It’s come to my attention that no characters from the Resident Evil franchise are in our Husbando and Waifu Hall of Fame as of yet, so I’m going to correct that with a look at Karl Heisenberg. (We were going to include Chris, but his obsession with continuing the Redfield bloodline when we asked if he might be interested in participating got a bit out of hand. That reminds me, I should give Claire a call – Ed.)
After a brief bit of initial brainstorming about who to select, three things happened – Resident Evil Village Gold Edition was announced, our Editor Pete answered one of the letters from last Friday in greater detail with his piece on “Have you ever stuck with a game because you had the hots for a main character?“, and I started replaying Resident Evil Village, all for the sake of seeing this character we’ve put the spotlight on today.
Side character syndrome in otome games is well documented, but that’s by no means the only genre where it happens, and I tend to fall for it pretty much every time. My favourite characters within any given piece media are usually side characters; they’re underappreciated, and always deserve more screen time and exploration, making their scenes fleeting but all the more memorable and cherished.
My mind’s been full of Karl Heisenberg ever since playing Resident Evil Village for the first time, and I don’t feel I talked about that enough when I first covered it. So here’s to explaining and celebrating my obsession with him.
Who is Karl Heisenberg?
Karl Heisenberg is one of five antagonists in Resident Evil Village. He’s the last one standing in Ethan Winters’ way before he reaches the major big bad of Miranda and, assuming things go well, brings his daughter Rosemary back home to safety.
As one of the Lords of the Four Houses, the alliance of noble families who control the region in which the titular Village is located, Heisenberg encounters Ethan time and time again, always attempting to foil his pursuit of Miranda and Rosemary. This is mostly down to his own intentions towards dealing with Miranda and Rosemary, but more on that in a moment.
As far as basic background information goes for Karl, he is an expert engineer whose dark and dreary base of operations is his family factory. The horrors that take place within those walls show just how villainous a character he is; he’s created countless mutated humans with mechanical modifications after they have been affected by the Cadou parasite. Although his reasoning behind doing this provides some interesting and surprising depth to his character.
Why we love Karl Heisenberg
Since my review of Resident Evil Village, my feelings towards the game haven’t changed too much; I’m still mostly disappointed in it, but I do want to acknowledge how good some of its characters are. The appeal of fan favourite Dimitrescu is obvious — particularly once she starts showing unexpectedly maternal and humanistic affection towards her daughters, eventually bringing out a powerful revenge motive as Ethan picks them off one by one.
The other two Lords offer plenty of emotional intrigue, too, with Moreau being one of the most sympathetic villains in the entire franchise due to him simply wanting affirmation from Miranda as a parental figure, and Beneviento for being trapped in a lonely life, and being nowhere near as dangerous as his peers.
While Karl is unfairly overshadowed by a certain tall vampire lady, he offered something even more complex and substantial that the title just didn’t capitalise on enough. He understand that he has been a victim of Miranda’s machinations, and actively seeks a way to not just overthrow her, but secure his own freedom. It’s understandable, considering his childhood was ripped away from him so he could be brainwashed and serve as a lieutenant for Miranda — as well as part of her forced, dysfunctional “family” unit.
Not only do we not get to see enough of these wonderfully villainous characters that have considerably more depth than previous Resident Evil antagonists, we don’t get the option to side with Heisenberg when it’s such a tempting offer. It would have — for me, anyway — greatly improved the experience of the game, but then, I might be a bit biased.
Why you will love Karl Heisenberg
Karl has it all as a Resident Evil antagonist. His design is Victor Frankenstein meets Devil May Cry’s Dante — that’s already pretty cool, but it gets even better when you add his giant hammer and ability to control metal. He has an insanely flashy, bonkers boss fight where he gives Chris Redfield’s boulder punch a run for its money, and his area of the game’s setting has the best design; it’s atmospheric and challenging while presenting a great balance of Resident Evil’s classic horror and action elements.
He’s also simply entertaining to watch — mostly due to his unpredictable and unhinged personality. You never know what might tip him over the edge where he’ll suddenly have quite the aggressive outburst, but then softly mumble an apology in the next sentence.
It’s clear that he’s quite impressed by Ethan, such as when Ethan responds to an intimidation attempt by accepting the challenge instead of cowering. As we’ve said already, Heisenberg even offers to take down Miranda alongside Ethan — although that idea is promptly thrown out the window when it becomes clear that he has less than wholesome intentions for Ethan’s daughter.
So while he has the typical “comically dangerous” villain attributes so frequently seen in the series — he has no qualms about sacrificing a baby for his plans, and the whole “creating grotesque human-machine hybrids” thing is indisputably evil — he’s also got plenty of “mad scientist” smarts. And this is shown in plenty of more subtle ways; everything he says or does is for a reason. For example, he always wears shades, because otherwise travelling back and forth between the darkness of the factory and the outside would be rough on his eyes. That’s what you call a man who is well and truly prepared.
Voice actor Neil Newbon absolutely kills it in the Heisenberg role, too. He gives him so much personality and charisma — plus his bizarre quirks in pronunciation and line delivery make every scene with him all the more memorable. “Ugly-ass psycho doll” will surely stick in the mind of anyone who has played Village.
I’ll never stop wishing for more Karl, so for now, here’s to as many re-runs of Village it’ll take to quell my desires!
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