One of my favorite parts of the game is learning the ins and outs of development, and specifically plot points that may have been changed before launch. “The Tragedy of Ethan Winters”, a complete digital art book included in the Collector’s Edition of Resident Evil Village, provides a ton of those juicy details, including the appearance of franchise anti-hero Ada Wong in an early draft of the story and unused concepts for the game’s villains.
Ada Wong is one of the most enigmatic figures of resident Evil traditions. She appeared often throughout the series, helping the protagonists for as long as she deemed necessary before ultimately doubling them down in pursuit of her own goals. According to the developers, there were early plans to include Ada in Resident Evil Village as a “mysterious masked person” who saves Ethan when he first meets the Four Lords. She would go on to conduct her own investigation of the village, but was ultimately excluded from the game due to “a number of conflicting scenarios”.
In official artwork, Ada is depicted as a thug figure wearing a plague doctor mask and wielding a crossbow.
This design can also be seen in early storyboards which show Ada coming to Ethan’s aid and allowing him to escape from the Four Lords. She played a similar role in Resident Evil 4, save Leon Kennedy of early-game antagonist Bitores Mendez.
Lady Dimitrescu has a striking figure, but she hasn’t always been the elegant giant we know and love in Resident Evil Village. One of the earliest designs had the “spellbinding vampire” wielding giant garden mowers chasing Ethan through his castle, possibly as a tribute to Scissors Clock tower franchise.
The rest of the game’s villains have undergone similar changes. Donna Beneviento was originally an entire ghost family, with “very thin parents” and “children wearing strange masks”. Moreau has always been a “disgusting newt,” but early sketches showed him with a parasite on his back who was a girl he loved. And Heisenberg, rather than a lonely figure in his factory, was conceived as twins who experimented on their elderly mother.
Before Capcom chose Mother Miranda as the Matriarch of the titular colony, Resident Evil Village had a few very different big bad guys waiting for his adventure to end. The first was an unnamed leader of the region’s religion, who would transform into a dragon-type creature that was ultimately used for Lady Dimitrescu’s boss fight. The second was Heisenberg’s biological father, whose mechanical mutation was also used for the boss fight with Heisenberg in the final version.
Just like the Resident Evil 4 Merchant it refers, The Duke is perhaps the most mysterious part of Resident Evil Village. In the end game, he’s just a big guy who follows Ethan around, buying treasures and cook delicious meals, but the first drafts had designated him as the fifth lord of the village. Either way, The Duke has always been designed to be a big guy in Capcom’s determined effort to allow its artists to be more creative with their designs.
Resident Evil VillageS art book is chock full of interesting little things like this. Lightning tower! It was planned to switch history between modern times and medieval times. Early safe part designs used a camera, rather than a typewriter, as save points. The old lady version of Mother Miranda was originally the one the Four Lords followed. Miranda was only a modest researcher at one point in development. The first artistic concepts of the “birth” of lycans show them locked in the mold and emerging like a biting butterfly. And once upon a time there was a great lycan who controlled two of the Townvârcolac enemies resembling wolves.
Phew! Now that I’ve breathed, do yourself a favor and take a look at “The Tragedy of Ethan Winters” if you purchased the Collector’s Edition. It’s a wonderful take-back on the development of this fascinating game. And I haven’t even touched at all Resident Evil 7 concept art, which provides an equally deep dive into the creation of this game. Hopefully Capcom releases a physical edition at some point, because I’ll be the first in the line.