With Ashley in your possession, for the time being, the village is finally left behind and Leon is forced to take cover in a nearby castle. Unbeknownst to him, that establishment just so happens to belong to the Los Illuminados, so the welcome they receive is not very polite. To add insult to injury, he loses his connection with Hunnigan, so he has to go it alone for the time being. Resident Evil 4 just keeps getting better and better.
Before you finally move on, there are some new weapons the merchant will sell to you, such as: the riot gun, auto-rifle, and blacktail. From purely a performance standpoint, the blacktail handles the best out of all of the handguns and is pretty solid across all platforms. Also, the 35-bullet capacity is quite nice, though it does slightly less damage than the Red 9.
The riot gun is the most powerful shotgun out of all of them and works well at a distance. The way it looks is pretty dope, as well. Finally, the auto-rifle handles a bit better than the first rifle and Leon doesn’t need to manually eject each bullet after each shot. If you want a more challenging experience, you can stick with the first rifle because it is much more powerful than the auto.
Depending on how you want to approach the gameplay will determine which weapons you will choose. Whatever you decide to go with, regardless of how skilled you are, always make an effort to preserve your ammunition and use your knife whenever possible.
Make sure to have at least one grenade to use later on. I’ll explain why a little later. Okay, moving on.
Infiltrating the Castle:
Just finding a way to actually enter the castle is a task all in itself. Placed strategically atop the walls of the castle are members of the cult (who are also wearing cult-like robes of differing colors) who are trying to prevent you from infiltrating their domain. To do this, they lob large fire rocks in your direction which, if your health bar is low enough, will potentially kill you and most definitely kill Ashley in one hit. Fantastic.
To be frank, if Leon was doing this portion, or the entire game that is, on his own, circumventing these obstacles would be way easier. But this game wasn’t meant to be easy. It makes the experience much more frightening when there is someone on your shoulder that unfortunately can’t protect themselves and is solely relying on you for their safety. Also, it doesn’t really help that she’s the President’s daughter so if Leon fails, he’ll probably be blacklisted from the industry for as long as he lives.
Remember that rifle I mentioned? Yeah, now would be a good time to use it.
20 Years Old Huh?:
We’ll skip ahead a bit so they’re actually inside the castle. After a few seconds, a cutscene plays and we meet the owner of the castle who is a little too pretentious in his unnecessarily detailed introduction no one really cares about or asked for:
“Me llamo Ramon Salazar. The eighth castellan of this magnificent architecture. I have been honored with the prodigious power from the great Lord Saddler. I’ve been expecting you my brethren.” – Ramon Salazar
I suppose that’s one way to introduce yourself.
Long story short, they have a verbal sparring over Ashley before Salazar retreats. As you attempt to proceed, a wall rises up from the ground, blocking the path. In order to make it through, there are pieces to an artistic creation that must be collected and placed in the corresponding holes. Joy.
A Wolverine Knockoff I Guess:
The only place you can go is the right and that is where you will come across your first boss: the Garrador. Infected with the plaga like everything else in this game, he is blind and relies solely on sound in order to find you but is brandishing Wolverine-like claws that can easily take off your head if you’re not careful.
The smart thing to do would be to leave Ashley at the top of the stairs but if you like a challenge, I guess you could keep her with you. Some people think there is only a green herb on the ground for this fight but there are also shotgun shells resting on a pipe up above. Definitely, a more difficult fight if you have a habit of running but if you can manage to stay quiet enough, you can defeat him. I would personally recommend the shotgun for this fight so you won’t have to shoot him as many times.
Just wait patiently until he turns around and blast him. Easy.
The Struggle is Real:
Moving right along, you and Ashley make it to the Water Room, arguably one of the most difficult sections of the game and I’m not sure if that was the game developer’s intention. There are no bosses or creatures you haven’t come across yet. What makes it so hard is the copious amount of enemies that come at you from several different directions which makes you super paranoid since Ashley’s right behind you.
