The lights are on
Call me a wuss, but I was terrified by Resident Evil 4. At the time of the game’s release I hadn’t played the past Resident Evil games. I never played Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, or any other game that could be called remotely scary. As a result, I spent the first 30 minutes of RE 4 walking as slowly as possible, checking every corner for enemies, and running like a scared schoolgirl for a place to hide when the dreaded “enemy encounter” music would begin to creep out of my television’s speakers.
If I was scared already, you can only imagine my fear of encountering the game's signature enemy: the chainsaw-wielding man. Some players might have met the potato-sack wearing mini-boss in the first hour of the game when initially entering the village. If you run to a certain house and find the shotgun, the game decides you are now officially equipped to deal with the chainsaw-revving psycho and forces him upon you. But not me. When I entered the village, I ran straight into a small house on my left, huddled in the corner, and waited it out. After waiting for 15-20 minutes or so, the town bell began to ring, and one-by-one the angry villagers marched out of the area.
When I did meet him later in the game, it was a nightmare. I knew it would happen eventually. The game's original GameCube box art depicts the chainsaw-wielding madman in all of his terrifying glory. There would be some cue, some cutscene, or some indication I would soon face off against the game's poster-child enemy.
Only there wasn't. There was no way to tell what was about to come. I walked out of a house and started making my way down a dirty and neglected path like so many others found in the game. Then I heard it – the chainsaw motor. Around the corner came the man himself, Dr. Salvador, to remove my head from my shoulders. I fired shotgun shell after shotgun shell into the man, yet he kept coming. I turned to run, to open the door I came through, but it was too late. He was on me, and with a painful scream I watched Leon S. Kennedy die the most violent video game death I had seen at the time, the chainsaw biting into his neck and decapitating him in a fountain of blood.
I loved every second of it. It made me realize there was no reason to be afraid. If I had cowered in a corner or somehow managed to get him to chase me through the house and defeat him, I never would have experienced this moment of sheer terror and excitement. Resident Evil 4 is at its best in these low ammo, back-against-the-wall scenarios, where failure means a gruesome end. I soon bought a strategy guide for the game. Included with the guide was a huge poster, depicting Leon and Dr. Salvador locked in their bitter struggle, the chainsaw digging into Leon’s neck amidst a spray of blood. I hung it up in my room to commemorate the moment, and from that point on when I played Resident Evil 4 I wasn’t afraid anymore. Instead, I was simply having a great time.
Email the author Cameron Koch, or follow on Game Informer.