There’s something amiss in the snowy hamlet Ethan Winters finds himself in. Maybe it’s the fact that this little rustic village is oddly quiet for a place that looked recently inhabited. Or maybe it’s the feral humans that stalk you in the distance. Or perhaps it’s that creepy old woman who mutters cult-ish prayers to herself as she draws circles in the mud. Either way, Village’s first of three upcoming gameplay demos promises some good scares (and a few headaches as well).
Over the weekend, Capcom released a 30-minute demo that could only be played within a specific 8-hour timeframe. Unlike the “Maiden” demo that was released last month, the “Village” demo provides a vertical slice of Resident Evil Village’s gameplay. With a 30-minute time limit, players would have to make the most of their time to explore the village.
With the ever-looming time limit ticking down, it adds another layer of tension to an already tense survival-horror experience. You scramble through houses and rooms to snatch up as many supplies as you can, but you’re constantly on edge with every creak of the floorboard.
Much like its predecessor, Resident Evil Village masterfully immerses the player in its delightfully unsettling world. While you have access to weapons like a pistol and shotgun, you never feel 100% safe in any combat encounter. Ammo and resources are limited, and enemies are tough to boot.
One notable moment involved a wheat field. As you approach the tall grass, its clear that you are not alone. Something is snarling in the field, and the only way you can tell where these creatures are is the sounds they make and where the wheat moves. It’s a hair-raising moment that blends combat gameplay with dread in the natural way you would expect Resident Evil to deliver on.
In a change up from Resident Evil 7, there are also more human characters this time around. Ethan encounters a few survivors who aren’t exactly keen on seeing strangers right now. While Ethan does offer a helping hand to them, you never feel safe even around other humans. There’s uneasiness among the survivors, and much of their paranoia gets directed at poor Ethan. Also, the creepy praying doesn’t help either.
This demo was played on a base PS4, and it shockingly held up well. Despite some low-res textures here and there and a little bit of pop-in, the game still looks pretty good on older hardware. This could also be attributed to the gothic art style that adds to the eerie atmosphere of Village. While there were occasional frame rate dips, the demo largely stayed at a consistent 30 fps, so players on PS4 and Xbox One can rest easy knowing they’ll still get a fun experience without the newer consoles.
The only major complaint for the “Village” demo is that annoying time limit. As stated earlier, Capcom’s plan for this demo and the next two is to give players one shot through the demo. Once it’s completed, players cannot go back to try it again. This is frustrating since it just pressures the player to speed through the demo as fast as they can rather than absorb the atmosphere. Y’know, the thing that the Resident Evil franchise is known for.
Resident Evil Village is shaping up to be an excellent survival-horror experience, but Capcom’s asinine approach to its demos is just a way to create a false sense of scarcity, and it can also be inconvenient for RE fans whose schedule simply doesn’t fit under Capcom’s rollout. Village is worth keeping an eye out for, but perhaps Capcom should revaluate how they decide to allow players to try out there demo.