I have a strategy that you can try out if you’re super frustrated like I was. As soon as you enter the room, locate the two crossbowmen at the top of the balconies on either side of the screen. Take them out since they are the main reason Leon dies. After that, equip your TMP, if you have one, and run all the way to the back of the area and enter the only room in the place. Yes, there is a gigantic hole in the ceiling but it reduces the number of paths the enemies can surround you with.
I recommend staying there for at least five minutes. Wait them out and they will come to you. Once they’re all exhausted, you both can step on the yellow platforms and bring out the crank that shows up in the main room. Proceed with caution during this part because either you or Ashley could turn the crank; I recommend using Ashley. While she’s turning, watch out for enemies that’ll come from the stairs looking to either kill or harm her.
Once that’s done, don’t be too hasty.
There is a first-aid spray in a vase where one of the crossbowmen was, so don’t miss out on that by rushing. After you get that, you’ll need to boost Ashley up to a higher level to turn both of the cranks that’ll raise two more platforms in a pool of water. Realistically, I’m swimming across but game logic requires you to do this.
This part is pretty stressful. I hope you conserved your rifle ammunition cause you’re gonna need it.
Not only are enemies accosting you on the ground floor, but on Ashley’s level as well. You’ll have to make sure she doesn’t get carried away while protecting yourself. A little tip: boost Ashley up on the right side first when you first enter this area. That way when she finishes, the platform closest to you raises up and you can chill on that one while she turns the second one. This gives you some extra time to protect yourself since they’ll have to jump across in order to get to you. Also, they always give themselves away right before them jump or drop down by making noise, so look out for that.
Once Ashley’s done, you can go get her and you guys can finally leave.
They’re Channeling “Predator” Energy:
Now we enter what I call the safe room. The only other person in this area is the Merchant with his comforting blue fire. Check around this area for merchandise and money and don’t forget to upgrade your weapons if you want. Once you’re done, save the game and move on to the next section.
I personally love this next part. A cutscene starts and, long story short, the two of you are separated once again. Afterward, Salazar communicates with Leon via transmission and they have a little conversation before Leon heads down into the sewers. This part’s a little scary but not too difficult. The worst part is hearing a gate opening and rapid footsteps before silence. That was pretty unnerving.
Like always, don’t forget to check for hidden areas (specifically on your right) and proceed with caution. These bugs Salazar referenced over the brief call aren’t necessarily invisible but they can cloak themselves in their environment and appear to disappear. One way to get around this is to use the cursor of your weapon to pinpoint them. Whenever you are in line with an enemy, the cursor turns red. A rifle is pretty good to take them out when they haven’t noticed you yet but the TMP or shotgun works best for close combat, in my opinion.
What I like about these Novistadores – Spanish for the Unseener, pretty fitting name – is they always drop something, whether it be ammunition or treasures called either green, red, or blue eyes. Green eyes are the most common, followed by red, and then blue. You can place these eyes inside the butterfly lamps and sell them for 32,000 each. I’ll get to the location of the second one in a bit.
After exiting this section, you entered what used to be the “safe room” only there is now a group of cult members and their leader eerily chanting to a Los Illuminados pendant in the center of the room. To get a little extra cash, you can slowly walk up to the opening unnoticed and throw a flash grenade over the side. Then, quickly drop down and run towards the exit past the stairs. If you can manage to kill all of them, each regular member will drop a spinel while the red-coated one will drop an expensive pendant you can then sell to the merchant.
Once all of that is complete, you’ll have to do a little puzzle to open the gates, obtain a mask with three holes, and reach the merchant. Play around a little bit and take some time to heal up if you need to. The castle is unrelenting at times. Don’t forget to use your knife as much as possible.
“Sagacious as I am, even I get lost here sometimes”:
I’m going to skip ahead to the maze since that part always makes my heart palpitate a little. In order to enter a new section of the castle, you have to find two moonstones located in a convoluted maze with demon dogs hunting you the whole time.
