Maybe a few of you heard there was a spookedy new "Biohazard" game in 2021? No, not the real life biohazard game we had to play at the grocery store, but Resident Evil: Village, the eighth core title in the series that helped coin the term "survival horror." Kind of funny that it's only the eighth when there's been around, what, 70 or 80 actual Resident Evil games? Something like that. There's like five of them a year, right? There was just something different about this one, though, something really special that we'll unravel as we go along. So special, I was originally going to do one massive article like I usually would, then I was going to make it a series of articles, and then finally tried it out as a couple of video reviews you may have seen already. A jump to video turns out to be something I'm still not really into, unfortunately, but what we're going to do here is pick through the bestiary with the single all-encompassing review I had planned at the very beginning!
Every Monster in Resident Evil 8: Village
So this game is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7, which introduced a mutagenic toxic fungus only known as "the mold," but here, we learn that mold has been used to engineer an even more powerful parasite, the "Cadou," originally mutated from a mold-infested nematode worm! I really appreciate that we've drifted even farther away from the same old viruses. I remember finding it odd, at the time, that the plaga parasites of Resident Evil 4 were a phenomenon largely unrelated to man-made bioweaponry, but now we've seen still other flavors of mutagenic parasite, a mutagenic fungus, and now the Cadou combo platter.
We used to think this series was entirely about monstrous products of genetic engineering, but now we know Umbrella corporation was only a young punk in the monster making scene, and the real unifying element of these games is quite simply that ghouls and goblins exist with biological origins; that "monsters" are all just different flavors of Biohazard. They've got viruses, fungi, and parasitic animals now...they're just missing some bacterial and protozoan outbreaks!
We previously saw the mold on its own turn a single human family into a house of damp and fuzzy maniacs, but the basic hosts of the Cadou become more bloodthirsty, bestial and excessively hairy, effectively werewolves! It's a clever combination, given that we know both lycanthropy and mold for growing fuzz where fuzz ought not to be, though it's also just a really hokey pun in Japanese, because "Wolf Man" is Ookamiotoko, but change a single consonant and you get Ookabiotoko, or MOLDY Man!
This pun was even the concept behind a one-off Anpanman character, a show the vast majority of people in Japan were partially raised by at this point, and this episode would have aired roughly during the childhoods of most people involved with this game. Maybe they just noticed the same easy mold/wolf joke, but it's entirely possible that this was their first introduction to this wordplay.
Regular Lycans are just humans infected by Cadou, but the Varcolac is the result of adding more actual wolf to the equation, and the result is actually a great looking design! The face is still mostly human, but its little blue wolf eyes and greatly enlarged mouth have that special dreadfulness of old creepypasta photoshops. In fact, it looks quite a bit like good old smiledog, doesn't it? The hunched body, elongated limbs and shaggy grey fur complete an effect like some huge, charmingly nightmarish muppet, and the Bloodborne influence is pretty obvious as well. I might have liked the basic Lycans a lot more if they aimed more for this kind of disquieting countenance than just snarling grey people, but I guess the whole point of the Lycans is to be really basic anyway.
Urias is sort of a unique mini-boss monster, a man who was mutated into an enormous giant! It's not the first big ogre-like giant in the series, with others notably created by Plagas in Resident Evil 4, but this one has a more fairy-tale look thanks to his custom tailored giant clothes and big, bushy white beard that is quite possibly also made of mold. An almost ordinary person scaled up to huge size is one of the simplest of all possible monsters, but it's one I think can be effectively frightening and even quite disturbing.
Actually the older brother of the other Urias, this "Sentinel Giant" wears a horned mask and other armor pieced together from chunks of metal and drags around a spiked morning star large enough to smash a dump truck, but what's especially interesting are the many long, pale, flailing tendrils erupting from his back: unmistakably an infestation of gigantic nematodes!
So, here she is, the internet's beloved Tall Vampire Mommy. Everyone knew Resident Evil as that game series with all the grody mutant zombies you blow up, but the very first trailer for Village teased a lady tall enough to throttle a giraffe, and the internet just about lost its mind. People were lining up for this game who never even previously cared about Resident Evil, or horror, or GAMES. There are people whose first video game, ever, wound up being Resident Evil Village because you spend about a sixth of the game being chased around a house and verbally berated by at least three meters worth of woman with one meter worth of claws.
And that is absolutely valid. Love of this character isn't even restricted to the lonely and hormonal; almost anyone and everyone appreciated her theatrical villainy and snazzy fashion sense. It was a kind of camp appeal we just hadn't been getting from mainstream horror games, and wonderfully not limited to this single character alone, as we'll see!
