Capcom is hoping to reclaim the zombie crown with Resident Evil 8, so here's what the next chapter of the long-running franchise can learn from Resident Evil 7.
If 2021 wasn't already shaping up to be one of the biggest in gaming, Capcom is here to reclaim its skin-crawling crown with the much-hyped release of Resident Evil Village. The eighth entry in the long-running zombie franchise promises to return to its rotten roots with another game that will up the pulse-pounding scares and ditch the cinematic sequences that dogged the likes of Resident Evil 6. Part of what makes Resident Evil 8 such a promising addition to the family is the fact it comes off the back of Resident Evil 7.
Ahead of Resident Evil 8's full reveal, there were plenty of leaks that confirmed it would be going under the moniker of Village (cleverly spelled out in Roman numerals VIII). Similar to its predecessor, Capcom looks like it's increasing the emphasis of survival horror, while also taking us to a new locale. Not that Racoon City won't always have a special place in our hearts, but now it's a smoking crater in the ground, the story has had to keep finding a new place to call home.
Resident Evil 8 story: How Resident Evil 7 set the precedent
Back in 2017, Capcom breathed some stale air back into the Resident Evil name. Resident Evil 7 cleverly slotted into the convoluted timeline at its endpoint but still told its own story. Focussing on new series of protagonists and antagonists, RE7 introduced us to Ethan Winters - an American systems engineer looking for his missing wife. It wasn't long until Ethan realised there was something very wrong with the derelict Baker Estate and the family residents residing within its crumbling walls.
Described as Texas Chainsaw with mold zombies, Resident Evil 7 cleverly took the story in a unique direction while also having just enough ties to what came before. On the surface, this first-person survival horror was a million miles away from the staple over-the-shoulder angles that made Resident Evil 4 onward a genre-defining franchise. Still, exploring a cavernous mansion packed with monsters from a first-person perspective is an echo of the very first game that saw Resident Evil break onto the scene in 1996.
When it comes to Resident Evil 8, it's a continuation of this offshoot. Gone are the days of Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong, Albert Wesker, Chris Redfield, and Jill Valentine lording it over every entry amidst accusations we're just going through the motions. Even though Ethan was a well-rounded and complicated man, there's a sense we only scratched the surface of his potential. With this in mind, it's great news he'll be back to lead Resident Evil 8 as a potential replacement for Chris.
Resident Evil 8 story: How does it connect to Resident Evil 7?
Resident Evil 8 serves as a direct sequel to RE7. Ethan is back in action and dealing with more marital troubles. After curing his wife of her mold-induced infection, Ethan is pulled back into the shady world of genetic experimentation when fan-favourite Chris Redfield shoots Mia right in front of him. This leads Ethan on a trip to the backwoods of Europe - which is giving us some serious Resident Evil 4 vibes. Apart from the return of these three, there's a whole host of mysterious characters that have their own nefarious motives.
As well as Chris taking on a seemingly antagonistic role, we've seen creepy witches and a band of Victorian vampires. This Hammer House of Horror also looks like it's bringing werewolves to the series, because why not? We've covered so many out-there genetic experiments form the bowels of Umbrella, what's a few more pulled from the pages of classic fiction? You can't discuss anything Resident Evil 8 without picking up on some of the trailer's more cryptic clues. Just who is the smirking man with the fedora and circular sunglasses, and is that really a vampiric version of Claire Redfield hiding the background of the Spencer Mansion-inspired haunt?
On a more basic level, we're expecting Village to continue Resident Evil 7's survival horror elements. Scuttling through the Baker Estate was a claustrophobic experience where the sparse scattering of health and ammo made it even harder than we expected. Raccoon City might've been littered with guns and weapons, but out there in the woods of a snow-filled Europe, you'll have to have your wits about you. RE7 gave us VR support with what was honestly one of the most terrifying gaming experiences we've ever faced, so here's hoping Capcom does the same this time around. We're guessing it's on the way.
Resident Evil 8 story: How it can improve
One thing's for sure, Resident Evil 8 will look glossier than ever. With next-gen consoles supporting 60fps, you can bet the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S will be running the game beautifully. Added to this, Village will use the same RE Engine that made the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 so great. It's also this that helped Resident Evil 7 and Devil May Cry 5 climb to the top of the charts.
Elsewhere, the idea that Resident Evil 8 could lean further into its Resident Evil 4 vibes are too tempting to pass up on. There's a reason why RE4 is largely held as the best in the franchise. Similar to how RE7 cast off the shackles and tried to boldly reinvent itself, the 2005 GameCube title took a big gamble. While we don't know exactly where in Europe Village is set, it's snowy backdrop doesn't exactly channel the unnamed Spanish village from the fourth main series game. Still, the gothic architecture and delusional villagers mean these two could be closer tied than we first thought.
Considering a recent Capcom leak seemingly confirmed a Resident Evil 4 remake, it would be a missed opportunity not to at least have some sort of crossover. It's also interesting to note the first trailer teased, "His story comes to a close". It's unclear who this "he" is, hinting that this could be the end for either Ethan or Chris. The idea of killing off Chris Redfield might seem like a step too far, but after 25 years of battling the undead, making the next game his final chapter would be a surefire way to shift more copies.
If you'd asked someone about whether Resident Evil 8 would work a few years ago, they'd probably have laughed you out the room and claimed developers were just trying to cash in on the success of Resident Evil 4. Thankfully, Resident Evil 7 reinvented the decaying corpse of the Resident Evil name and put the franchise back on track to the glory and guts it deserves. Will Resident Evil Village live up to the legacy left before it or should this one be confined to an early grave? All eyes will be on Capcom in 2021.
Images via Capcom