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'Resident Evil's' iconic 'stalkers' return sharper and scarier on next-generation consoles

Christopher Price, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

After teasing fans with multiple demos, Capcom's "Resident Evil" franchise is cementing its 25th anniversary with its newest first-person survival horror game releasing Friday.

A flowery yet haunting bedtime tale narrated by a mother to her infant daughter is the cutscene that begins "Resident Evil Village," set years after the events of "Resident Evil 7: Biohazard."

From the steam hovering over a pot of freshly cooked ciorbă de legume (Romanian vegetable soup) to the lifelike blending of light and shadows in a calm residence's corridors, the series' eighth game looks and feels uncomfortably realistic from the start.

Every cutscene is worth watching in full. But it's not long before Ethan Winters, the protagonist in the previous game, and his family are ejected from normalcy and plunged into chaos.

As is the case with its previous installments, "Resident Evil Village" is eager to show familiar faces, and it's structured in traditional fashion: There are clues to be found. Puzzles to be solved. Loved ones to be saved. And excruciating pain to be experienced.

But one thing particularly worth noting is the clever re-imagining of its iconic "stalker" character type, which is done in a way that feels fresh, scary and anything but ad nauseum.

 

To serve as a stalker, the developers sire a blades-wielding relentless vampiress, and they did so without painfully oversexualizing her (ahem, classic "BloodRayne").

Lady Dimitrescu, the "Tall Vampire Lady" that demo-players have been dying to meet, is an elegant, refined and towering woman who operates as one of the game's patient, pursuing predators. She has quick cutting claws reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands.

Like Edward, underneath her intimidating exterior lies an especially soft spot for the ones she loves — her naive and petulant undead daughters. But unlike Edward, her maternal and protective instincts, super strength and short temper allows her to remorselessly trim more than just hedges.

The stalkers in this installment again impart the three lessons this series has always taught well.

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