Like I said in my video review, Dimitrescu also works as a solid "monster" antagonist. She's functionally like the Nemesis, Mr. X and other big, relentless pursuers of previous titles, but neither of them were anywhere near this cognizant. A nigh-invulnerable murderous giant with mindless, mechanical killer instinct is scary, but a nigh-invulnerable murderous giant in a fancy gown who mocks and belittles you is a whole different kind of scary. I know some of you are thinking "yeah, the sexy kind" but there are actually also a million people hot for the Nemesis, too, so congrats on just catching up to monster fandom, actually.
She also has another form, but we're going to review that separately.
So Dimitrescu's mutation causes her to require blood, like a vampire, and once she's drained someone entirely of blood, she supposedly conducts mutagenic experimentation on their body. The Moroaica are a common "failed" result of this, women who have been reduced to hissing, ravenous ghouls that guard the castle with swords. There's not much to them; they don't exhibit much more of a mutation other than elongated digits and pale, veiny skin.
Slightly weirder are the Moroaica's flying cousins; these women have forearms mutated into leathery wings and pointed, bloodsucking tongues so long that they permanently hang out of their mouths. I kind of liked them most when I couldn't see their human faces under their rags, and I still think it should have been left more ambiguous honestly, just the tongue protruding from some darkened hood.
Lady Dimitrescu also has three mostly identical spooky daughters, the "ultimate" results of her Cadou experiments: Bela, Cassandra and Daniela, each fought separately as a sub-boss. The physiology of these girls is where things get really weird, kind of confusing, and improbable enough to border more on sorcery than fantastical science, because the three of them are actually swarms of flesh flies. These flies can link together and change color to take on the form of each girl, clothes and hair and all, which as I also explained in a video should not nearly be so hi-def. They should really only be as detailed as a lego sculpture or a human-shaped pile of beans, and I'm going to assume that's precisely the case. We either see them as life-like humans as a stylistic choice or they exude some sort of mind-altering biochemical aura. I still wish they had some more monstrous alternative forms, something I'm surprised a Resident Evil game could even resist doing with a bunch of bugs in people shapes, but they're still great characters with delightfully absurd concepts.
Once you've pissed her off enough, Dimitrescu reveals what she kind of implies to be her truest form. It's foreshadowed a bit with a few dragon decorations throughout her castle, but this dragon looks kind of more like a naked mole rat rolled in pasta, which is to say that it's exactly as beautiful and awe-inspiring as she probably believes it is. I said in my video that I wish Resident Evil monsters didn't trend so hard to grey and brown color schemes, but the colorlessness of this form does make sense for both its nematode and fungal origins. Her many nested jaws also scream "parasitic nematode," and even the humanoid body sprouting out of her back looks woven together from worms and mycelia!
Once you've beaten Dimitrescu, your next goal takes you into a much smaller, but actually much more terrifying home.
The home of our next villain is packed with mannequins and dolls, but they surprisingly aren't the first thing that tries to kill you. Instead, you eventually hear the squeals of a newborn baby echoing through the house - much louder and deeper than it should be - and a long, bloody rope of flesh, an umbilical cord, winding through the halls.
The giant, crawling, toothless embryo is one of the most unpleasant things ever put into one of these games, giggling and burbling like any normal, happy newborn even when it catches you and swallows you whole down its disgusting, drooling gullet. It's a wonderfully hideous design and concept, though sadly, it's not really real! Donna Beneviento's mutation also gives her control over psychotropic, mind-altering mutant plants; inoccuous looking weeds around her house that you can easily overlook.
Donna herself is sort of the "weakest" of the main villains, physically, and her own mutation only gives her a scarred face, but she was able to multiply her Cadou and control a whole network of parasites long-distance, crafting them various doll bodies! Everything she does is through her favorite, Angie, an adorably heinous looking dummy with as shrieking and maniacal a personality as you would want from her design. Inside, of course, she's just a big clump of parasitic worms!
ANGIE & DONNA
Angie feels like the very silliest Resident Evil villain, and still doesn't break the mood of the series.
The final "battle" against Angie is basically a game of hide and seek in roomful of creepy dolls, and on a timed cycle, you're attacked by dolls equipped with bladed arms or spider-like mechanical legs. These might have been interesting as actual enemies, rather than just a cutscene hazard, which I believe was confirmed to be the original plan. Fan wikis also make the assumption that these are "probably" more hallucinations, like the baby, but I think they're just under the control of more parasites.
This guy :(
Moreau is the "loser" of the four lords; he's not smart, cool or strong, he's easily bullied, and he's got an unhealthy obsession with the "mother" who gave them their mutations. His domain is made up of rotting, ramshackle structures around a filthy lagoon, and he thinks he's a "doctor" who performs various Cadou experiments in his "clinic," which is basically a shack.
My only complaint about this character and his segment of the game is the total lack of any other unique monsters. He can create walls and piles of slimy green algae, but he has no trademark swampy minions, there's no sub-boss, they pretty much squandered the opportunities that would have come with the scummy lake scenario and the fact that this guy is a screw-up mad doctor, which means we could have expected some equally screwed-up creations, right?? Shouldn't his place have like, crab people bumping sideways into walls? Blobfish dogs struggling to stand up on land? Apparently it's just his job to try and make all those Lycans, and the Varcolac is one of his rare successes. Once you've beaten up this poor fish, there's only one more of the four main lords, occupying a vast factory facility...
