Note: This Cloud Version of Resident Evil: Village was tested on 100MB UW Broadband over WiFi along with 5G mobile connection.
The Resident Evil series has seen its ups and downs over the years. After a strong start with the original trilogy (and Code Veronica), Capcom’s seminal horror franchise hit what many would argue to be its peak with the incredible Resident Evil 4, first launched on GameCube back in 2004. After some questionable decisions over the following years that eventually led to a remarkable revival with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Capcom decided to lean on the success of Resident Evil 4 for its latest mainline entry: Resident Evil: Village.
First launched in 2021, Resident Evil: Village continues the story of Ethan Winters, a husband and father that we were first introduced to in the previous game (which, bizarrely enough, is launching later this year on Switch, after its direct sequel — go figure — but has been available in its Cloud Version guise in Japan since 2018). After a pretty shocking opening sequence involving series veteran Chris Redfield, Ethan winds up in a terrifying European village, complete with a vast, ancient castle, a reservoir, an abandoned manor, and a rundown factory. His mission is to rescue his infant daughter, Rose, who is kidnapped and now being held within the confines of the village itself.
Resident Evil’s locations are often as revered as its cast of heroes and villains, and the same is absolutely true in RE: Village. The setting is almost a character in itself, with the village acting as a hub area from which you’re able to locate and access the four other locations. Each area is remarkably unique in its depiction; Castle Dimitrescu is vast and grandiose, with furniture and decor that’s brought to life with exquisite detail. On the flip side, the reservoir feels dirty and grimy, with mud and slime caking every surface. No one location overstays its welcome, with the potential exception of the factory during the latter portion of the game, but even this is exceptionally fun to explore.
Of course, locations are nothing without their respective inhabitants. This is where RE: Village is a huge step up from its immediate predecessor; the range of enemies you’ll come across on your 10-12 hour journey is as impressive as it is slightly daunting. The most prominent enemies are the Lycans, which you’ll encounter multiple times throughout the story; these are effectively werewolf-type creatures that skulk around on rooftops, waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Once one of them attacks, the rest will follow suit, leading to combat segments that easily match up to Resident Evil 4 in their intensity.
Thankfully, then, Ethan Winters is able to combat any attacks with a range of different weaponry, including the basic handgun, a knife, shotgun, sniper rifle, pipe bomb, and more. Ammo isn’t quite as readily available as in Resident Evil 4, but by picking up items such as Chemical Fluid and Gunpowder, you can craft more ammo on the fly. If you’re well and truly backed up into a corner, a quick tap of 'L' will allow Ethan to throw up his hands in a defensive stance, limiting any damage taken and allowing for a swift counterattack to keep the enemies at bay. This version features the gyro aiming found elsewhere, too, if you prefer motion controls.
The true star of the show with RE: Village, however, is its boss encounters. You’ll have no doubt seen plenty of Lady Dimitrescu by now — perhaps a little too much, internet! — and she stands as one of the most iconic boss characters in Resident Evil history. The way she stalks you throughout the castle — much like Mr. X in the Resident Evil 2 remake — is genuinely terrifying, particularly since you’re unable to deal any damage with your conventional weaponry. The other boss characters are just as entertaining in their own right, with a true standout star being the creepy doll character Donna Beneviento, but you could argue that Capcom wasn’t quite ready for how much of an icon Lady Dimitrescu would become, and we’re honestly a bit disappointed how little she is in the game overall.
Nevertheless, RE: Village is an entertaining jaunt from start to finish and it demonstrates Capcom’s excellent ability to pace its horror games to near perfection, having learned lessons in the past. There’s not a moment here that feels wasted, yet you can optionally stretch out the experience to your liking with additional objectives like item crafting, cooking mechanics, treasure hunting, and more. In addition, of course, RE: Village includes the beloved Mercenaries Mode whereby you’ll need to take down waves of enemies for points, though its implementation here isn’t quite as strong as previous entries, with limited levels and characters (though this may be improved somewhat with the upcoming Winters' Expansion scheduled for release on Switch in December).
Of course, after seeing the addendum to this Switch version's title, what you’re all waiting to hear about is how the game runs over the cloud. Honestly, for the most part, we were pleasantly surprised. During our time with the game, we encountered minimal slowdown or visual hiccups, with the most egregious issue occurring in the initial loading screen, keeping us seated for a good five to ten minutes before the action kicked off — likely the result being in a server-side 'queue' on cloud firm Ubitus' end.
In addition, loading up the inventory screen will yield a circular loading icon in place of item assets for a few moments, but this is a minor quibble. As standard with cloud gaming, there was also very minor input latency at certain segments, but again, this was almost entirely unnoticeable for the most part. Overall, compared to our experience with A Plague Tale: Requiem — also a Ubitus joint — this was positively plain sailing.
Having said that, it's still plain that RE: Village is a cloud game being streamed to your Switch. During sections where the lighting is particularly dark, you’ll definitely notice some artifacting going on in the environment; there’s absolutely no way anyone could look at this game and believe that it’s running natively. For that reason, we’d still recommend purchasing RE: Village on a platform that’s able to handle the visuals natively, if possible, because the streaming tech just isn’t quite up to snuff quite yet. We suspect it probably won’t be for a while.
If Switch is your only option, however, then we suggest you try out the eShop demo version for RE: Village first. In Europe, Nintendo has implemented a 14-day refund policy for cloud games if you play for under two hours that might mitigate any potential buyer's remorse, but honestly, just save yourself the hassle. Our own experience with the game was pretty positive, but try out the demo, see if it runs okay for you, then make an informed decision from there, bearing in mind that access will be revoked at some future date.
Resident Evil: Village is an excellent continuation of the mainline Resident Evil series that pays homage to Resident Evil 4 while showcasing its own style and identity. The first-person perspective allows for some truly terrifying moments (though a third-person mode is also on the way in the Winters' Expansion DLC) and the boss encounters are some of the best in the entire series. Of course, running via the cloud means you'll likely come across some hiccups, along with some dodgy load times and potential slowdown. Our experience with this was pleasantly minimal compared to other cloud versions we've played, but be sure to test the demo for yourself. If you've only got access to a Switch, this is a pretty solid way to experience a great game.