Last week, during a showcase for Resident Evil Village, Capcom announced that there would be two different demos for the soon-to-be-released instalment in the popular survival-horror franchise. One would be set in the titular Village itself, and the other would be set in the Castle. Castle Dimitrescu, that is. We know you all want to see the big vampire lady, don’t even try to deny it.
Both demos will be made available on 1 May 2021 – for all platforms – but with a 60-minute time limit within a 24-hour window. However, it was also announced that PlayStation 4 and 5 owners would have early access, with the Village Demo having gone live this past weekend and the Castle Demo scheduled to go live this coming weekend in the same time slot. Each demo has a 30-minute time limit in which to complete it, and is only playable during an 8-hour window.
I went hands-on with the Village demo this week and the impressions are good. You assume the role of Ethan Winters once again, the main protagonist of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. You’re immediately faced with one of the Village’s denizens, a hag who mentions Ethan’s daughter, Rose, who has gone missing. At that moment, a church bell tolls and the hag warns you of the dangers it might bring. After she leaves the area and closes the gate behind her (obviously), you gain control for the first time, allowing you to explore.
If you’ve played Resident Evil 7, then the control scheme will feel quite familiar as they’re pretty much identical. You initially start off without anything equipped, but you do have a knife and handgun in your possession which can be assigned to quick-slots and readied with a quick press of the D-pad.
There isn’t much going on in the village, but that works to great effect as the absence of people coupled with the sound of the wind and your feet crunching in the snow is what really sets the atmosphere. There are one or two buildings that you can enter containing some items, a key and a note about “lycans”. There are also some items that seem to need a key or lockpick but these might only be accessible in the full game. It’s only when you come across a door with two depressions, is it made quite clear what you need to do in order to progress.
Shortly after your lonely trek, you’ll find and make your way through a church and this is where things really ramp up. You’re faced with a wheat field, littered with scarecrows and what seems to be cultist symbols. As you approach, the grass begins to rustle and is enough to send you into an anxiety-ridden state as you wonder what might be concealed within. Head deeper into the field and you’ll finally meet what was making the noise: feral men who seem to be afflicted with lycanthropy.
So, yeah, werewolves. These enemies are fast and can be a challenge to take down, even with multiple headshots. Unsurprisingly, a well-placed shotgun round can take them down in one hit, but ammo is a little more scarce. If you manage to circle left around the cart blocking the road, you’re actually able to see one of these werewolves minding their business, but if you take a shot at them they’ll track you down in a frenzy, leaping around and running on all fours. It’s actually quite terrifying when you see just how quick they’re able to move relative to Ethan.
It was quite relieving to get past this section, for anxiety reasons, but it’s arguably the most exciting part of the demo.
What follows is a series of cutscenes with very little interaction from Ethan. This leads you to the final puzzle piece you need in order to open the door to Castle Dimitrescu. Quickly running back and inputting the puzzle pieces will open the door, Ethan gives the castle a quick look, before he heads off towards it, bringing the demo to a close
The demo is quite short, even without its imposed time limit – which actually causes some anxiety in its own right. However, it’s pretty exciting when you get to the wheat field and the demo manages to deliver on the kind of horror atmosphere that Resident Evil is known for. Hopefully the Castle Demo coming this week will have a little more on offer.
If you’d like to check out a playthrough of the Village demo from start to finish, check out our video below:
Resident Evil Village launches on all platforms – Xbox One/Xbox Series/PlayStation 4/PlayStation 5/PC – on 7th May 2021.