Resident Evil 4. It always comes back to Resident Evil 4. Almost 17 years on from Capcom's horror masterpiece, it's still considered the crème de la crème of the series. Who knows if it'll ever be topped — maybe the rumoured remake could pose the question — but at least there's now a new kid on the block. Resident Evil Village at times threatens the top dog. While it can't quite surpass it, what Capcom does with the second tale of Ethan Winters proves the classic series can still be a world-beater. Fearful of bumps in the night or not, Resident Evil Village is excellent.
Both are completely different games, but Returnal is pipped to the Game of the Year post by the narrowest of margins. Capcom once again takes our top honours for a sublime experience released in May that wasn't truly challenged in the months that followed. Nothing does it quite like Resident Evil.
Lady Dimitrescu is the embodiment of that, shot to stardom prior to the game even launching before delivering a powerful, memorable performance through the voice of Maggie Robertson. And she's only in it for a few hours! Such is the quality of her presence that it sets the standard for the rest of the haunting campaign.
Except Resident Evil Village keeps on raising the bar; it could even be argued the nine-foot six-inch monster is one of the weaker villains. Mother Miranda's cronies range from the grotesque to the absurd, each commanding a part of the village Ethan stumbled upon after fan favourite Chris Redfield steals his daughter and murders his wife. Stunning and immersive cutscenes depict a settlement out of control, further spiralling into utter chaos as Winters comes to terms with what's really going on.
It's an intriguing story — complete with callbacks and references to past titles — that's matched by engaging and fun first-person action. Without an undead horde to inhabit the village, it's left to werewolves and other fantastical beasts to scare the natives into locking their doors. They don't represent a dramatic change for action scenes, but building on what worked in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, enemy engagements succeed in keeping the ammo counts low and shooting the tension up high.
The fun continues with Resident Evil's general approach to gameplay: exploration and puzzles are high on its list as rummaging through the rooms of Castle Dimitrescu or creeping about the factory present both opportunity and satisfaction. That's the thing about Resident Evil Village. It has iterated on Capcom's immediate predecessor in all the right ways. That means it doesn't take nearly as much of a risk as the seventh mainline entry, but since the Japanese developer knows it worked so well, it doubles down with more madness and disorder. Resident Evil Village is all the better for it; the definitive survival horror title for the start of the PlayStation 5 generation.
Where do we go from there? Capcom makes another one and, depending on what's out that year, it challenges for the top spot all over again. Resident Evil is an outstanding series and Capcom is a best in class developer — a match made in heaven. Its latest banger is 2021's best game.
You can read our full Resident Evil Village PS5 review here.
Push Square's Game of the Year list is primarily decided by an internal staff vote. Our community Game of the Year poll is also taken into account. Feel free to agree or disagree with our list in the comments section below!
You can check out all of our Game of the Year coverage by clicking the link.