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Review: Resident Evil Village on iPhone is a grimly impressive port

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Developer: Capcom
Price: $15.99/£13 [Free intro]
Size: 8.73 GB
Version: 1.1.2
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Resident Evil: Village

Resident Evil Village doesn’t represent the first time a fully-fledged console game has made its way to iOS unabridged – GRID Autosport and Dragon Quest VIII spring to mind – but it is the latest and by far the most visually ambitious.

Indeed, so advanced are the graphics in Capcom’s creepy survival horror, that the game will only run on a very small proportion of iOS devices. We reviewed it on an iPhone 15 Pro, and nothing else aside from the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Apple Silicon iPads (i.e. M1 and later) will suffice.

Resident Evil Village is thick with creepy atmosphere

The first point to acknowledge is that it’s a genuine wonder that this triple-A game from 2021 runs on a mobile phone at all. Beyond that, Resident Evil Village doesn’t enjoy the smoothest frame rate, and it defaults to relatively modest graphical settings on Apple’s latest phones.

You can fine-tune things in the Settings menu, but this will likely be more useful for the range-topping M2 iPad Pro, as well as faster iPhones and Macs (this is a universal app) to come. At least if you want to keep things relatively smooth and crash-free. Despite this, RE Village undoubtedly looks gorgeous, with detailed textures and evocative lighting.

You can fine-tune the lighting and reflection effects

As for the game itself, it’s a grand first-person adventure, filled with tense set pieces, (very) light puzzles, and intermittent fights (or flights) against swarms of supernatural opponents and hulking bosses.

After his peaceful domestic life is shattered in the intro, our beleaguered hero Ethan Winters awakes in a chilly Eastern European town overlooked by an ominous gothic castle. To offer too much more exposition would be to spoil some of the game’s many narrative surprises, suffice to say that things get pretty crazy.

The cast of characters is colorful to say the least

It’s both a strength and a weakness of Resident Evil Village that it features so many shifts in tone and pacing, from tentative exploration to safeties-off action, interspersed by ladles of schlocky Hammer Horror histrionics. This is one of the more uneven games in the recent series, wowing with an imaginative set piece one minute and stretching your patience with lumpen combat sections the next.

One thing that’s essential to mitigate the latter is a good Bluetooth controller. You can play Resident Evil Village using touchscreen controls, but you really shouldn’t. The solid precision of analog sticks and buttons is crucial, while this beautifully ugly world deserves to be appreciated without your thumbs getting in the way.

You really need a controller here

It’s also a bit of a shame that Capcom didn’t rework the menu system for iOS. The franchise-famous item-management screens feel unwieldy on a small screen, especially that of the smaller iPhone 15 Pro.

Resident Evil Village is a very good game, running impressively but somewhat sub-optimally on iPhone. It’s a successful technical showcase and a promising sign that premium mobile gaming has a future, but anyone with a current or last-gen console should probably play it there first.