Ethan Winters is the newest Resident Evil protagonist on the block, having only arrived in 2017’s RE7. Since Resident Evil Village is just his second game, Capcom naturally spends some of its story trying to develop him as a three-dimensional character. In fact, according to Resident Evil Village‘s director, there was a conscious effort to portray him as a more mature family man.
The setup for Resident Evil Village sees Ethan’s wife, Mia, murdered by series regular Chris Redfield, who then takes the couple’s baby daughter away. Ethan eventually makes his way to the namesake village to save his daughter, discovering an even more sinister situation with apparent witches, vampires, and werewolves. In mechanical terms, the game is a blend of RE7‘s first-person horror and the action-heavy RE4, which likewise shares a rustic European setting.
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Speaking to IGN, game director Morimasa Sato said that, “While Ethan was just a young man who had somehow found himself in this house of maniacs in Resident Evil 7, this time I wanted to portray him as a father.” Both Sato and producer Tsuyoshi Kanda noted family is a theme throughout the game. This comes through in the most immediate sense, as Ethan is trying to protect his own family, but also in references elsewhere – one of the most obvious being Lady Dimitrescu and her three vampiric daughters, Bela, Cassandra, and Daniela. The game’s werewolves, meanwhile, have a lineage, instead of being cursed out of the blue.
Does Resident Evil Have More In Store For Ethan Winters Beyond Village?
Critics have sometimes complained that Ethan was a relatively bland character in RE7, lacking any serious defining traits. Kanda told IGN that part of Sato’s motivation for Village was bringing Ethan’s story “to completion,” so it’s likely this entry is the end of his story arc – warning: spoilers ahead – especially given Resident Evil Village‘s ending. Stranger things have happened in the series, however, which has been known to indulge in tangents and spinoffs.
Video game storytelling often means striking a delicate balance between gameplay and narrative. Protagonists do, of course, need to have some degree of personality, if they’re going to seem plausible and interact with NPCs. Players also need to be able to insert themselves into the character’s shoes, though, so it’s important to offer someone people can identify with, which sometimes means erasing more meaningful traits. Hopefully, Resident Evil Village players are finding things like Ethan’s fatherhood to be a hook that draws them in.
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