As many eager PS5 players did, I set a reminder to make sure I could jump into the first of the new Resident Evil Village demos over the weekend. I preloaded the demo, put my phone on silent and waited in anticipation for the latest taste of the new Resi.
While I knew this first demo - which showcased the village itself - only lasted 30 minutes, I didn’t realize how quickly that time would disappear or that the time took into account every second you spent in the demo.
What resulted was a frantic dash to take in as much of Village as I could, solving puzzles as quickly as possible and trying to power through every scene, while watching time quickly tick down.
This article contains spoilers for the Resident Evil Village 'village' demo.
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The Resident Evil Village ‘village’ demo seems to take place fairly early in the game. Ethan has just got to the dilapidated village and encounters an elderly - some unsettling - woman who talks about how the mysterious figure Mother Miranda brought Ethan’s daughter Rose to the village. Ethan should probably head up to the castle that sits atop the hill for the answers that he needs.
The elderly woman makes her departure and the gameplay aspect kicks in. 30 minutes isn’t a long time and, in a Resident Evil game, you want to take your time to take in your surroundings. You are typically rewarded for searching every nook and cranny but, with time against you, that’s not really an option.
I tried to have a look in some of the shacks that sit around the village, to pick up some resources and uncover some lore but, with the clock not stopping for pauses or cutscenes, I quickly realized that this was more like a time trial - for a level I had never experienced.
This particular section sees Ethan aiming to find two crests to slot into the door of the castle, so he can, no doubt, meet the already iconic Lady Dimitrescu. After some speeding about I come across a church which, handily, has one of the crests. Bingo. A map at the altar reveals that the other crest is at Luiza’s house.
As I speed around the village, there’s no denying that Capcom’s latest entry is stunning and quintessentially Resi. The buildings are falling apart and full of ritualistic paraphernalia, the atmosphere quietly ominous and there’s a sense that things could take a turn at any moment. I cycle through the menus and am greeted by a familiar inventory, a slightly updated crafting interface, a tab for key items - the items you need to progress - and one for treasure.
While I see some wells that seem to have mechanisms requiring handles, there’s not enough time to check whether their handles are lying about somewhere: I just need to get to Luiza’s and finish this demo before time runs out.
Lycan it a lot
As you approach Luiza’s, you begin to get a real feel of what Resident Evil Village is about. The field by Luiza’s farmhouse houses a ragged scarecrow and tall grass that seems to be moving a bit more than you would hope. Ethan definitely isn’t alone in the field. Pulling out my pistol, I unleash a couple of shots into the strange movement, feeling the PS5 DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers kicking in. The resistance is subtle but adds to the immersion as a werewolf-esque man emerges from where my shots disappeared. I expected zombies, from Lycans are a whole new kettle of fish and one that I quickly realize won’t back down following a flurry of bullets. It’s time to bolt - time is of the essence.
Behind the field is a smaller house ahead of Luiza’s compound-like farmhouse, I dash in and am met by an older (injured man) and his daughter. Turns out the father has been attacked by one of those things, so Ethan needs to get the gate to Luiza’s open so the pair can get into safety. Easy enough.
But it wasn’t. My own incompetence meant that after jumping the wall into Luiza’s myself, I couldn’t work out what to do. The second crest sat in a locked case, requiring a screwdriver to open and my instinct was that I needed to find the tool - I hadn’t acknowledged the part where Ethan said to let the other two in through the gate. Typically a mistake like this is just a minor error, it means that you feel a bit embarrassed (I do) and then proceed on when you realize. But with just minutes left on the clock, this was an error that meant I may miss out on the rest of the demo.
After realizing that the gate needed to be opened, I let the pair in and a cutscene follows. The handful of the village’s remaining residents have been holed up in Luiza’s and apparently since Rose has arrived, the elusive Mother Miranda hasn’t been protecting the villagers as they hoped. Following a drunken rant from one villager, the injured father (called Leonardo) appears to turn into a Lycan himself, sets the place alight and murders all the villagers bar Ethan and his daughter - with his daughter promptly shooting him dead.
Ethan and the daughter escape the fiery building after, true to form, Ethan knocks down a wall. And then, it stops. “Thanks for playing, here’s the trailer”. I never finished the demo fully.
While you got to give it to Capcom, it’s a fantastic incentive to have fans wanting to buy the full game, I found that I hadn’t really been able to fully enjoy the demo: I was just rushing it. I would have much rather been given a set scene that I could play up to, but I guess that wouldn’t build suspense in the same way. Just a taste will keep players coming back.
The Resident Evil Village village demo is closed again for now. PlayStation players will have a chance to get their hands on the Castle demo on April 24 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET or April 25 at 6pm BST. The multiplatform demo, which allows access to both the village and castle demo, is available starting on May 1 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET or May 2 at 1am BST and allows one hour of gameplay in total: 30 minutes for village and 30 minutes for castle.
What I’ve realized with the castle demo is that I need to use my time more efficiently and then, maybe, when the hour-long demo comes about I’ll finally finish the whole damn thing.
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