How scary is Resident Evil Village? If you're easily afraid, that's probably a question you've been secretly hoping would be answered before the entire game gets spoiled by social media… just in case you do want to play it. Resident Evil Village is perhaps the most technically proficient and visually impressive PS5 and Xbox Series X game available right now. It should be experienced first hand if you have the stomach for its high-octane action and debilitating scares. Of course, not all of us do have that tolerance for tension – and I should know, because I'm one of them!
Before we get any further, I just want to take a second to outline my horror bona fides – because I think I'm perfectly placed to help you gauge whether Resident Evil Village is too scary for you. I fit this weird little crosssection where I've played 28 of the Resident Evil games, but have routinely struggled to push through the rising tide of first-person horror games released in the shadow of Amnesia. I've seen most of the classics and best horror movies – the monster and body horror of the '50s and '60s, and the slashers, zombie, and sci-fi horror of the '70s and '80s – but I wouldn't be caught dead watching The VVitch, Hereditary, or The Babadook, modern horror that will make me (physically) sick to my stomach. I've read The Shining, but I've been "too busy" to finish Pet Sematary... you can see where I'm going with this.
As Resident Evil celebrates its 25th anniversary, we explore the full history of gaming's longest-running survival horror series. Here's the ultimate guide to the Resident Evil games.
I'm telling you all of this because I'm going to assume that you've had a variant of the following conversation at some point in your life. Friend: "Have you seen [insert popular horror movie here]?" You: "No. You know I don't watch horror." Friend: "Well, it's not really a horror, it's basically a comedy! I found it really funny." You: [Night ends with you crying in a bathroom because The Descent was not 'basically a comedy' and was in fact an unholy patchwork of godforsaken nightmares.]
Listen, I wouldn't do you dirty like that. We're all friends here. And this is just one friend (me) speaking to another friend (you), and it just so happens that we are as horror adverse as we are curious. Everybody's tolerance to horror is different, so I can't tell you, scientifically, how scary Resident Evil Village is. But I can outline its key areas of focus and my experience of them in as spoiler-free terms as I can manage, so that you can figure out how scary Resident Evil Village is and whether you'll be OK to play it.
If you are easily triggered by psychological horror – mental and emotional stress, rather than implicit violence – then one area of Resident Evil Village will be a true nightmare. About halfway through the game, you'll have no option but to visit House Beneviento. It's here where I truly wondered whether I would be able to go any further – and probably wouldn't have, were it not required by this job. It's the moment Capcom puts schlocky horror to one side and goes all-in on pure psychological torture. House Benevento utilises a smart blend of hallucinations, shifting spaces, and abject body horror to create incidents that make the events of previous Resident Evil games and P.T. seem positively tame by comparison.
You're basically locked inside a single space without any real means to protect yourself. It's undoubtedly one of the most memorable areas of Resident Evil Village – an intricate challenge room where flickering lights and creeping floorboards quickly become the least of your problems – but if you struggle with this type of horror, the act of getting through it can be a little traumatising. I'm not too proud to admit that it took me days to make it down a single corridor when the reality of the situation started to become clear... with each step forward my stomach lurched, pushing me to pause the game to take a moment to breathe, before forcing me to put the PS5 into rest mode and walking away entirely. When I did come back and force myself through it, well, I kinda wish I hadn't. It's disgusting, terrifying, and something that will probably sit with me for a while.
If you're still dealing with the after-effects of something like Stuart Gordon's Dolls, or the Condemned: Criminal Origins level set in Bart's Department Store, then you're really going to have a rough time here. The rest of Resident Evil Village is relatively light on psychological horror, but you might want to have a friend on standby – either virtually (PS5 Share Play is a godsend) or in-person, if you're able to – to provide encouragement and support.
Resident Evil Village feels at its most comfortable when it lets you loose inside Castle Dimitrescu in its opening hours. It's a better looking, less interesting facsimile of the original Resident Evil's Spencer Mansion. The big difference is that rather than relying on jump scares, reanimating zombies, and intricate puzzles to produce scares, Resident Evil Village relies on four witchy-vampires to keep you on the edge of your seat. In many ways, this section of Resident Evil Village has echoes of classic slasher movies: You're trapped in an elaborate space, forced to combat assailants who are obsessed with finding you, and seemingly impossible to put down for long.
