings, otherworldly horrors along with her own returning traumas.
Mercenaries Additional Orders
As the name suggests, Mercenaries AO is the upgraded version of the previous Mercenaries mode unlocked after completing the story mode in the original RE8. Unlike RE8 – RE8:GE unlocks Mercenaries Additional Orders from the start of the game allowing you to play as both Ethan, Chris Redfield as well as two new characters added to the cast.
For players that are fresh to the series Mercenaries mode has been a staple mode of Resident Evil since Resident Evil 3, sometimes called Raid Mode (Revelations series) Mercenaries mode has changed quite a lot, with the change in camera perspective from the classic third person to first person brings a new sense of dread as Lycans, Ghouls as well as other beastly creatures stalk the player in several modified locations featured throughout the main campaign.
The object of Mercenaries Additional Orders is effectively managing your remaining time while chaining together kills to achieve higher and higher scores. Players begin each mission assisted by The Duke, who offers each character a unique shop as well as upgrades and ammo. Upon leaving The Duke’s store players will move onto the first area of the map, the amount of areas depending on the chosen map all increasing in difficulty as the player attempts to attain the elusive SS and rare SSS ranks, completing any map within these parameters will rewards the player with additional characters – more starting Lei as well are infinite weapons for the main campaign.
Every character within Mercenaries Additional Orders plays entirely different from each other, this mode adds a lot of replayability to the game as there is always a better route to getting those higher ranks. To save people from spoilers I will only cover the basics of both Ethan Winters and Chris Redfield below as the additional characters are really a treat to behold.
The original and previously only playable character in the Mercenaries mode – Ethan Winters retains many of the features from the main story as well as previous ventures. While not as strong as the other characters in terms of abilities featured within the Additional Order Ethan’s strengths come from that of his vast array of weapons the majority of which heavily feature within the main campaign itself. Choosing the correct weapon for the right map is key to playing the character well as some maps will be better suited to the use of a shotgun due to narrow hallways while other maps may favor the speed of a pistol to take down several enemies in rapid succession. Add in Ethan’s ability to block as well as push crowds of enemies back and you have a very well rounded character that can only grow in strength with practice.
The first of the newly added characters and unlocked right from the start of Additional Orders, Chris Redfield channels all his boulder punching powers and tactical knowledge and support to clear out enemies quickly and rapidly. Due to Chris’s aggressive nature and playstyle he is one of the few characters that are unable to block enemies meaning that should you be surrounded you can become quickly overwhelmed.
In order to counter the downside of not being able to block Chris is one of the few characters that has access to both arms during combat, wind up a viscous straight punch with the right hand stunning and knocking enemies down for a follow up stomp to the head or swipe quickly with the left hand to push enemies into a better position for clearing up at a later date. Chris also come complete with his unique Onslaught gauge ability, upon killing enemies, collecting time as well as boosting abilities this gauge will slowly grow, once filled after a short button press Chris will dash forward and for a limited time deal an immense amount of increased damage regardless of weapon used as well as faster movement and reduced damage, making good use of this ability is key to surviving as unlike Ethan, Chris has a much smaller choice being limited to a pistol and a machine gun, while powerful you’ll have to channel your fists as well as Chris’s unique and limited pool of items and abilities in order to succeed in your mission
Trauma Pack & Street Wolf Addons
Included within this version of RE8:GE comes the Trauma Pack and Street Wolf additions, each containing small changes that will give the player a much easier start throughout the main game as well as unlocking the titular “Village of Shadow Mode” without the need to complete the main game beforehand. Below is all the additional content included as base.
Trauma Pack Additions
I’ll start with the Trauma pack itself as this pack is the larger of the two and contains a wealth of extra content of note that should be covered individually rather than briefly referenced. The first addition made to the pack is that of the classic – Samurai Edge – AW Model-01 this model gun has since become a staple within each Resident Evil as this is the gun that was used by series main antagonist Albert Wesker, the Samurai Edge itself is a slightly more powerful handgun than the starting one and is extremely cheap when first speaking to the Duke. A leg up from the original but not strong enough to beat out some of the later handguns, a good addition overall to the package
Along with this we have several portions of content that reference Ethan Winter’s first venture into the series (RE7) – These include that of
- Resident Evil 7 Found Footage Filter
- Resident Evil 7 Tape Recorder Save Point
- Saferoom Music ”Go Tell Aunt Rhody”
- Everywhere Weapon Charm
- The Tragedy of Ethan Winters Artwork
- The Baker Incident Report
All of this content harkens back to the Louisiana swamps that dominated RE7 as well as the Baker family themselves. The majority of this content is minor and will generally not change the base experience of the game, the additional feature of swapping the classic typewriters to that of the Tape Recorder was a welcome change as it seems far more suitable overall for Ethan as a character, bringing back noticeable references from RE7 such as Mr. Everywhere along with “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” was also a very nice touch to link both games together as RE8:GE’s main game is far different than its predecessor.
