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Resident Evil 8: Village leaks suggest that the series is about to undertake a radical transformation

(Image credit: Capcom)

A lot of Resident Evil 8 information is beginning to come to light. With an announcement reportedly on the near horizon, Resident Evil 8: Village – as the rumoured game is reportedly titled – is going to be our chance to see how Capcom plans on evolving the long-running series once more. It's already been three years since the tradition-defying Resident Evil 7: Biohazard landed and, as nostalgic as the Remakes have been, I'm ready to see where the studio takes its themes, systems, and mechanics next. 

The leaks are suggesting that Resident Evil 8: Village is a folk horror experience infused with occult leanings. That's exciting enough, but it is the hint that a return to the type of locations and systems that helped inscribe Resident Evil 4 as legend, not to mention an evolution of the systems that propelled the series through its most impressive transformation in over a decade, is on the cards that has really caught my attention. Truth be told, if these Resident Evil 8: Village leaks turn out to be correct, then it sounds like this new installment could be a rather wild evolution of Resident Evil 4's infused with the spirit of experimentation that made Resi 7 so enthralling. 

Let's enjoy some wild speculation

(Image credit: Capcom)

Before we dig into the detail, I want to acknowledge reliable survival horror sleuth AestheticGamer (Dusk Golem) and BioHazard Declassified as primary sources. This information appears to have leaked courtesy of participants of the Resident Evil Ambassador initiative, which sees players given the opportunity to sample in production titles in exchange for their feedback and a signature on what I can only imagine is a fairly nasty non-disclosure agreement. As such, this information should be treated as rumour to be examined more so than fact at this point in time – traditionally, production and priorities can change quickly internally at Capcom, especially with respect to the Resident Evil franchise. 

Like its predecessor, Resident Evil 8: Village is going to be cast from a first-person perspective. Unlike Resident Evil 7, its action will not be contained to the claustrophobic corridors and surrounding grounds of a house haunted by the past of its inhabitants. Instead, Resident Evil 8 will reportedly venture back into Europe, to a small village under the looming shadow of a castle. Enemies will be unlike anything we've seen from the series before, there will be a new type of relentless pursuer to endure, plot twists with returning characters abound, and a fine balance weighted between action and anxiety. If you're thinking that this sounds extremely Resident Evil 4, then you aren't alone. 

In fact, that isn't where the similarities to Resident Evil 4 end, with recent reporting indicating that Capcom is looking to combine the limited UI of Resident Evil 7 with the beloved inventory system of Resi 4. With reports suggesting that this iteration of Resident Evil 8 began life as Resident Evil Revelations 3 – the Revelations titles are developed on a parallel track and are far more retro-leaning in many of their themes, ideas, and presentation than the mainline games – perhaps it's no surprise that a team within Capcom looked at evolving many of the core pillars of Resident Evil 4's play as the foundation for a modern experience. 

Return to the 15-year-old genre-defining classic now, and it's the tense games of cat and mouse born out of the skirmishes in its opening village area, and the chaos born out of its sprawling castle, that still get the blood pumping. Hearing that Resident Evil 8 could be tackling similar locales, albeit with a focus on occultism and hallucinations as the backbone to the enemy, scenario, and narrative design is enough to get me excited about the direction the series is potentially heading in. 

(Image credit: Capcom)

"It sounds utterly terrifying, anxiety-inducing, and so typically Resident Evil"

AestheticGamer describes one leaked gameplay sequence and it honestly sounds like something that could have existed in Resident Evil 4, had the tech been there to support it. They detail a village with crisscrossing paths swarming with medieval-themed enemies – zombie-like creatures kitted out in armour and swords and mutated beast-men – that pressure the player character relentlessly. The gameplay, as described, sounds like a constant war of attrition, with the player having to barricade areas, push through large groups of enemies, and desperately attempt to survive the village to make it up to the castle grounds. Given the more tempered pace and claustrophobic camera of Resident Evil 7, and a reminder in Resident Evil 2: Remake of just how potent relentless persecution from a mass of enemies can be, it would seem that Resi is ready to once again redefine the nature of survival horror. 

Cycle in this concept of hallucinations, whereby the idea of trust (or the lack thereof) in your surroundings and of the people around you, is constantly at risk, and it sounds like this could be a real breath of fresh air for Resident Evil. I was always disappointed that we never got to play Shinji Mikami's original vision for Resident Evil 4 which dealt with similar themes and ideas; gameplay of Resident Evil 3.5 can be found online, with Leon S. Kennedy crawling through castle corridors as medieval statues of armour spring to life, hallucinations with chattering teeth cause confusion, and a mysterious hook-handed ghost is a relentless and haunting presence – ideas the series creator would later resurrect in The Evil Within and its sequel – and it's fascinating to see Capcom return to this concept once again, so many years later. 

Throw in a new stalker in the form of a Witch, allegedly not all that dissimilar to Marguerite from Resi 7 in terms of base design, a new enemy type that pursues the player relentlessly and – much like Tyrant, Nemesis, Jack Baker, or The Chainsaw Man – can not be killed through conventional means. In fact, the leaks detail a system where the Witch dissipates into insects should you temporarily defeat her, creating a separate problem to mitigate entirely. The Witch is said to haunt you throughout, her distinctive laugh echoing out of sight before it strikes. It sounds utterly terrifying, anxiety-inducing, and so typically Resident Evil. 

The future is in sight

(Image credit: Capcom)

We are still waiting for an official reveal of Resident Evil 8: Village, but this initial salvo of information – if taken at face value – highlights the broad direction Capcom could be attempting to take the series in. While it sounds like a departure on paper, even more so than Resident Evil 7 was, the studio is clearly eager to continue expanding the lore and boundaries of Resident Evil, pushing further from the convoluted timeline and legacy of Umbrella while still finding new ways to contort the nature of survival horror for modern audiences. 

The leaks suggest that Resident Evil 8 will release in Q1 2021 for current and next-generation systems. It isn't yet clear who will lead play, with both Ethan and Chris Redfield floated as potential protagonists – given that this is reportedly a restructured and overhauled iteration of Resident Evil Revelations 3, it's no surprise that this isn't yet clear. What is clear, however, is that whatever form Resident Evil 8 ultimately takes, if these leaks are to be treated as fact, it will be created with the same desire to overhaul the series that helped fuel the development of both Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 7. The series will do what it has always done best, transform. 

Interested in our impressions on the latest release in the series? Well you're in luck, because here is our Resident Evil 3 Remake review

Hello there! I'm the Features Editor for GamesRadar.