Preview | Resident Evil Village (The Castle)
Last week, we took a tour of the snowy commune of Resident Evil Village in the early access PlayStation demo. This past weekend, we dove right into the castle demo, exploring the home of Lady Dimitrescu. No longer are we dealing with the Lycans outside, but now we deal with horrifically beautiful witches and shambling figures. We’ve seen parts of this castle before in the Maiden demo, but now we can truly explore the humble abode. Since this demo takes place during the main campaign, there are some light spoilers here.
Upon starting this demo, we find Ethan waking up in a lavishly decorated bedroom. This room alone looks great with the ray tracing graphics, which we had on by default. Honestly, we didn’t even notice any substantial difference in the framerate by turning ray tracing off. Obviously, this takes place after the village demo, but how Ethan ends up in this room is unclear. One can assume he was knocked out at some point by an unknown assailant shortly after entering the castle. Either way, we wake up and immediately begin exploring, even finding a treasure in the form of a Crimson Glass. This item was in the Maiden demo before, even hiding a key inside it, though that isn’t the case here, as the glass is now an item to sell. Checking our inventory, we see that we have our trusty handgun, so we thankfully aren’t left defenseless.
Leaving the bedroom, we enter another room to discover a locked door, encouraging us to find another way out. Thanks to a fireplace, we find a secret passage that leads us out of the room where we discover the Maroon Eye Ring on a statue. Upon collecting it, the statue turns and reveals an entrance to the outer hallway. This hallway leads to the castle entry hall, known only as “The Hall of the Four,” which unfortunately doesn’t give us a lot to do in the demo. We see beginnings of puzzles involving angel busts, a few locked doors, and more. It shows a lot of things that we’ll likely need to come back for in the full game. Like the mansion in the original Resident Evil, we can already see that backtracking is going to be a big part of this title.
There’s not really a lot to do in this corridor, though there are a few areas of the castle you can explore. Even though they currently lead to dead ends, there are some nice tidbits of lore to find. One room houses a painting of Dimitrescu’s daughters, though it’s unknown how old it is. Another shows an elevator that requires something to make it operate. Of course, the main addition in this demo is the addition of the merchant, where players can encounter the Duke. Resident Evil 4 fans will likely be nostalgic of having a merchant, and he even gives a callback to a fan favorite character.
The Duke, like the RE4 merchant, will be found in multiple locations throughout the game. He’ll sell his wares, purchase your valuable trinkets, and even offer upgrades to Ethan. In the demo, we can sell the Crimson Glass for a good amount of Lei (the currency in the game), and make a few purchases. While it’s possible to purchase an expanded inventory in the demo, it doesn’t really seem necessary. You can however purchase a shotgun, or even crafting recipes for other ammo types or landmines. Either way, having the Duke available will likely make Ethan’s quest to save his daughter a bit easier for him.
The way the shop works is a bit interesting to note. You can buy ammo one bullet at a time, and you can buy parts for your weapons. Upgrades work similar to Resident Evil 4, where you can increase things like rate of fire, power, and more. While you can find Lei in various areas, most of your money will likely be earned by selling. Not only will enemies occasionally drop treasure, but you’ll also find it by breaking crates, vases, and more. Treasures you find will range in value, but whatever the case is, those who are thorough will likely end up rich in Resident Evil Village.
For this demo, the most valuable thing you can buy is the shotgun. While there hasn’t been any dangers yet, that’ll soon change. After leaving the Duke in his shop, there’s really only one more place to go, and that’s up the stairs. Those that played the Maiden demo will find some familiarity after opening these doors. While they can’t explore too much of the area, things have changed a bit. Upstairs is a door that now has a statue with a missing eye. Of course, with our Maroon Eye Ring, we can pull the eye to use for as a key. Upon opening this door, the deadly Bela makes her appearance.
This is where we get our first real look at combat with the witch-like daughters of Lady Dimitrescu. Insects will appear around you and you’ll soon see the figure of a woman form from them. Unfortunately, there isn’t any real way to fight Bela. Shooting her has little to no effect, and the knife is just asking to get bitten. Your best course of action? Run. You’ll be able to run from Bela, making your way through the hallways and finding a boarded up wall. Removing the boards, you can fall down a hole, temporarily escaping your pursuer. Last week, we mentioned how running is a viable option, and this element seems to reinforce that.
While taking this path, we go into a crawlspace as we make our way to another room, seeing Lady Dimitrescu before she exits. Unfortunately, there’s no engaging with the head of this house in the demo, as this is just a tease of what’s to come. Continuing on, there’s an ominously lit room filled with stone sculptures adoring the curved walls. There’s a hanging brazier in the center of the room, with two unlit torches. This seems to be a bit of a clumsy puzzle, but all it takes is to knock the brazier toward the two torches. With their fires lit, the room starts to move, revealing a doorway to a dungeon corridor. Those that played the Maiden demo will recognize this as where that demo starts.
While the Maiden demo starts here, there is one key difference. The jail cell that we were unable to open the door in is now unlocked. Moving down out, we encounter deranged human-like creatures. Not quite zombies, these enemies resemble the cultist Ganados from Resident Evil 4. They’ll wield weapons like swords and scythes, bringing large numbers to try and kill you. Remember that shotgun I mentioned? Perfectly valid area to use it. While not as unpredictable as the Lycans, these enemies still tend to be aware of your attack strategy. They’ll dodge and continue relentlessly until you either kill them, or run.
Dealing with these enemies, there’s only one place to go in this dungeon. As we continue to explore the underground corridors of this castle, we find Bela yet again. Avoiding her pursuit, there’s only so many places you can go, though once you reach another boarded wall, Bela catches up to you and attacks, ending the demo. While this demo has more to explore, it is a bit more straightforward. With an enemy that only gives you the option to run, it makes this demo go by a bit quicker. We’ll soon get an hour to explore either the village or the castle this weekend, but there might not be enough to fill that timeframe in one or the other setting. Either way, we’ll be able to fully explore the game soon when Resident Evil Village launches on May 7th, 2021.