EthAMG 2.6 Ai Review

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The Winters’ Expansion includes Shadows of Rose, the first piece of story DLC for Resident Evil Village, which picks up 16 year after that game concluded and introduces Ethan Winters’ teenage daughter, Rose, as a playable character. Rose has unique powers at her disposal that make her feel distinct from the many other protagonists in Resident Evil’s long history, but it’s the shift to a third-person perspective–along with changes in pacing, style, and tone–that set Shadows of Rose apart from Village’s main campaign. It’s more comparable to the recent Resident Evil remakes than either of Ethan Winters’ misadventures, but for as much as I adore those games, I’m hopeful this switch isn’t indicative of the series’ future.

Shadows of Rose begins with the discovery that Rose’s powers have blighted her formative year. The narrative is light on details regarding how her powers manifest, but sweating a white substance is enough reason for spiteful classmates to mercilessly bully her for being “different.” Rose just wants to be a normal kid and rid herself of these debilitating abilities, so when she’s offered the chance to find a cure she jumps at it with little hesitation. However, attaining said cure requires her to enter the consciousness of the Megamycete. This fungal root is not only responsible for the Mold and Rose’s powers, but any humans who made contact with it have had their memories absorbed and stored within. This conceit allows for some fun surprises and also lets Capcom revisit iconic locations from Village’s story, albeit with a few key differences.

The first locale you’re dropped back into is Castle Dimitrescu. The resident Lady of the house is absent this time around, but the castle walls are now inhabited by a villainous version of Ethan’s merchant ally, The Duke, who gleefully dispatches his own creatures to snuff Rose out. These grotesque monstrosities are similar in design to the Molded from Resident Evil 7, except they have a nasty habit of sucking Rose’s face off whenever they get ahold of her. To action these Face Eaters, Rose is aided by an unseen entity called Michael who can only communicate by conjuring written words that appear floating in mid-air and on various surfaces. Michael manifests a pistol early on, and he’ll provide you with ammunition and healing items from time to time, as well as providing hints on where to go next. His presence is more crucial to the story than the moment-to-moment gameplay, but the floating words add a fun wrinkle to chase scenes as it feels like you’re being guided by an omniscient being.

Despite Michael’s aid, killing a Face Eater quickly burns through your finite pistol ammo, even if your head aim is true. The shambling eyesores soak up, and although accurate hits slow them downing a Face Eater never feels particularly satisfying, due in part to the fact they all share the same canned animation. The delightful pop that so often accompanies fatal heads in Village’s main campaign is notably absent, so action has a tame aura that wasn’t present before.

Fortunately, one of your first tasks is to awaken a power that lets Rose focus on an enemy and freeze them in place for a few seconds. Using this ability is limited just like your ammo, but it gives you the chance to unload some lead on an easy target or use the opportunity to run away, adding a slim layer of strategy to some encounters. Freezing enemies isn’t the most exciting of powers, but it gives you a rare advantage over your foes and livens up the stale action a tad. Being able to halt the Face Eaters’ progress is also key because the slow, deliberate pacing of Ethan’s trip to Castle Dimitrescu has been replaced by a chaotic dash through the castle’s halls. The layout is identical in both matters, but familiar paths have now been altered by the presence of undulating pools of black Mold that funnel you down specific routes. This makes navigating much more linear than before, but Shadows of Rose’s frantic pacing makes the castle feel somewhat fresh again.

However, much of the DLC doesn’t offer a lot to get excited about beyond this. There’s some light puzzle-solving in other locations, a few jump scares, and any interesting themes in Rose’s story are only ever explored on the surface level. Resident Evil is known for being campy and over-the-top in regard to its storytelling, so this shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s still disappointing that it doesn’t delve deeper into some of the subjects it briefly alludes to. In a similar vein, a lot of what is there is never really explained, and the story feels very rushed, which could be a byproduct of its brief three-hour playtime. Mostly, Shadows of Rose is just forgettable.

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