No one will blame you for thinking Resident Evil Village (opens in new tab) was a game starring Lady Dimitrescu, a centuries old vampiric mistress looming over us all at over nine feet tall. From her first reveal she was embraced, perhaps unexpectedly for Capcom, by the horny confused masses.
Within days, fanart flooded social media, very good and fun 'How tall is Lady D?' videos popped up on good and fun websites about PC gaming—Resident Evil Village was suddenly thrust into the mainstream, both longtime fans of Resident Evil and the oblivious falling in love at first height.
But, Resident Evil Village is not that game. Lady D makes up about a quarter of the runtime, and while I dig Village overall Lady D feels like a footnote in the end. It's a damn shame.
Warning! Spoilers for Resident Evil Village follow. Finish it first. It's good.
The cool kids
Village's Lady D failings begin with its structure. It's main villain, Mother Miranda, is made out as this mysterious, ancient entity, but because Village is structured like an anthology of discrete horror dioramas, our time with Miranda is saved for the end. And when we do meet her, she's 100 times less interesting than any of her "children": Moreau, Heisenberg, Beneviento, and our favorite child Lady Dimitrescu.
Hell, Village begins with Lady D, but because we're introduced to each minor villain in vacuum sealed chunks of play, the best character in the damn game is gone within the first couple hours. It sets a precedent that everything that follows will match the novelty, presence, and surprise of a 10-foot tall elder vampire that makes blood wine out of people, but Village never quite reaches the same heights again.
I love the Lovecraftian notes of Moreau's sunken fishing village. And his pitiful whimpering, even after his transformation into a huge mutant fish with eyes like blisters crowding his back, is comedic and sad and awful to look at. You can almost smell him through the screen. Beneviento's hallucinogenic fetus monster is the scariest shit in Resident Evil's history, the way it peeks around corners, dragging a mangled umbilical cord the size of a firehose behind it. Heisenberg's junkyard take on mad science is one of my favorite secret lab sequences in the series.
But nothing compares to Lady D stooping over to squeeze through a 7-foot tall doorway, her gleaming white grin easily visible from across the cavernous rooms that make up her opulent castle home.
If these walls could scream
Once Lady D's dead though, there's no reason to return to the castle (you literally can't), and no mystery or tension over the threat she represents. She's shelved and done with after that rad rooftop fight, an incredible design, character story, performance, and all her potential for interesting pursuit scenarios are done for, in and out of Resident Evil's 25-year history within a few hours.
Village would be a much stronger game, and it's already great, if she and the other minor villains were braided into a more cohesive narrative rather than stacked up like a short film collection.
Wesker, the human form of a straight-to-VHS Matrix spin-off got, what, six games as a big bad? Recurring meathead Chris Redfield should've been discharged and put into some intensive therapy three damn games ago. So what's the deal, Capcom? Why make one of the most iconic horror villains in the last decade of horror media and restrict her to a simple sideshow performance?
Lady D deserves Lady DLC, sure, but I think she should get her own game. In Village, the castle is the location with the most history. You get notes of her psychology, lineage, and connection to the earliest experiments with the cadou parasite. All those paintings and decorations and secret passageways imply a darker, deeper, personal story behind Lady D that we only get tiny glimpses into, usually in note form, throughout the castle.
I'm desperate to see more of Lady D interacting with her daughters, harvesting people for their wine blood. Show me the assembly line and the family dynamic that results from running an ancient blood winery. Show me how it came together in the first place. Lady D wasn't always a tall mutant woman. How did she meet Mother Miranda? What were Lady D's parents like? Not good, I imagine.
A prequel the scale of the Resident Evil 2 Remake set in the castle would be incredible. Let's go back a couple hundred years to the early days of Lady D's new life as a mutated, bloodthirsty monster. We could be the human rat in the walls of the massive, mazelike castle as Lady D murders her old family and experiments on servants, the more successful subjects absorbed into her family as her daughters. No shotguns allowed, only crossbows, kitchen knives, and cold air.
Village's pursuit segments with Lady D are great, but surprisingly short. I'd love a persistent Mr. X style threat, a game that emphasizes the contrast in power between Lady D and a normal comparatively pea-sized person.
I guess I just miss Lady D already, so I'm begging everyone at Capcom: Don't let a good thing go.