Resident Evil Village’s DLC made me scared of the doorways in my own home. It happened after an intense sequence in Shadows of Rose, the story campaign included with the new Winters’ Expansion. I figured there was no way Capcom could top the horrifying baby monster from Village, but here we are.
Note: light spoilers about the premise of Shadows of Rose and a vague description of one moment follow.
In Shadows of Rose, you play as Rose Winters, the daughter of protagonist Ethan Winters from Resident Evil 7 and Village. Unlike those two games, Shadows of Rose features a third-person perspective, which was a bigger change than I expected. In Village’s standard first-person view, I was laser-focused on what was in front of me and fearful of what I couldn’t see beyond my immediate vision. With the third-person view, I could always see Rose and her surroundings. That usually meant I was less stressed, but I would be wary of an errant arm grabbing me just before I could react.
One moment ratchets up the terror
Capcom ratchets up the scariest aspects of the changed perspective in the particularly terrifying sequence. I had to tiptoe my way through dark rooms and peer around doorways to make sure I wouldn’t get caught. Because I could see more around me, I was frantically searching the screen for anything that might be hidden in the corners of my vision. And I had to do it while walking backward because of a chilling new enemy that I won’t spoil.
As I neared my goal, the pressure became cloying enough that I had to put my controller down and distract myself on my phone. When I did, I noticed that my hands were clammy with sweat. Once I finally reached safety, despite how scary the experience was, I knew that it was easily my favorite section of anything from the total package of Resident Evil Village.
The rest of Shadows of Rose doesn’t match that high. The campaign starts with a convoluted exposition dump that’s filled with made-up plot words; I only vaguely remembered what some of them meant following my original playthrough of Village last year. Like Village, each section of Shadows of Rose has a different tone, but that means some parts are more interesting than others.
Rose has magic powers, though they’re not very interesting. You’ll solve a lot of puzzles just by activating the magic near a special object. In combat, the powers largely just slow your enemies down. To defeat zombies, you’ll still nearly always have to shoot them. The magic is a novel addition, but I wish it had been used more creatively.
Shadows of Rose is short. I beat it in just under three hours on Casual mode. (I nearly always play horror games on easier difficulties; they’re scary enough as it is!) The length isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ll take a tight, focused experience over a bloated one any day. But you’ll be visiting a lot of places you’ll recognize from the main campaign, so parts can feel like retreads even with the campaign’s brief playtime.
Winters’ Expansion also lets you play through the main Village campaign entirely in third-person mode. This was one of the features that I was most looking forward to, but in the hour or so I spent with it, I was disappointed. Major cutscenes and moments are still in first person, so the game jarringly switches perspectives from time to time. Because I could see more of what was going on around Ethan, some scares designed for a first-person view were less frightening; a flapping crow that made me jump out of my seat when I played Village last year was just a rustling pair of wings out of the corner of my eye in third-person view.
I’d like to play through more of the game — particularly the baby scene — with the new perspective, but I just haven’t had time to get very far. It’s clear that the main game wasn’t designed around the perspective, especially compared with Shadows of Rose, which uses it to great effect.
With the DLC, you can also attack the arcade-y Mercenaries mode with new characters. From the jump, Chris Redfield is playable, and you can unlock Lady Dimitrescu (the tall vampire lady) and Karl Heisenberg. I didn’t spend a lot of time with this mode because I don’t like it. Resident Evil Village is at its best when it’s focusing on scary stuff, not shooty stuff, and the requirements to unlock Heisenberg and Dimitrescu seemed quite challenging, so I didn’t bother.
I was a little disappointed with Winters’ Expansion. Nearly a year and a half after Village’s release, I had forgotten much of the plot that the new story hinges upon, and the additions to the main campaign and Mercenaries weren’t as big of draws as I’d hoped. But if you like spooky Resident Evil, the whole thing is worth it for that one scary sequence in Shadows of Rose, even if it made me nervous to walk through my own doorways.
Resident Evil Village: Winters’ Expansion will be available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, and PC on October 28th. The expansion will also be included in Resident Evil Village: Gold Edition, which bundles the main game with the DLC and will be released on the same day.