REVIEW: Resident Evil: Village-Winters’ Expansion

Resident Evil: Village was one of my favorite games in recent memory, continuing the story of Ethan Winters after the excellent soft continuity reboot of Resident Evil VII. That story brought the horror back into the franchise after more or less abandoning it to Resident Evil IV-style action. Resident Evil: Village is actually pretty close to Resident Evil IV but manages to maintain its own identity as well as mix the action with horror.

Resident Evil: Village-Winters' ExpansionThe Winter’s Expansion update comes with two basic elements: the first being Mercenaries mode where you can play three new characters, including Heisenberg and Lady Dimitrescu. I am not a fan of Mercenaries mode so I can’t really comment too much on this section. I do think it’s a good thing to add to these things and believe a lot of fans will have fun playing a towering giant vampire lady.

The second part of the expansion is something I know a bunch of people will like with third person mode for Ethan Winters. This makes the game play entirely different and while they didn’t update the first person cutscenes, I think a lot of people will really enjoy it. One thing that is flat-out ridiculous, though, is the fact that Ethan’s face is always hidden from the camera. That feels like a joke they’ve played up way too much.

But the real heart of the expansion is Shadow of Rose, which is a lengthy story-based DLC that is well-worth the twenty dollars despite some complaints on my behalf. It is a roughly two and a half to three hour, if you don’t rush it, game that follows the adventures of sixteen-year-old Rosemary Winters. It spoils the hell out of everything in the main game so you had best avoid this story if you want to game. In fact, SPOILER warning for the rest of this review.

You have been warned.

The premise is that Rose has been raised by Chris Redfield after the death of Ethan Winters at the ending of the previous game. There’s no word on what Mia has been up to but the implications is she either abandoned her daughter, is dead, or both. She’s also suffering from “X-men syndrome” and wants to get rid of her powers so she can live a normal life. Well, you know that I hate normalcy.

Rose is guided to one of the remnants of the village’s megamycete and psychically bonds with it, transporting her to a horrific wonderland based on the castle her father infiltrated. It is run by a sadistic and evil version of the Duke and is full of mold monsters similar to the ones from REVII. Oh and there’s a huge number of Rose clones that the Duke murders for fun, possibly numbering in the hundreds.

Rose is helped by a mysterious presence in the dreamworld and if you don’t guess it’s identity immediately, you’ve not read much fiction. However, “Michael’s” ability to affect things is limited to giving vague instructions to Rose as well as occasionally conjuring items. A more surprising guest star is who meets Rose in the 2nd half of the game where you are forced back to the Benevito House to face against utterly terrifying enemies.

Really, the best part of the game is definitely the revisit to House Benevito. Guns and other equipment is removed from Rose’s hands so that she is forced to only run as well as hide from the hands of the monsters inside. There’s also a decent puzzle element. There’s plenty of nods to Doctor Who’s “Blink” but things go absolutely insane, including another Alice in Wonderland nod that includes a kaiju-sized Mia Doll trying to eat Rose.

The castle section of Rose is decent but nothing exceptional and I was annoyed we didn’t get a boss fight with the Duke. The second half, though, is absolutely fantastic, though. The ending is also emotionally enjoyable even if the final boss is a bit of a let-down. It also felt like it was a little railroad-y with “Michael” providing one too many hints about what you should do next and lowering the difficulty as well as enjoyment of exploration.

Still, I really enjoyed Shadow of Rose and the House Benevito part of the game more or less justifies its purchase cost by itself. However, it actually is long enough that I think this was a mistake to release as pure DLC. I feel like this should have been a full-fledged, albeit lowered price game, ala Far Cry: Blood Dragon or Saints Row: Gat out of Hell.

With just a couple of extra hours of gameplay and areas, the Village or Moreau’s mines, then this could have been sold as its own story. It could also have been sold as two separate DLC to be played one after the other given the break between them. As is, it’s a bit long for DLC and a bit short for a full game. Another note is that Rose is in third person the entire game, which is a bit strange given the game is nominally 1st person.

In conclusion, the real reason to buy this DLC is Shadow of Rose. Is it worth twenty dollars? Oh, yes, I think so. Like I said, it’s within spitting distance of being a full, albeit, short game. It has a lot of Alice in Wonderland motifs and a decently-written story. The horror segments are genuinely scary and I wish they’d had more of them in the main game. Of the other features for the expansion, the third-person mode will also please fans who prefer it over first.

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CT Phipps

CT Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He's the author of Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, Straight Outta Fangton, and The Supervillainy Saga. He is also a frequent contributor to Grimdark Magazine.