When Alcina Dimitrescu (aka “Tall Vampire Lady”) was introduced to the world before the first Resident Evil Showcase, many people fell head over heels for the nine-and-a-half-foot femme fatale who sparked enthusiasm for Resident Evil Village in new heights (couldn’t resist that one). However, she is not the only resident of Dimitrescu Castle. Not much is known about Alcina’s trio of mortal daughters who also inhabit the castle, so we thought it was high time to bring things down to ground level and shed some light on Bela, Cassandra and Daniela. (But not too much light, however. They seem to prefer the dark.)
To find out more, we asked Resident Evil Village director Morimasa Sato and art director Tomonori Takano how the design of these three elements came together, including what inspired their creation, the initial concepts of their conception, their obsession with “human blood”, and the fate of those who enter – but never leave – the sinister castle of Dimitrescu.
Lady Dimitrescu attracted a lot of attention on the way to the launch. How did the development team react to this wave of support?
Sato: She was born out of the desire to create a character with a lot of charisma, but we certainly didn’t anticipate the wave of positive reception towards her. The development team as a whole was very surprised by everyone’s reaction.
Concept art for Alcina Dimitrescu, including color palette
Lady D’s wardrobe is inspired by styles from the 60s. What inspired girls’ fashion?
Takano: Their dresses and shoes also hint at 1960s style. However, when we designed the family standing against each other, we wanted to make sure Dimitrescu herself stood out among the crowd. As a result, we’ve outfitted the girls with a more orthodox black outfit reminiscent of what you might imagine traditional witches wearing. If you look closely at the pattern of their dresses, you can see that it is intricately embroidered with floral designs from the Dimitrescu family crest.
Concept art for Dimitrescu girls
Was there a reason the team picked three girls?
Sato: We had a central theme or focus when designing each location in the village. For the castle section, the central theme was the creation of “beautiful horror”. This gave birth to the idea of having several girls appear, all sporting expressions of utter madness. From there we created the setting in which they lived in different parts of the castle. After doing several simulations to determine how many and how often Ethan meets them, we finally concluded that having three of them would be the best game balance, and Bela, Cassandra, and Daniela were born.
How did each girl’s story come about?
Sato: The general theme we asked ourselves was what a beautiful but horrible female antagonist would look like. This was the overall picture we were looking for. We wanted players to also easily differentiate which girl is chasing Ethan at any given time, which is why we added variations with their appearances as well as their personalities.
Which girl poses the greatest danger to Ethan?
Sato: Each girl is as much a threat as the other. Each girl’s personality expresses a different sense of danger and horror. We’ve made each girl their own mix of beauty and horror, so I’m going to leave it up to the player to decide which one fits their preferences when it comes to survival horror.
Does one of the sisters suffer from jealousy of each other?
Sato: Every daughter admires her mother, Alcina Dimitrescu, and loves her with all her heart, so in a certain sense you could say that their constant struggle between them to see who is worthy to receive the love of their mother.
What about the girls so that they fit into the Resident Evil universe?
Sato: They present psychological horror with their manic personalities, and also present physical horror through their artificial bodies made up of many different insects merging together. I think an antagonist has to have both of these fear factors, both mental and physical, to be a proper villain in the Resident Evil universe.
Why do girls perfectly embody the survival horror aspect of Resident Evil Village?
Sato: Since they are made up of a multitude of insects, normal attacks will not bother them. This forces the player to strategize and figure out how to defeat them. This strategic and puzzle element of combat, along with the desperate need to survive, is why I think they are ideally suited to the world of Resident Evil Village.
The girls are reminiscent of classic gothic horror vampires. What was it like to walk in the tradition of gothic and modern horror?
Sato: You will find that many enemies that appear in Resident Evil Village are inspired by many figures you might find in classic or gothic horror. However, in order for them to have meaning in the Resident Evil universe, it was imperative that the girls were “living things.” No matter how much supernatural something may appear, there is always some sort of scientific explanation as to why things are happening. This approach isn’t just specific to Resident Evil Village, but the franchise as a whole, and it was something we were sure to address. When we were building the narrative and the full scope of the game, this was something we were very aware of.
How are the girls’ early design concepts different from the way they appear and act in the end game?
Takano: Since we had used vampires as the original pattern, the original drafts had enemies that would gain strength by drinking blood. There were also ideas of girls mummifying without a constant supply of blood. The concept was fun, but at the same time, there was an oddly comical nature to the expression, so it was ultimately deleted.
From there, we had the idea to make them fly by having wings spread from their heads. This is the basis for some other enemies that you can find in the game. However, one of the orders we had to carry out was to make sure the girls appeared as “bosses”. As such, this concept was also dropped because we needed a stronger differentiation between them and the most common enemy.
One of the first concepts about the girls that stuck around until the very end was that they couldn’t be defeated by normal means, so we ultimately finalized their design as a swarm of bugs.
What mix of emotions do you want girls to evoke in players when they meet them?
Sato: I want players to think, “I hope they don’t show up” while investigating the castle. On top of that, I hope players feel a range of conflicting emotions. If some players think, “They are strong and scary… but they are beautiful,” then we have accomplished our goal.
Can you share specific information about the different concept art pieces or developing versions of the girls provided?
Takano: We had experimented with many variations during the initial phase of development. At one point they had giant scissors. Another design had them with long leech-like tongues. Again, they brandished whips.
Concept of early development for girls
There was also a time when it wasn’t a trio of sisters, but dozens and dozens of sisters inhabiting the castle, all ready to feast on Ethan’s blood. However, after trial and error and testing the tempo of the game, the Dimitrescu family finally decided to be Alcina Dimitrescu and her three daughters. Fun fact, the Dimitrescu family feed on male blood to stay alive, so those poor males who fell victim to it can be found crucified outside of Dimitrescu Castle.
Huge thanks to Mr. Sato and Mr. Takano for taking the time to provide valuable insight into the world of Resident Evil Village! If you want to get to know the Dimitrescu family better, why not visit Dimitrescu Castle yourself? Resident Evil Village is available tomorrow on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4!