Coming about 18 months after the original Resident Evil Village released, the DLC that was only born of fan demand has finally arrived. Shadows of Rose fills in more of the Winters’ story, rounds out Rose and Ethan’s tale, and gives us some good spooks and frights along the way. I did come away feeling there could have been a touch more to it, but as it is this is a great excuse to revisit some iconic locations and characters.
Mild spoilers for Village follow:
Those who have played Village will remember that the main driving force of Ethan Winters adventure was to rescue his daughter Rose from the inhabitants of the village after she was unceremoniously divided between them – in little jars no less. Having successfully saved her (albeit with him dying in the process) we pick up with Rose as a teenager, dealing with typical teenage stuff – bullies, name calling, school pressures – in addition to having mutant powers as a result of the aforementioned spell near the mold that has infected the prior two games characters.
When Agent Kay meets her, she’s feeling lost and down and just wants to be a normal teenager. He alludes to having discovered a way that she may be able to rid herself of the mold and her powers, to which she jumps at the chance without a second thought. Harmonising with a sample of the Megamycete she finds herself dropped into a twisted alternate reality, back in the village and it’s more prominent locales, starting with the Dimitrescu mansion.
A strange, pulsating liquid covers the floors and walls and things feel about as unsettling as we like to see from a Resident Evil game. Before long, Rose is confronted not only by abominations that rise up out of the liquid to attack her, but also multiple doppelgängers of her – most of which found in horrifyingly twisted and devoured states. Round this off with an evil version of the Merchant and we’re immediately thrown in the deep end. Not wanting to spoil the roughly three hour story any further, I’ll just say it only gets weirder from here.
What follows is pretty traditional RE survival horror, with Rose needing to find several items in order to progress through areas (most of which are tantalisingly out of easy reach) as well as deal with – or run from – powerful enemies. She is handy with a gun or two though ammo is pretty scarce early on, but she also has two tricks up her sleeve.
The first is a mysterious helper by the name of Michael. This person writes hints on walls and summons items to help Rose as moves through the game and, despite only having a couple of words to respond to at a time, Capcom manage to tell an interesting and heartfelt story throughout. It never veers far from classic Resi B-movie type stuff, but Rose feels far more relatable than some of the cast we’ve dealt with in past titles. Even when she’s being a pain in the ass, stubborn teenager, I still felt invested in helping her heal and move on.
Secondly, she might as well use those mold-based powers while she still had them. Upgraded at certain points in the story, she’s able to aim at enemies to freeze them in place for a moment or open up new pathways, though later she’s able to deal a bit more damage to some foes. Each new upgrade allows her to use it more times before needing a sprig of white sage to replenish her ability.
Combat encounters then force us to keep Rose on the move while also braving danger to fight back with guns and powers. She isn’t a capable fighter close range, and only takes a couple of hits to be killed. Perhaps my biggest gripe is how clunky most of the combat sections felt. Too often I found myself cornered with no mold power left and very little ammo, while the third person camera didn’t feel as well implemented as in RE2 or RE3 to me. One section early on featured an unkillable threat chasing us through tight corridors while also dodging regular enemies; I found it hard to keep track of my route as well as easily see where the enemies were or how much time I had until the big bastard was on top of me.
Some of the slower paced parts felt much better but in a three hour game there were one too many set-piece moments like the above that weren’t scary as much as annoyingly crafted.
Beyond the opening act I found things picked up again for me though, with some excellent twists on some of my favourite moments in Village. Again, no spoilers, but one particular set-piece chase was so well crafted that in between scares I found myself grinning at the clever use of mechanics and level design.
Unfortunately the final fight was a bit of let-down, falling victim to the old trope of our hero suddenly gaining ultimate power and kinda wiping the floor with the big bad boss, though it was at least brief enough to not be too much of a downer.
I feel that the length of Shadows of Rose is just about perfect for a DLC, though there are definitely one or two sections that let the overall package down. And while the puzzles are short and sweet there was a distinct lack of true puzzle solving going on, with us mostly just following along the only way we could go and the next solution kind of being handed to us on the way. This kept the pace up but also meant there was little room for exploration.
The Winters’ Expansion – which includes Shadows of Rose – also comes with new characters for Mercenary Orders (such as Chris Redfield and Lady Dimitrescu) as well as the ability to play the entire of Village in third person. While these are nice adds to have – Chris is especially potent to play as – this review is based solely on my time with Shadows of Rose.
Shadows of Rose is a good way to finish off the tale of Rose, Ethan and some other threads left over from Resident Evil Village. There are a few niggles that sour things a little, but these are made up for by the excellence of the other parts.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.