By Adele Chapline Smith | Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — “Resident Evil Village” (Capcom) is the latest installment in a long-running and popular horror series. Its potential appeal, however, is tainted by a high volume of grisly content.
The game centers on Ethan Winters (voice of Todd Soley), the hero of this survival-themed franchise’s previous episode, 2017’s “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.”
Ethan initially leads a simple but contented existence in the company of his wife, Mia (voice of Katie O’Hagan), and their newborn daughter. His life is tragically altered, however, when kidnappers shoot his spouse and, having knocked Ethan himself out, nab both him and the baby.
When he awakens, though, Ethan finds himself alone. His pursuit of the abductors, instead of leading to the recovery of his infant, lands him in the community of the title, a burg inhabited by monsters and controlled by a perversely bizarre family.
As he continues to track his daughter, Ethan — armed with a variety of weapons, ranging from pistols to machine guns — goes up against zombies, werewolves and vampires. The resulting combat is accompanied by gruesome depictions of gory wounds and even dismemberment.
Sexual elements are more restrained. While the most prominent female character Ethan encounters, a member of the ruling clan called Lady Dimitrescu (voice of Maggie Robertson), sports a provocative gown, nothing genuinely problematic is encountered.
The treatment of occult elements within the narrative is ambivalent. On the one hand, the influence of fairytale legends and classic Gothic stories is readily apparent. But these only serve as a smokescreen since the series as a whole ultimately favors scientific explanations for any events that may at first appear to be supernatural.
The designers effectively create a spooky atmosphere through the use of sparse music and frightening silences. Combined with the tight camera angles of the first-person perspective, this aural understatement keeps players on tenterhooks, wondering what lurks around them in the shadows.
Yet the graphic slaughter that punctuates the suspense thus worked up makes this a poor choice for all but those grown-ups inured to scenes of mayhem. More sensitive gamers will want to skip a visit to this troubled village and sojourn somewhere else.
Playable on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, Google Stadia and Windows.
The game contains bloody violence, disturbing images, occult themes and considerable rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, material whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M — mature.
Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.