Editor’s Note: This review is for the Resident Evil Village: Winter’s Expansion and specifically the Shadows of Rose storyline. To see our full review of Resident Evil Village, you can do so right here.
Resident Evil is one of those series of games where new versions keep getting released, and so far, each new version adds something new to the mix for players to explore. For example, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard introduced photo-realism to the series that really worked to set the mood in that haunted house exploration type of tale. Resident Evil Village, the eighth title in the franchise, got the series more back to its roots in terms of gameplay, with a large world to explore and lots of interesting enemies to fight in an excellent horror setting that includes gothic castles, a creepy old-world style village, underground tunnels and a manor house filled with killer dolls and other unspeakable horrors.
Like most players, we loved the core game for Resident Evil Village, which earned 4.5 out of 5 GiN Gems in our review. However, there is not a lot of replay value in Village. Much of its charm is in the uniqueness of the enemies and the surprising situations that you are thrown into as you progress through the game’s four main stages. Yes, the creepy baby monster is always going to be horrifying, and the giant vampire Lady Dimitrescu is incredibly interesting, but they are only going to surprise you that first time you play.
The challenge then for Capcom is to produce DLCs and expansions that can keep players entertained and enjoying Village until the ninth version of the series, whatever form that will take, is released. The Winter’s Expansion is their attempt to do just that.
There are three main components to the expansion, which centers on completing the story arc for the Winter’s family. The first is a new third person mode, which lets you play the game more like the classic Resident Evil 4 title. There were already some player mods that did this, but this is the official release of third person mode. And yes, Capcom created some new animations to help that mode go smoothly. The second piece is new content for The Mercenaries expansion, which is that mode where the game turns into an arena-style shooter. The expansion adds three new playable characters, including Lady Dimitrescu herself.
But the reason why everyone will want to get the Winter’s Expansion is the continuation of the Village story through the eyes of Rosemary “Rose” Winters, whose kidnapping as a baby set the whole thing in motion. In the expansion, Rose is a teenager like we saw at the end of Village. Her family is dead, with her father Ethan dying at the end of Village. She is now a ward of the state, going to school and getting prepared (but resisting) to eventually go on missions for Chris Redfield and his secret gang of government mercenaries.
The challenge with an expansion like this is the fact that there is no conceivable way that Rose could return to the Village, much of which was destroyed or severely damaged at the end of the game. Capcom solves this by placing a bit of the magical mold inside a lab near Rose, and then having the sentient mold manipulate her to use her powers to interact with it. That action pulls her into a sort of virtual reality that exists within the memory of the mold. In game terms, this allows players to revisit the locations of Village before they were destroyed, although in a reality that does not quite match up with what it was like prior to its destruction. It’s a bit of a stretch, but players will probably forgive it once they find themselves back in the castle again, but as Rose this time.
The gameplay in the Winter’s Expansion is very similar to Village but with a couple exceptions. The biggest one is that Rose has powers she can use to stun monsters and destroy large swaths of mold that blocks her path. Her offensive powers are limited by how many slots or points she has filled on a graphic to one side of the screen, although she can burn away blocking mist at any time. To refill her power points, she needs to collect and consume white roots scattered around.
Of course, you also have access to a handgun, plus eventually a shotgun and pipe bombs, just like in the core game. And you can craft or find ammo for all of that as well. As she explores the three major environments in the expansion (the castle, the manor house and the Village), she is guided by a helpful spirit who she can’t see, but who writes her encouraging messages in the air and occasionally provides useful items and weapons. It’s pretty evident that the spirit is Ethan, but Rose does not realize this at first.
The Winter’s Expansion allows players to again explore Village’s many cool environments. And if you remembered key passageways from before (like ways to avoid the central courtyard in the castle that is always packed with monsters), then you can open them up again here which is nice. There is even a unique level which is kind of like the Little Nightmares game where Rose gets shrunk down to a tiny size and has to stealthily creep along avoiding an army of killer dolls that are hunting for her.
There are also some light puzzles to round out the mix in the story part of the expansion. For the most part, these puzzles were pretty easy to solve and simply required gathering the right object to unlock a door or figuring out the correct order to remove slime walls using Rose’s powers so that she could proceed. There is also one timed puzzle sequence that is a bit challenging if you don’t pay attention to the clues being given.
Looking at just the Shadows of Rose part of the expansion, there is about three or maybe four hours of gameplay. Experienced players who fought some very terrifying monsters in Village will likely breeze through the challenges presented in the expansion. There is also one final boss battle that is somewhat difficult, but only because the game decides to add several gameplay mechanics in the middle of that fight which can be challenging to pull off without practice, especially if you are playing with a keyboard and mouse combination.
It was nice to see the story of Rose move forward and to get some closure for her and Ethan. Depending on where Capcom decides to take the series, the expansion also opens up the world for the next title which will likely also feature Rose – who has grown a lot more powerful by the end of the Winter’s Expansion.