“We felt that a towering woman was the most simple yet powerful thing we could do,” says director Morimasa Sato.
A new mainline game in a series as big as Resident Evil would have been the talk of the town no matter what, but thanks to the surprisingly rapturous popularity of everyone’s favourite tall vampire lady, Lady Dimitrescu, Resident Evil Village in particular has been hot in the zeitgeist for some time now. In a recent interview with IGN, members of the survival horror sequel’s development team spoke about her, her daughters, and their abode, and how all of these came to be.
The game’s director Morimasa Sato explained that the game’s village setting was decided very early in production, and that following that, the development team moved on to think about the characters that would occupy that space. “In order to create an appealing village with a sense of place, the characters that live there are extremely important,” he said. “For the main enemy characters, we thought about the area each one would be in and the kind of experience they could provide.”
Interestingly enough, art director Tomonori Takano initially started work on Dimitrescu’s design by using the Resident Evil 7 model of Mia Winters with a few changes, before making further alterations to make it scarier. “We reused the character model of Mia from Resident Evil 7 and made her wear a dress and hat,” Takano said. “I thought that this would be enough to give her a ghost-like quality, but we couldn’t make her feel scary. Then, we decided to make the character model much larger. That was the beginning of Lady Dimitrescu. I drew a piece of concept art in which she stoops down to get through a doorway. That’s when I felt that this was going to work out.”
Of course, Lady Dimitrescu isn’t going to be haunting her lavish castle all by her lonesome. In addition to the monstrously tall woman, Ethan Winters will also have to contend with her terrifying witch-like daughters. “Ethan has a family he is trying to protect, so we wanted to have a family for Lady Dimitrescu as well, to provide a contrast,” Sato explained.
Takano went on to explain that the original idea had been to have a castle with a hundred witches, but that proved hard to implement in a game, and as such, was altered to what it is now. “The concept started out as a castle with a hundred witches inside, but that was hard to implement into a videogame format, which is why we ended up making it like this,” Takano said. “But actually, when you play the game you might notice that the setting is still pretty close to that idea. All the enemy types inside the castle are female. With Lady Dimitrescu as the cult’s guru, we have created this hierarchy of women. Men have their blood drained by these women, so you could say it’s the opposite of Dracula. Outside, in front of the castle, you can see bodies that have had their blood drained, looking like skinny scarecrows, and all of them are men. It’s a setting in which women are very strong.”
Sato further explained that through all those, the development team was keenly aware that things needed to stay within the realm of horror. “We are not the type of team that starts with a niche idea and starts expanding on that little by little,” he said. “When trying out new ideas, we start by pursuing something extreme. As we progress, the idea usually starts deviating from pure horror. So in the end we have to bring the experience back to horror.”
Interestingly enough, Takano has previously said that Lady Dimitrescu, her daughters, and their castle are only one section of the game. Capcom has said that Village is going to be a much larger game than its predecessor, and the game’s map certainly seems to suggest that there’s plenty in store that we haven’t seen yet- one can only imagine what horrors might await.
Resident Evil Village is out on May 7 for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia.