The story of the Winters family comes to a close with Shadows of Rose, a DLC that works as a sort of epilogue for Resident Evil Village. While the story lacks any major surprises, Shadows of Rose puts some brilliant twists on the gameplay of Village, creating one of the most atmospheric and intense Resident Evil experiences in years. It’s the perfect five-hour experience for the spooky season and something to tide over fans waiting for the Resident Evil 4 remake.
Shadows of Rose picks up years after the end of Resident Evil Village, with a now 16-year-old Rose Winters desperately wishing she could get rid of her powers. Rose has been made fun of for being different throughout her adolescent years, and now all she wants is a normal life. Resident Evil 7 and Village’s story revolves around a supernatural fungus called “The Mold,” and because Rose was born to mold-infected parents, her powers give her a kind of supernatural control over the fungus, on top of affecting her body in various ways.
A chance to have a normal life pops up when K, a member of Chris Redfield’s Hound Wolf Squad, says that by entering the combined consciousness of the Megamycete (a massive Mold super-colony Ethan encounters at the end of Village) Rose can find a crystal to erase her Mold powers.
As Rose enters the realm of the Megamycete she’s presented with unspeakable horrors, and hunted down by a mysterious masked version of The Duke. The only thing keeping her alive is her powers and help from a mysterious entity named Michael, that writes glowing letters in the environment to guide Rose and give her supplies. Shadow of Rose’s narrative is really more about ending the Winters’ story than it is about showing the future of the franchise. That’s not a bad thing as there are some nice emotional moments packed in, but the “twists” of the narrative are easy to see coming a mile away.
The relationship between Rose and Michael is a core piece of the story, but it also creates an interesting gameplay mechanic that has you interacting with the environment. You need to follow Michael’s guidance to avoid enemies, and in some cases, solve puzzles. It’s a neat way of making the environment an active participant. That’s not the only new mechanic, however, as Rose’s Mold powers are also more developed.
The world of the Megamycete is drenched in a disgusting liquid mold that looks like blood, and stepping in this substance can spell instant death. Areas of the liquid can be removed by focusing Rose’s powers on plant buds that sprout from the mold, and later on, you unlock additional powers that let you stun enemies. The power system doesn’t drastically change things, but it feels like Capcom experimenting with some new gameplay ideas and culminates in a phenomenal final boss battle.
Outside of the basic combat, Shadows of Rose does a terrific job at putting some horrifying twists on gameplay. One section essentially turns into a stealth game as you hide from killer dolls, while another utterly horrifying section pits you against mannequins that work like Doctor Who’s weeping angels, moving whenever you aren’t looking directly at them. Past that, the first section of the game really feels like a proper return to survival horror, with severely limited ammo and a focus on avoiding or evading enemies.
Resident Evil Village had plenty of creepy moments, but very few things that felt downright horrific. Shadows of Rose is quite different, however, with some absolutely gruesome scenes and terrifying enemies, especially the mold creatures that use a Dementor-like face-sucking attack.
Even though Shadows of Rose has a runtime of 5-6 hours, there’s so much variety packed into that that the DLC never feels like it’s dragging. It’s not something wildly new for the series, but rather a refinement of the ideas and mechanics in Resident Evil Village. That means it’s every bit as much of a must-play as the main game.
Resident Evil Village: Shadows of Rose will be released on October 28, 2022, for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.