Resident Evil Village: Shadows of Rose review – A heartfelt descent into madness

A cerebral nightmare layered with surprising levels of touching humanity.

Shadows of Rose Dead Rose
(Image: © Windows Central)

Windows Central Verdict

Resident Evil Village: Shadows of Rose provides yet another compelling excuse to return to the gorgeous locations from the base game. With a tangible sense of heart and meaningful character development, this campaign expansion establishes Rose as a standout figure in the world of Resident Evil. This delicate story of growth and self-identification is viciously contrasted by psychological horror visuals that will unquestionably haunt players for quite some time.

Pros

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    + Potently emotional narrative

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    + Unapologetic horror direction

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    + Disturbing imagery

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    + Rose’s powers mix-up gameplay

Cons

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    Stealth sections with insta-kills

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    Limited new scenery

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    Some frustrating combat

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When Capcom radically debuted Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, the team promised a healthy roadmap of DLC expansions aimed to supplement the base game. Considering the anticipation and Lady Dimitrescu-driven pandemonium surrounding the sequel, many players expected a similar strategy for Resident Evil Village. However, it wasn’t until after the game shipped and received passionate critical acclaim that Capcom announced its plan to support the title with a campaign expansion.   

Following a somewhat awkward initial declaration from the development team in June 2021, Resident Evil Village: Shadows of Rose was officially unveiled in June 2022. A gameplay trailer featured Rose, Ethan Winter’s daughter, utilizing impressive psychokinetic powers to dispose of horrifying monstrosities. Considering the shocking conclusion of Resident Evil Village, I was incredibly interested to see how the narrative direction would evolve following THAT twist.  

I’ve spent the last few days strapped in the high-top shoes of Rose Winters. While I was expecting the fright-filled horror antics the series is famous for, I absolutely wasn’t prepared for Shadows of Rose to deliver the most emotional storytelling we’ve seen in franchise history. This campaign expansion managed to bring me to the brink of tears and then immediately scare the living hell out of me. Some frustrating gameplay moments dampen the overall experience, but this is definitely a wild Resident Evil journey worth taking.   

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Capcom. The company did not see the contents of this review before being published. 

Resident Evil Village: Shadows of Rose – What you’ll like 

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Transpiring 16 years after the events of Resident Evil Village, Shadows of Rose opens with our insecure hero struggling with pronounced peculiarities. With the tragic death of Ethan Winters at the hand of the Megamycete, Rose has grown up without a father. She despises her unique gifts and the unfortunate side effects of being a strange part-mold creature. But hey, I don’t think any of us would want to profusely drip slimy, white sweat, either. 

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CategoryResident Evil Village: Shadows of Rose
DeveloperCapcom
PublisherCapcom
GenreHorror
Install Size37.6 GB
Players1
Playtime3 hours
Release Date October 28, 2022
Price$20 (Winter's Expansion)
PlatformsXbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, PS4, PS5
Xbox Game PassNo
Reviewed onXbox Series X

Knowing Rose’s identity battles, a colleague offers an opportunity to rid herself of her powers once and for all. All Rose needs to do is link her psyche with a chunk of the Megamycete, and search within its absorbed memories for answers. Unfortunately, this cerebral descent into abstract territory unleashes a flood of distorted recollections and horrendous abominations. I respect Capcom’s commitment to fleshing out the motivations of Rose and presenting authentically disgusting visuals. 

I won’t be discussing any spoilers, as I confidently believe the overarching narrative of Shadows of Rose is one of its strongest traits. The exploration of Rose’s purpose in the world and yearning for a relationship with her deceased father lend themselves to an array of compassionate moments. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I tell you Shadows of Rose brought tears to my eyes, and that is an undeniably impressive feat for any video game, let alone something that exists in the campy world of Resident Evil.  

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Shadows of Rose feels like Junji Ito directed a repulsive adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.

Despite occasional tenderness, this campaign expansion embraces its unbridled horror direction to grisly effect. Shadows of Rose feels like Junji Ito directed a repulsive adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. The mold enemies from Resident Evil 7 are reintroduced in an unbelievably morbid fashion, and Rose is subjected to depictions of terror that would make even make Chris Redfield wince. One standout segment involved playing a children’s game called “Statues.” Let’s just say Resident Evil Village’s scariest instances have some serious competition in Shadows of Rose.  

Much like her father, Rose possesses some superhuman abilities. While Ethan could inexplicably regrow limbs and take endless physical abuse, our protagonist in this expansion harnesses energy to slow enemies and conjure powerful attacks. Shadows of Rose introduces welcomed gameplay mixups not found in Resident Evil Village in the form of fauna-focused puzzles and strategic escape sequences. Rose never felt like an unstoppable force of nature, but it was satisfying to use her otherworldly attacks to navigate this world. 

Resident Evil Village: Shadows of Rose – What you won’t like 

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The House Beneviento chapter of Resident Evil Village infamously stripped our protagonist of his weapons and hurled him headfirst into 30 minutes of genuine nightmare fuel. Shadows of Rose embraces these ideals for the bulk of its three-hour runtime. Unfortunately, this translates to an onslaught of stealth sections with scripted insta-kill encounters.   

Resident Evil is a franchise that has successfully managed to balance action, horror, and player agency to remarkable effect. Shadows of Rose retains many of these key design philosophies, but its ambitions to deliver a more scare-centric adventure ultimately led to slow, tedious meandering around monstrosities pacing familiar paths. I understand how helplessness elevates the sensation of fear in video games. Still, I couldn’t help but find the reliance on these overplayed mechanics in Shadows of Rose a bit tiresome.

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Unlike the core Resident Evil Village campaign, this expansion fails to find the proper gameplay equilibrium. 

Rose is gifted the commanding power to slow enemies. While this introduces welcomed experimentation to traditional Resident Evil combat, it also gives the development team free rein to force the player into a series of frustrating battles. Shadows of Rose primarily requires careful deliberations between fight or flight, making the forced boss-style showdowns all the more trying. Unlike the core Resident Evil Village campaign, this expansion fails to find the proper gameplay equilibrium.   

Another relatively minor gripe involves the heavy reliance on retreading familiar scenery. Resident Evil Village is bursting with stunning set pieces and gorgeous locations, so it makes sense to incorporate them into Shadows of Rose. Sadly, a majority of these reused environments remain essentially unchanged from the base game, making particular progression markers and even puzzles feel way too similar to stand out. 

Resident Evil Village: Shadows of Rose – Should you play?

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Resident Evil is in an amazing place right now. Capcom has committed to providing fans excellent remakes that reimagine their favorite games while pushing the series forward with inventive new mainline releases. Shadows of Rose doesn’t quite reach the same soaring heights as Resident Evil Village, but it stands as a worthy continuation of its story.  

The engrossing, haunting visuals and beautifully presented narrative moments more than makeup for some dreary stealth and irritating combat. As someone who finished Resident Evil Village eight times, this campaign expansion is a justifiable reason to revisit one of the best horror games on Xbox and uncover its more profound mysteries. Shadows of Rose answers burning questions left lingering after the events of Resident Evil Village and presents a fascinating setup for what’s to come. 

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Resident Evil Village Gold Edition  

Shadows of Rose is included with Resident Evil Village Gold Edition. This brimming bundle consists of the base game, the campaign expansion, a third-person mode, and updated content for the Mercenaries. One of the best games of 2021, just got a whole lot better.   

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Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.