There’s a lot happening in Resident Evil Village. It’s an exploration-focused adventure set in an open but compactly designed space. It’s a terrifying horror game filled with creepy characters. It’s a full-blown action experience with more guns than you can fit in an inventory grid. Basically, imagine every idea from the series’ 25-year history. It’s all present in Village.
The end result is a little all over the place compared to the more focused horror of Resident Evil 7. It plays more like an anthology where the gameplay changes every section, for better or worse. It’s hard to really get a handle on where the franchise might go for its sequel because Village presents several visions of what a Resident Evil game is.
It may be time to split the mainline series in two … and the Yakuza series provides a prime example of how that could work.
Ryu ga Gotoku Studios recently announced Lost Judgment, a sequel to the Yakuza spin-off game Judgment. As part of that reveal, the Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi told IGN that the new game would officially separate the series’ classic beat-em-up gameplay from Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s turn-based combat.
“The Yakuza series has been transformed into a turn-based RPG,” Nagoshi told IGN. “On the other hand, over the years, Ryu ga Gotoku Studio has accumulated resources and know-how of making flashy and exhilarating action games that are effortless to enjoy. We decided that we should let our signature action gameplay live on through Lost Judgment.”
It’s an elegant solution designed to keep up with the Yakuza series’ evolution. It gives fans of the classic style an action-focused series to keep up with while further experimenting with traditional RPG gameplay in the mainline series.
Resident Evil could benefit from that same general idea and slightly different execution. Its action and horror don't always mix well. Splitting each off into its own series could help solve that problem without completely axing one.
The groundwork is already built. Resident Evil Revelations previously served as a mainline spin-off that offers an entirely different gameplay experience. It’s been dormant ever since Resident Evil Revelations 2, but Capcom could revive the sub-franchise and use it to break different gameplay ideas off from the mainline games.
It’s a perfect time to make that move heading into Resident Evil 9, though we need to talk Village spoilers to get into that.
The game ends with two branching stories: Directly after the game’s climax, Chris Redfield heads off to BSAA headquarters to find out why it sent living bioweapons to the village. We don’t actually see that play out, though. Instead, we jump forward over a decade into the future to see a now grown-up Rose Winters, who is working under Chris. Considering that time split, it seems inevitable that we’ll be seeing how both of those timelines play out.
If we follow Chris’ story, we could likely get a first-person shoot-em-up filled with military-grade machine guns. Rose’s story could pave the way for something more cerebral, focusing on the series’ horror roots and puzzle box gameplay. Such a split would please the horror purists while developing new ways to build the franchise’s combat mechanics. It’s a win-win situation.
The future of Resident Evil is unknown. A ninth game is inevitable, but it’s hard to know what side of the spectrum its gameplay will end up on. Hopefully, Capcom can find an elegant way to sharpen all of the series’ strengths without cramming it all into one sequel.