Resident Evil Village - Winters' Expansion Review - This Rose Doesn't Bloom
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Resident Evil Village - Winters' Expansion Review - This Rose Doesn't Bloom

The Winters' Expansion includes Shadows of Rose, the first piece of story DLC for Resident Evil Village, which picks up 16 years 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 years. 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 physical 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 combat 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.

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