With all the focus on the Resident Evil 4 remake over the past few weeks, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that there is still a current Resident Evil game being supported. After the shift to first person in in RE7, Resident Evil Village felt like a real return to the action packed horror of RE4, capped off by a huge emphasis on the ultra campiness that Capcom’s iconic series is so often characterised by. The tonal shift from its immediate predecessor’s claustrophobic and paranoia-inducing atmosphere was somewhat divisive but, taken as a whole, the two main games that make up Ethan Winters’ journey offer the full gamut of what makes Resident Evil tick. But you want more, right?
The end of Village effectively saw the conclusion of Ethan’s story and signalled a shift towards that of his daughter, Rose. The final cutscene of the game is the clear starting point for the storyline segment of the Winters’ Expansion DLC (the part that is the real meat of this add-on content), but let’s see what else we get with this pack.
Included in the Winters’ Expansion DLC is the aforementioned story episode, Shadows of Rose, new levels and characters for the Mercenaries mode, and a much-requested third person camera option for the main game. Access for the multiplayer RE:Verse game is also coming out on 28th October, but that’s available for all owners of the main game. At £15.99, there is a decent amount of content across all the main aspects of the original game and promises to offer up something for everyone.
The third person perspective actually feels like a somewhat backward addition to the game, albeit one that’s much requested by longtime fans. While clearly harking back to the glory days of Resident Evil 4, Ethan Winters is not the action hero that Leon S Kennedy or Chris Redfield is. This means that the mode feels more like a third party mod than a real addition to the game. The first person perspective of the Winters games emphasised the fact that Ethan was a relatively vulnerable character, not a roundhouse kicking combat god like Leon.
In third person, the game plays out pretty much the same, but with your character model often getting in the way, and giving an overall feel of added clunkiness. Ethan has none of the evasive moves of the remakes of 2 and 3 either, so I’m not convinced that the new camera option adds much of worth. That said, it’s an option rather than a replacement, so there may well be others who enjoy it. I actually found the game significantly harder played this way.
And so that brings us to what should be considered the real meat of this package, the Shadow of Rose DLC campaign. Set 16 years on from the ending of Village, Rose has now grown up to be a troubled teenager with unusual powers – a legacy of her time spent with the Megamycete. These powers seem to be preventing her from fitting in and making friends, but you shouldn’t worry that this has transformed the game into a Life is Strange style teen drama.
In fact, the emotional backstory is pretty quickly jettisoned and left as motivation for a surreal and nightmarish journey into the shared consciousness of the Megamycete. One of Chris Redfield’s crack team, known only as K, tells Rose that he has a way of helping her remove her powers and become a normal teen. To achieve this, Rose must create a psychic bond with the Megamycete and find her way through the memories contained within. This absurd premise is perfectly in keeping with the mouldy tone of the past two games and allows for an adventure that feels like a parasitic take on Village – but in a good way.
To begin with, Rose is relatively powerless in her explorations. It isn’t long before a mysterious benefactor, who she names Michael after the archangel, provides her with assistance and advice. At first, this takes the form of a weak pistol and basic shotgun, but as the story progresses Rose will begin to harness her psychic powers and turn the tides on her sinister enemies.
Characters and environments in Rose’s journey are deliberate retreads of Ethan’s adventure, but with a surreal and nightmarish twist. The Duke is no longer a jocular merchant, but instead a sadistic torturer, whilst iconic settings such as the House Beneviento are reproduced but given a whole new dimension of terror. The emphasis in these levels is mixed between combat, stealth, and puzzles that require the use of Rose’s powers and I’m happy to report that the result is a story that clearly relies on the original, but also manages to carve out a space of its own.
Lastly, let’s cover the Mercenaries mode. This was a hugely popular return to the series, but one that didn’t necessarily live up to expectations. I don’t think I’m alone in bouncing off this aspect of the original release and so I wasn’t able to unlock everything that the DLC offers up before this review. For those who made more progress in this mode, though, the expansion brings two new stages and the promise of multiple new characters, most notably antagonists Heisenberg and Lady Dimitrescu. I will continue to work away at this in order to experience stalking the levels as the iconic vampiric giantess, but I haven’t got there yet.