April’s IGN First is packed with Resident Evil Village scoops, interviews, gameplay footage and much more. Today, we can exclusively reveal some never-before-shown concept art for the Internet’s favorite new video game character, Lady Dimitrescu, along with her three daughters.
Resident Evil Village: The Evolution of Lady Dimitrescu and Her Daughters
Art director Tomonori Takano was responsible for Lady Dimitrescu’s design. Responding to the high demand from fans, he previously announced this fearsome character’s height. Although the staggering 9’6” (2.9 meters) includes her high heels and wide-brimmed hat, Lady Dimitrescu still easily beats the height of any human alive. Yet, some of the tallest people in recorded history come close enough to give Lady Dimitrescu’s height a sense of reality, which makes her all the more frightening.
But what about her shoe size? We asked Takano to measure this as well, and he came back with impressive results. Lady Dimitrescu’s shoe size is 44 cm (17.3 inches), which is almost double the average women’s shoe size. She also beats Jeison Rodriguez Hernandez’s Guiness World Record of the world’s largest feet by nearly 4 centimeters. Takano designed Lady Dimitrescu’s shoes based on a real pair of high heels, which he scanned and resized digitally to match the giantess’ formidable height.But we didn’t go all the way to Capcom’s Osaka headquarters just to talk about feet. Together with director Morimasa Sato, Takano told us how the dominant Countess of Castle Dimitrescu came to be, and the two were overwhelmed to see their creation become an internet phenomenon before the game was even released. “We intentionally made the character design a bit more extravagant than in Resident Evil 7, but no, we didn’t see this coming,” Takano says, laughing.
Sato mentions that creating characters that leave an impression was a theme for the game from the very beginning, and the reactions to Lady Dimitrescu’s reveal reassured him that this had been the right choice. “The game’s core concept of a village setting was decided in the early stages of development,” says Sato. “After that, we started thinking about the characters. In order to create an appealing village with a sense of place, the characters that live there are extremely important. For the main enemy characters, we thought about the area each one would be in and the kind of experience they could provide. “The approach of starting with the characters and building an experience from there might feel similar to Resident Evil 4.”
Resident Evil 8 Village Showcase Screenshots
Also set in a village with a variety of locations, Resident Evil 4 is beloved for memorable characters like Bitores Mendez and Ramon Salazar. “There are quite a few other characters with a similar impact as Lady Dimitrescu in Village, so you can look forward to that,” says Sato.
Lady Dimitrescu may not be Village’s only villain, but, according to Takano, her design dates back to the very beginning of the project. He recalls how the team began prototyping the character. “We reused the character model of Mia from Resident Evil 7 and made her wear a dress and hat,” he explains of their early tests. “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.” The art director continues, “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.”
From there, the team created an area and experience to match the newly designed mistress, which became Castle Dimitrescu, a gothic vampire castle. “The original concept was a castle populated only by women,” Sato recalls. “We tried a lot of different things in order to make the Countess scary and feel like a boss character. There were ideas to make her more creature-like as well, but in the end we felt that a towering woman was the most simple yet powerful thing we could do.”Lady Dimitrescu is not just a tall vampire-like dominant woman. Her fashion was inspired by styles from the 1960s, and Takano hopes that this will differentiate her from other gothic villains. “I felt that just doing a gothic aesthetic would be a bit lacking in originality, which is why I wanted to add a modern idea to that premise,” Takano explains. “We looked at fashion from the era in which actresses like Audrey Hepburn were active, as well as The Addams Family. We used these sources as hints to create a less conventional gothic setting.”
Lady Dimitrescu is not the only femme fatale stalking Ethan in the castle – her three beloved daughters are after him as well. Bela, the oldest daughter, is quiet and has a strong head on her shoulders. Cassandra is a sadist who enjoys killing. Daniela is the youngest daughter, and is the craziest and most delusional of the three. “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 explains. “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 says. “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.
Resident Evil Village PlayStation 5 Screenshots
“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.”
This horror experience in which a relatively weak male character is terrorised by imposing women seems to draw inspiration from a type of sadomasochistic fantasy that is rarely seen in videogames. Within the Resident Evil series, Lady Dimitrescu and her three daughters are a threat of a kind that we have never seen before.
In order to guide the series into bold new directions, Sato says that in the planning stages he encouraged the team to try out as many unusual ideas as possible. “We are not the type of team that starts with a niche idea and starts expanding on that little by little,” Sato explains. “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.”According to Takano, the hundred witches in the original concept were to be mostly naked. A giant countess and her three creepy daughters is what that idea became once the team “brought it back to horror.”
For more on Resident Evil Village, be sure to check out five minutes of gameplay on PS4 Pro, and stay tuned for more IGN exclusive content Resident Evil Village throughout April. An open beta for Resident Evil Re:Verse will start on April 8, which can be pre-downloaded now.
Esra Krabbe is an editor at IGN Japan. He can’t wait to get his blood drained by Lady Dimitrescu. Figuratively speaking, of course.