Ths next big bad guy is a modern Doctor Frankenstein kinda guy, transforming mold-infested corpses into messed up, heavy duty cyborgs! It's remarkable we haven't seen much like this in the series up to this point, you would think a whole lot more monsters would integrate machinery in this world of easy biotech. The basic Soldat, the Eins, just has a single drill arm and an easily targeted exhaust port. Apparently these exhaust ports vent enormous amounts of heat from the cyborg's "cadou reactor," and I don't really know what that means. The cadou in these things are just super radioactive, I guess??
An enhanced Soldat has two drill arms, and moves the exhaust port to the back, but come on, once you've figured that out, why keep making them the other way at all?!
This flying upgrade completely covers the upper body in machinery, with a fully mechanized and pretty cool looking head! It's shaped like a small jet itself, kind of reminiscent of a hammerhead shark, but with that single tiny red light for a left "eye."
The Panzer is the heavy tank model Soldat, so thickly armored it almost looks like a deep sea diver. Still with the drills for arms though, aren't there other kinds of weapons?? What's with you guys and drills????
At least this one has a different attack method, and hilarious: from the waist up, it's just an airplane propeller, motor and all! It is not, however, particularly original:
The Soldat in general are kind of directly cribbing from the independent horror movie Frankenstein's Army, and the Sturm is lifted so bluntly that even the film's director brought it up online.
So, this is the guy whose favorite indie horror movie we now know. This scuzzy guy seems to be the second fan favorite after Alcinia, a mad doctor who kind of doesn't really seem like he wants to be involved in any of this nonsense, or at least not have to deal with his three "siblings." His mutation also makes him magnetic, so I guess Resident Evil is delving into x-Men rules.
...He also gets another big monster form, making Angie the only one without. He cranks up his magnetism and encases himself in so much metal, the result is sort of a big blob of scrap with a couple of huge, lopsided arms ending in various rotary saws. You can also see a lot of mutated flesh holding it all together!
The creator of the other four lords and true villain of the game, Miranda was born in the 19th century in the same remote European village she still terrorizes. When her daughter was killed by the Spanish flu in the 1920's, Miranda intended to kill herself in a secluded cave, but stumbled upon a mass of bizarre living tissue, the "mold" supercolony. As soon as she touched it, she made contact with the absorbed memories of countless dead the fungus had consumed for many centuries, including her own daughter, and became one of the mold's first living hosts. Using the fungus to perform "miracles," she quickly converted her village to the worship of the organism, and spent decades conducting more scientific experimentation on her new followers as she attempted to unravel the secrets of immortality and even resurrection.
It's refreshing just how different this feels from the previous 20 some years of "Biohazard" bosses. The mutants and villains in this series are usually pure science fiction flavored, visually right at home with the themes of military biotechnology and artificially accelerated evolution. Miranda, on the other hand, uses her mutation to appeal to an insular religious community and slowly began to see herself as an extension of some ancient, supernatural deity, thus taking on a monstrous form straight out of a mystical dark fantasy story. It's also cool to have a Resident Evil villain with a bird motif; I like reptiles, insectoids, worms, slimes and carnivorous plants, but they're just obvious at this point. A raven-like evil priestess is a pretty striking change of pace!
Finally, we have the thing that Miranda "worships" and the true root of everything happening, both figuratively and literally. The heart of the entire parasitic mold network, Miranda's "black god." We unfortunately only get to see this monstrosity in the ending cutscene, but its final form disturbingly resembles the shape of a fetus - an enormous Cadou - in the center of four massive, fleshy petals, a fungal "blossom" resembling actual nematode jaws!
THE BLACK GOD
With the destruction of this being, the adventure is over...much quicker, it feels, than it should have been. Maybe it's just in my own social media sphere, but I can honestly say I've never seen people fall in love with the villains of a major horror game quite like they've fallen in love with this game's goofy gang of ghouls, and it's clear that the development team felt very much the same, even promoting the game's release with a series of zany little puppet shorts! These games had always exuded a conscious degree of B-movie cheesiness and a sense of self-aware humor, but I don't think we've seen their marketing lighten up to this extreme, to drop quite this much pretense of macho, serious action-horror, and I wonder if the injection of so much levity wasn't influenced by the stress of that real life biohazard we were talking about earlier.
I suppose I kind of also miss the weirder mutant creatures we're accustomed to from these games, but I can see that the team had a lot of fun exploring more classical monster tropes in this one. If you're keeping count, we just creatures inspired by wolfmen, vampires, angels, Frankenstein, possibly the Creature from the Black Lagoon and more, all recontextualized into "Biohazard" logic.
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