WARNING: There might be some spoilers ahead for Resident Evil Village.
Resident Evil loves its stalker enemies. From Mr. X to Nemesis, from Jack Baker to Marguerite Baker, on a number of occasions the franchise has seen its protagonists coming up against formidable, nearly insurmountable foes that dynamically stalk you through games or sections of games as they seek to hunt you down. Some have had a more lasting impact on players than others, in fact, and the one that’s had the biggest impact of them all is, without a doubt, the fedora-wearing, trench coat-clad Mr. X.
For the vast majority of Resident Evil 2’s remake, the Tyrant doggedly chases after Leon and Claire through the halls of the RPD building. For a good few weeks back in early 2019, Mr. X was all anyone could talk about- and it’s easy to see why. His presence in the entirety of the game was overwhelming and constant, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he is what elevates the game from great to all-time classic. Most recently, however, Resident Evil has given us another stalker enemy- Resident Evil Village’s Lady Dimitrescu, aka the Tall Vampire Lady, has ben on the hearts and minds of one and all for some time now, and for a chunk of the game, she stalks Ethan through the winding halls and corridors of her castle.
But which one of the two is the better stalker enemy? They both have strengths and weaknesses, they both have a leg up over the other in different ways. But overall, which one of them is the more formidable foe? Thankfully, obsessed with Resident Evil as we are, that’s a question we’re all too happy to analyze and answer.
There’s two ways to go about answering that question- we can look at them as characters, and we can look at them as actual gameplay mechanics. Where the former is concerned, it’s not really a competition. Lady Dimitrescu as a character pretty much blows Mr. X out of the water, because… well, by default, really. Mr. X is not really a character. He doesn’t talk, he doesn’t have a personality, he’s literally just a killing machine who is motivated only by the programming of his mutant genes. So Lady Dimitrescu is definitely the better character, in that of the two of them, she’s the only one who even is a character. She functions as one of Village’s major villains, she has a history and backstory, she talks and emotes and interacts with Ethan, and even when she’s chasing after him, she has things to say, rather than just staring him down and angrily stomping down a hallway.
But now we get to the part where we compare the two of them as gameplay mechanics, and things get more complicated. Both Lady Dimitrescu and Mr. X function similarly to each other- they both roam the halls of their abodes in search of the player, and when they spot you, they come after you to try and take you down. If we compare the two in terms of what they do when they actually catch up with you, Lady Dimitrescu has a bit of an advantage. Mr. X decks you and can punch you right into the ground, but Lady Dimitrescu has massive retractable claws that she can use to deal a lot of damage. On paper, it seems like she is the more intimidating enemy.
But honestly, Resident Evil 2 uses its stalker enemy far better than Village does. The game makes up for Mr. X’s relatively limited arsenal of moves in other ways. For starters, he’s usually chasing you through dark, tight corridors, which inherently increases the tension by a great deal. When Lady Dimitrescu chases you, she does so through a castle with high ceilings and large rooms that usually have a lot of space to navigate around, with chandeliers and numerous sources of light illuminating the ornately decorated and gilded walls and furniture. It goes without saying, but the player’s lizard brain will obviously find the dark, claustrophobic corridors of the RPD with blood spatter on the walls, low lighting, and run-down nature much scarier.
There’s also the fact that all too often, moments where you’re being chases by Mr. X have more than a single hurdle. As you’re trying to avoid him or move past him or run out of his line of sight, you might run into a couple of zombies that you hadn’t killed before (especially if you run past broken windows that you had failed to board up), or even a Licker. When these elements come together, Resident Evil 2 really cranks up the horror, and the threat of Mr. X as he bears down on you while you’re contending with other enemies at the same time feels a lot more intimidating. Castle Dimitrescu has some armed zombies in its dungeons, but in most of the sections where Lady Dimitrescu chases you, there aren’t a lot of other enemies to deal with.
Of course, the one factor that works hugely in Mr. X’s favour – even more so than what we’ve discussed – is the fact that he’s just much more of a presence in Resident Evil 2 than Lady Dimitrescu is in Resident Evil Village. Lady Dimitrescu is only one part of a much larger game- her castle is just one of many locations that you go to in RE Village. She’s Ethan’s primary enemy for at most two to three hours in the entire game, and even in that chunk, she functions as a stalker enemy for an hour, maybe a little more. Sure, she makes a strong impression with her design and her backstory and her involvement in the story, and sure, she’s a formidable foe in the short time that sees her stalking Ethan, but she doesn’t stick around for too long.
Mr. X, on the other hand, is the biggest threat you face in all of Resident Evil 2 in more ways than one. He’s a persistent enemy, an imposing presence that refuses to let up for a huge section of the game, in both A and B campaigns. Almost all of your time in the RPD is spent tiptoeing around him, while he even shows up for a bit little on in NEST. Resident Evil 2 does an amazing job of establishing how dogged and relentless he is in his drive to hunt down Leon and Claire, and it does so time and time and time again.
On paper, Lady Dimitrescu has a lot going for her, and if she were the primary villain in Resident Evil Village, it’s highly likely that she could have surpassed Mr. X, even as a gameplay mechanic. As it stands right now though, Mr. X is still the best stalker enemy this series has ever delivered- which shouldn’t be surprising at this point, really. Hell, if Nemesis couldn’t topple him, we’re not sure anyone can.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.