The biggest change included within this pack is that of the Found Footage Filter; this changes the game fairly significantly and is definitely not something I would recommend for a first time playthrough. If you’re familiar with the grainy Blair Witch style of Found Footage that was included in RE7 as a way to add backstory to the Baker Incidents then you’ll be most at home with this filter, opening in the classic VHS tape style this filter increases the frights by distorting the music, as well as every spoken line, the additional filters throughout the screen really brings forth the illusion that you’re watching the experiences play out as someone else rather than taking control of Ethan himself.
Rounding out the package The Tragedy of Ethan Winters Artwork & The Baker Incident Report Gives new players and returning the backstory from RE7 told from the perspective of Zoe Baker after surviving the incidents in “The End of Zoe” DLC from RE7, the Baker Incident Report is roughly 80 pages of well written dialogue as well as images that really fill the loose plot holes that where present within RE7 and helps to bridge the time difference between the two games.
Finally The Tragedy of Ethan Winters Artwork is an immense collection of RE7 and RE8 Concept art filling about 120 pages, these include Art Director’s commentary and really gives players and deep insight into how both games changed throughout the design period. Rather than spoil any of the original ideas I would just suggest taking some time to look over this breath-taking collection to really appreciate the art as well as the direction that could have been taken from both games.
Compared to the immense amount of content for the main game the content present from the Shadow’s of Rose DLC is minimal at best, Street Wolf takes new main character Rosemary Winters classic Ethan Winter’s look and swaps it out for a more Urban tactical look that reflects that of Chris Redfield’s Hound Wolf Squad from the main game.
This is a really nice put together reference considering the circumstances that Rose finds herself in during the DLC and show’s that while Chris may be getting on in age and his boulder punching days are over that he’s still willing to take another cub under his wing so to speak.
In conclusion RE8:GE is a masterpiece of a game, having the content and difficulty unlocked from the start made reviewing the content overall much easier and I had a ton of fun going deeper and deeper into the lore of Resident Evil, while I initially was skeptical due to the change in location as well as the enemies RE8:GE actually makes sense and is a unique take on how the series has progressed throughout the years. However, while I can now praise the direction that RE8:GE has chosen to go in, I will admit a fair portion of information is locked away behind the files, while integral to the story can easily be missed without careful investigation. To fully understand the story and why things are unfolding as they are it does require a lot of digging to get the true story.
Returning back to my previous mention of the different camera perspectives I will admit that while having access to a third-person mode finally for the main story is a nice change I feel that it does not entirely work, there are numerous instances within the main story in which the third person camera became more of a detriment than a gain, instances such as seeing the first Lycan encounter pop in even though it is covered by the snowstorm was extremely jarring as well as numerous instances of not only Ethan but enemies phasing into buildings and getting stuck after being pushed back really took me out of the overall experience, I also noted several instances of slow down as well as loading lag while playing in the third person mode, this could be just due to use of an old original model PS4 but I only ever experienced this instance during third-person mode play.
For me personally I don’t feel third-person mode really works to well for the main story but is absolutely perfect in the Shadow’s of Rose DLC, this is most likely due to the pacing of both modes overall, the main story feels far to fast paced to make proper use of third-person mode, on the other side Shadow’s of Rose is a much slower pace and makes excellent use of it’s third-person aspect to really drive mechanics and scenery to new heights. Overall I feel the inability to fully rotate the camera in third-person mode (due to wanting to continue to hide Ethan’s face in gameplay) impacts the mode the most. A welcome addition overall and many players may prefer third-person to first, but for me I fully believe that the main story should be played only in a first person perspective.
- Excellent references to previous games throughout
- DLC content is truly one of the best in the series
- Lady Dimitrescu
- Third-person for the main game can be quite frustrating
- Potential screen tears/pop in effects on lower powered consoles
- Inability to fully rotate the camera around Ethan leads to annoyances in combat