A reader is surprised to find Resident Evil Village nominated as game of the year at The Game Awards and explains why he doesn’t think it deserves it.
As a much newer media than TV, film, books, and music the video games industry is always looking for legitimacy and ways to prove it is a genuine artform on par with the others. One of the ways it’s tried to do this is through an equivalent of the Oscars. There have been many such events in the past, but in the last few years The Game Awards has emerged as the clear leader, to the point where the others are now largely irrelevant.
And what is The Game Awards? It’s a gaudy advertising event for future games, where half the awards aren’t even announced onscreen and 90% of the others are revealed as quickly as possible so that they can get onto the next advert. It’s so American I’m surprised it hasn’t got bald eagles flying around the auditorium and it’s one of the most crass examples of vapid consumerism I’ve ever seen. Especially as everyone’s only there for the trailers and yet the majority of those are nothing more than a logo and a bit of CGI.
The one award that is given proper attention is the Game of the Year one, which is what I really want to write about today. 2021 may not have been a classic year for games, thanks to the pandemic, but the list of games in contention are very far from the best we’ve had in the last 12 months. Deathloop and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart definitely don’t deserve to be there, and while Psychonauts 2 is quite good overall it doesn’t play well at all and is hardly the best of the best of anything. Although compared to Resident Evil Village it’s an all-time classic.
The short list of other Game of the Year contenders also includes It Takes Two and Metroid Dread, which are good games, but they’re still not as good as Forza Horizon 5 and Returnal, which are not even mentioned. The list is so bad I’m not sure whether Rift Apart is actually the more offensive inclusion, since it’s essentially identical to the dozen other Ratchet & Clank games and has absolutely nothing going for it other than its graphics.
But I am here today to argue that Resident Evil Village is objectively the worst game on the list. It may not be some kind of Cyberpunk 2077 style disaster, but it’s so completely lacking in imagination, variety, and scares that I consider it the most disappointing game of the year.
Village feels like the sort of sequel that an AI might generate if you plugged in all the features of the series and told it to concentrate on Resident Evil 4 for the tone and setting. Except, because it’s an unthinking computer with not an ounce of artistic talent, it just came up with a faded copy that doesn’t understand any of the reasons that the originals were so good.
The main problem is that rather than being a survival horror Resident Evil Village is really just a first person shooter, a really slow-paced, extremely easy first person shooter with only a handful of different monsters. Except for one single moment – anyone that’s played the game will know what it is – the game doesn’t even attempt to be scary, which is absolutely on purpose as Capcom mentioned that people found Resident Evil 7 too scary and so they toned things down.
So there goes one reason to play the game.
You certainly wouldn’t play it for the combat, which although component is extremely shallow and you learn to deal with all the creatures within the first few encounters. All that’s left is cringeworthy dialogue that’s clearly been written by Americans trying to emulate the unintentionally cheesy dialogue and characters of Resident Evil 4, which comes across as pathetic.
The game is so cynical in the way it tries to copy the older games, which were not being ironic at all, with equally silly characters and situations that it actually makes my toes curl. It thinks it’s in on the joke but really it just feels patronising and desperate.
The fact that there’s zero new ideas on how to move the franchise forward is almost not worth criticising but while it’s nowhere near the worst game ever the idea that it could be included in a short list of the six best games of the year is to me ridiculous. If it wins, I don’t know what that says about the games industry and the way it sees itself. But it’s nothing good.
By reader Ashton Marley
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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