Village Was Dialled Down Because Resident Evil 7 Was 'Too Scary'
Ethan Winters has packed his bags and he's off to to the European horrors of Resident Evil Village for a "slaycation" that we don't imagine will be earning the hosts a great Airbnb rating. As Capcom finally unleashes the eighth main game out into the wild, Village is being praised as a worthy successor to 2017's pants-wettingly terrifying experience that was Resident Evil 7. That being said, one of the big criticism claims that parts of Village stray into the comical and lose the series' horror roots. It turns out, there's a good reason for that.
After Resident Evil 6 was panned for ditching horror in favour of cinematics and action, Capcom took this on board and went in the complete opposite direction with RE7. The problem is, the game's legacy as one of the scariest modern games of all time has left the developer in a conundrum when it comes to Village. Apparently, Capcom dialled down the horror because Resident Evil 7 was just "too scary" for some to enjoy.
- Related: Resident Evil Village Review Roundup
Why was Resident Evil 7 too scary?
Discussing the paradox that a horror game can be "too scary", Village Producer Tsuyoshi Kanda told Axios Gaming (via VGC), it's about finding a "balance". Kanda explained, "When we develop a new Resident Evil game, our goal is not always to make it scarier than the previous title, but find a balance to deliver a scary but fun experience for players". Expanding on how RE7 came into play with Village, he added, "Some of the feedback we received regarding [RE7 was] that it was too scary to play. In one regard, that’s exactly what we were striving for, so it’s a huge compliment for us".
With this new (toned down) approach for Village, Kanda concluded, "It's always our goal to create something that anybody can feel comfortable jumping in and playing, so we eased up on the tension curve [in RE Village] relative to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, so that players aren’t in constant fear". Instead of cramming yourself into the crawl spaces of the Baker Ranch, Village definitely feels like a much bigger adventure where you at least have some open spaces to run away from attacking monsters. That being said, it's not like Village without its scares.
Aside from Lady Dimitrescu and her vampiric brood popping up at any given moment - then stalking Ethan around the castle - there are plenty of dark dungeons and crumbling confines to explore. Despite feeling like a very different game to RE7, it's clear to see the influences of Village's predecessor.
Is Resident Evil 7 really too scary?
Personally, the heart-attack-inducing frights of RE7 were what made the game such an icon. After slating reviews that RE6 lost what made the series what it was, it was refreshing that Capcom was willing to prove its naysayers wrong and remember that back in the day, the original Resident Evil was a pulse-pounding experience. Then again a game being classed as "too scary" isn't always the best way to sell copies. The odd controversy can be great PR, but if players can't even pick up a controller, you could be in trouble.
Looking at RE7's VR abilities, it's easy to see how the game might've slipped into the "too scary" category. Trying to evade the Bakers was horrifying enough when you could simply look away. That was nothing compared to hearing heavy breathing and then spinning to see Jack right behind you with an axe. It led to plenty of VR headsets being thrown to the floor.
It's interesting that Village takes a very RE4 approach to its story. The GameCube favourite was a departure from what the previous games had delivered, and it looks like Village has done that once again. While it's still very much a RE7 sequel, there's a sense that it's carving its own path. If you want to give werewolves a trim and stake some vampires, Resident Evil Village (complete with some scares) is available now.
Images via Capcom