If you struggle with films like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th, then you might be a little uncomfortable with the stalker dynamic at play in these sections of the game. While it doesn't rely on jump scares all that much, tension is produced in the pursuit – by being chased by witches who can dissipate into swarms of insects and by an absurdly tall vampire with impossibly long claws protruding from her fingertips. If you played Resident Evil 7: Biohazard or Resident Evil 2 Remake you'll be familiar with these types of tyrants, although I think Lady Dimitrescu and her three horrible daughters engineer less terror than Jack Baker or Mr X would routinely do. That's largely because the architecture of Castle Dimitrescu is clearly defined and unwilling to be altered; you aren't going to find Lady Dimitrescu smashing through walls or bursting into safe rooms. If you can handle classic slasher films, I think you'll be okay with much of Resident Evil Village's push and pull.
Resident Evil Village has a tendency to swerve into body horror and splatter territory throughout its runtime. Thankfully, aside from the goings-on in House Beneviento, it isn't ever too graphic or gory. Well, that's a lie, because it can be graphic and gory, but from the Sam Rami school of splatter – Resident Evil Village doesn't really veer into David Cronenberg or John Carpenter territory.
In fact, Resident Evil Village has real echoes of Evil Dead at times. It can be shlocky and stupid, but in the way that has you screaming "no f*cking way" as truly absurd ultra-violence unfurls in front of you. The game isn't obsessed with blood, in the way that Hostel was, for example, so don't worry about that – but you should expect a couple of moments to make you sit up and pay attention. If you can handle Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2, I'd imagine that you'll be able to handle the level of violence depicted, particularly as much of it is truly, unabashedly surreal.
Resident Evil has always been closely entwined with monster horror. The games have become famous for their capacity to capitalize on the fear of the unknown and push a litany of grotesque and frightening monsters into your path. Most famously with the undead, more recently with moulded monstrosities in Resident Evil 7, and now? Werewolves. One of the key antagonists of Resident Evil Village are Lycans, which are basically Werewolves; these recurring enemies through the opening stages and latter end of the game work in packs and arrive with variance, some bearing sharper teeth and others with drill attachments for their arms (don't ask).
While the enemies eventually resemble something rolled out from a Clive Barker body horror production line, they rarely produce the kind of terror elicited by the lurking living dead of Resident Evil 2 or signature enemies of Silent Hill 2. The Lycans' fear factor is generated by the pressure to survive increasingly sized waves of them, rather than anything that they do necessarily. If you're willing to poke around Resident Evil Village's world, ammunition is plentiful enough, and you'll find that the game's monsters are a formidable threat, but they aren't all that scary.
Resident Evil Village doesn't go all-in on found footage sections like its predecessor, but it does kind of make you the star of your own found footage movie. Capcom's decision to once again cast Resident Evil from a first-person perspective gives you a front-row seat to the nightmare unfurling in front of you, and at times it can feel very voyeuristic, particularly as some of the most absurdist scenes of slasher and body horror tropes play out within in-engine cutscenes where you're trapped behind Ethan's eyes but unable to steer him to safety.
It's worth mentioning that if you are diametrically opposed to jump scares, Resident Evil Village is surprisingly light on them. The first hour, in which Capcom works to deftly establish the scenario and ground you in a new nightmare, uses them liberally, particularly as you are without weapon or clear direction. After that, however, it's unlikely that much will take you by surprise, aside from all of House Beneviento, of course, and turning a corner to see the Cheshire cat grin of Lady Dimitrescu or one of her daughters staring back at you.
Resident Evil Village draws liberally from the sub-genres of horror. It isn't always successful in its attempts to patchwork them together, but the resulting experience is something that is frequently atmospheric, but never oppressive. It's tense, but it isn't overwhelming. It can be scary, but in a way that makes you excited to overcome the challenge in front of you, rather than cry behind the safety of a bathroom door. Well, except for House Beneviento; I hope it burns in hell.
Need help surviving Resident Evil Village? You'll find a selection of links to our guides below.
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