Curious about Resident Evil Village but afraid it's too scary for your brittle constitution? That was exactly me a week ago, but I'm happy to report that I've since beaten it, and I think you can too. The latest Resident Evil outing is actually the perfect scary game for scaredy cats like me due to a prevailing sense of fun, its absorbing mood and story, and most importantly, the fact that it knows precisely when to lay off.
I have a strange relationship with scary games. See, I'm a massive fan of horror, generally. I attend horror cons, spend two whole months celebrating Halloween every year, and I used to help run a local haunted house. But horror games are a totally different beast, forcing me into a position where, depending on my own actions, characters live or die.
As an impartial observer, I can watch body horror on TV and eat dinner without a wince, but as an active participant, even something as tame as Remedy's Control can give me heart palpitations, literally. Point is, I've always felt a tension ten-times as powerful in horror video games compared to movies, books, comics, what-have-you. But that never makes me any less intrigued by horror games. After all, they exist at the very intersection of probably my two greatest passions.
Breaking the habit
For that reason, I have this awful habit of getting really excited for new Resident Evil games, only to get them day one and then leave them unfinished a few days later because I can't muster up the strength to return to their worlds. I like the idea, but in practice we're incompatible. Resident Evil 7, in particular, truly scarred me. Even the act of taking the disc out of its case and slipping it into the console was dread-inducing. Yeah, it's that bad for me.
In comes Resident Evil Village. A couple days before launch, I was staring down my pre-order receipt thinking, 'Here I go again, spending money on something inevitably bound for my backlog, where it'll stay there, mocking me until I trade it in for Pokemon Arceus, probably.' But no, not this time.
Make no mistake, Resident Evil Village is scary as shit. The second "level" (you know the one if you've played it) had me within seconds of quitting, but as if the game knew I'd reach my breaking point any second, it relented just in the nick of time. There were several other moments like that, but that was the closest call.
Resident Evil Village's ability to push me to my limits, but never past them, was key to my ability to play through it. But I recognize that everyone has different horror tolerances. Some folks can watch Saw before bedtime but squirm in their PJs during The Ring, while for others it's just the opposite. Village sort-of throws you into an amusement park of horror attractions ranging from psychological scares to blood and guts, but it always remembers why you bought a ticket: to have fun. Beyond some truly grim story sections, Resident Evil Village is a blast of imagination that's always a joy simply to play.
Mother Miranda's Disney World
The ability to wander around the titular village at my (relative) leisure in-between each main house allows me to feel some sense of control over the pace of the game, which is hugely beneficial to my stamina. Likewise, the truly ghastly portions – of which there are plenty – are punctuated by scenes where I'm firing grenades at hordes of snarling werewolves swinging around on ropes. It's impossible not to have a good time doing that, and it really breaks up the tension in all the right places.
Capcom itself admitted to toning down the scares in response to feedback that Resident Evil 7 was too scary, and there's something I'd just like to say publicly: Thank you, Capcom. I know you took some heat from people who chew through Amnesia like it's Fruit Ninja, but I'd like to think I represent a community perhaps too timid to admit that scary games can just be too dang much sometimes.
Another thing that's genius about Resident Evil Village is that, despite the central argument I'm making here, it still has plenty of scares in store for the braver of us. Due to its variety, there's bound to be something you'll come across that challenges your courage, no matter how much of a badass you are. Once more, I'll invoke the second main area of the game, and I'll dare any one of you to tell me you weren't looking for the nearest change of underwear after playing that sequence.
It's not fun feeling like you've been left out of the party. Resident Evil Village is the game right now. Everyone's talking about that hot tall vampire and you're sitting there checking on your Animal Crossing villagers. Heed my advice: knock on the door and step into the party confidently, because while Resident Evil Village will test your nerves to their very limits, it'll never break them. You can do this, Ethan Winters.
Need help working out whether you'll be able to get through Capcom's latest? Here's our guide to help you answer an all-important question: how scary is Resident Evil Village really?