Squeezing even more fun out of your games
Telling someone you got scared playing Resident Evil 6 is far likelier to earn laughs and ridicule than hugs of support. This series has had a fear problem for a while now, with recent instalments being about as terrifying as an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Some blame this on Resident Evil 4. It’s one of the greatest games ever made, but many believe its action-shooter approach blasted the ‘survival’ out of survival horror. But what if 4 wasn’t a shooter? With this in mind, I discarded all my guns and decided to see how far I could get just using my knife - the game’s most useless weapon.
The game opens in a mysterious village, where the protagonist, Leon S. Kennedy, is faced with a new kind of human enemy. Zombies are gone, replaced with the sinister Ganados (they’re a lot more frightening than their stupid name). Consumed by the Los Plagas parasite, Ganados are ruthless killers who’ve lost all their humanity, but are smarter, faster and deadlier than zombies, with a high-pain threshold that can withstand multiple gunshots. Not good news for me, considering I only have a shiny triangle on a stick.
But I have a winning tactic. RE4 introduces action moves that can be triggered if you make a Ganado recoil. Shoot them in the face and they clutch their handsome mugs in agony, or go for the kneecaps and they fall to the ground. This leaves them lying defenceless for a few vital seconds. But stabbing Ganados involves getting way too close. Unless I want to be strangled or stabbed myself, this isn’t a good idea. It’s hard to pull this off against one Ganado. Against multiple enemies closing in, it’s plain suicide.
If this isn’t bad enough, some jerk has tied explosive tripwire between several trees. This is usually an easy trap to bypass, as you can shoot the explosives from a safe distance away. Without guns this is obviously not an option, but I know a much crueller way to bypass it. I lure Ganados towards me with my delicious brains/feet/ thighs (whatever these non-zombies enjoy eating) and then watch giggling as they run into the tripwire, blowing up a deadly obstacle and scoring me a gun-free kill in the process.
But there’s no tripwire to exploit in the main village, making this my tensest visit ever. It was always a somewhat one-sided battle,
“When up against a sack-headed, chainsaw-wielding maniacal doctor, my knife might as well be a spoon”
considering the villagers were fighting with axes and knives while I was blasting their heads off with a shotgun. Now that we’re all using knives, it feels like a fairer fight. Until I hear that revving sound, the metal shriek that announces the entrance of Dr Salvador, a sack-headed, chainsaw-wielding maniac who can kill you in one swing. Against him, my knife might as well be a spoon. It’s time to run for my life now.
Nowhere to run
Early Resi encouraged a ‘flight over fight’ approach, with their crap shooting controls and limited ammo. Playing RE4 this way brings back old memories, but it also evokes a feeling the pre- RE4 games rarely inspired: the dread of being surrounded and having nowhere to run. Fans can moan all they want about RE4 taking away the scares but that’s nonsense when you’re running out of ammo and the villagers are closing in for the kill. Armed with nothing but your rubbish knife, it’s even more excruciating.
In the end, my undoing isn’t through stranglings or beheadings, but a tiny lake. To proceed, you need to shoot down some crates that float downstream and become platforms. Now, you’re probably thinking, ‘Why doesn’t this dunce just use a gun to shoot down the crates?’ Problem is, I discarded my gun at the start. So I’m trapped. The last sound I hear are Ganados closing in as I abandon Leon to his fate and turn the console off. If you can’t wait for Resident Evil 7 to try rebooting the horror back into the series, consider a no-guns playthrough of RE4 for a terrifying revisit. Now, anyone up for that hug? Do we really need to tell you who Tom is? He’s all over this damn magazine