If you can stomach the situation, there’s a red gem to put inside the mask, a first-aid spray, a yellow herb, and ammunition. However, the worst part is hearing the dogs running and panting behind you and when they jump through the hedges directly in front of you.
Once that’s done, you can finally get past the door, have a little catch-up with Ada, and talk to the merchant.
Really Game Developers?:
The next part is absolutely ridiculous. You thought that was the last of the Garrador. The game developers went a little wild and created a boss fight with Leon in a small cage with the Garrador along with the cult members shooting at you from the outside with crossbows.
A little tip, before even entering the room, equip the grenade I told you to save and mentally prepare yourself. Once the cutscene ends, throw the grenade towards the door with the lock and run out quickly. Fighting in that small of a space is absolutely absurd so give yourself some room.
After this part, the game finally decides to show a little bit of mercy to you and gifts you with a rocket launcher at your disposal if you have room in your inventory which you probably won’t. Fortunately, the merchant is conveniently waiting for you up ahead and you can purchase a larger inventory.
In the following part, Saddler stabs Luis, who Leon previously met in the first part of the game, gives Leon drugs that’ll suppress the parasite currently inside of his body, then dies. Poor guy. The game proceeds and you finally come across Ashley again who’s locked up against a wall with metal bands. Using your rifle, you can shoot them and free her.
In the next part, you play as Ashley and it’s awful. Just lots of running around, pushing doors open, crawling around, faking out cult members, and solving puzzles. The hardest thing to grapple with is not having any way to defend yourself and no weapons.
Thankfully, her section isn’t that long and you’re soon reunited with Leon. By now, you should have all of the pieces to the art piece and you can finally move forward. However, if you wish, you can locate back to a specific locked door and it needs another person in order to gain entry. A certain specialized gun awaits you if you do.
I didn’t mention this before, perhaps you’ve already figured it out, but every Saddler painting in the castle has 5,000 behind it. I believe there are three or 4 of them so don’t forget to keep an eye out for those.
Next is to find the Holy Grails for the King and Queen. This consists of fighting knights (I hate that part) and solving a very easy puzzle. Once you replace the cups, Ashley gets taken again by flying Novistadores and Leon is alone once again. If you want some extra treasure in this part, you can jump out of the window, climb a ladder, and find the second Butterfly Lamp I mentioned earlier. In addition, you can also shoot down the hive hanging from the ceiling. It takes a little bit of ammo but definitely worth it in my eyes.
Skipping ahead a bit, there’s a fight with two Garradors and cult members that sneak up on you when you’re not paying attention. To take the pressure off of yourself, you can use the magnum to speed up the process or the rocket launcher if you don’t want to save it for another boss.
The Cousin of the Xenomorph:
Meanwhile, the boss I would save it for would definitely be Verdugo, Salazar’s right-hand man. Definitely one of the harder bosses and scary when you officially encounter him for the first time. He vaguely reminds me of the xenomorph from Ridley Scott’s Alien: terrifying, sneaky, and aggressive. This is where I would recommend using the rocket launcher but only once you freeze him with the nearby hydrants to slow him down considerably.
Soon after this, you’ll find yourself in the mines but I’ll skip that since it’s pretty short and not much happens other than fighting two El Gigantes and more Novistadores.
Going Out With a Bang:
Upon entering the castle for the final time, there is a brief fight with more cult members before finally going against Salazar himself. In all honesty, this fight is pretty easy if you know what to do. Once the battle begins, have Leon shoot the arms extending on either side of Salazar. Then shoot the eye until the actual Salazar presents himself.
Once he’s exposed, lay it on him. Pretty simple. If you’re running low on ammunition, do not despair. There’s plenty of ammunition in that room alone. Just know that there are plagas scurrying around down there so throw a flash grenade over the side before dropping down. For all of your trouble, you’re rewarded with 50,000 and finally able to depart from this decrepit castle for the final time.
In the end, Ada gives you a lift to an island where Ashley now resides after the completion of the ritual. Here, Leon will encounter unspeakable horrors and terrifying creatures that don’t even compare to what you’ve seen thus far. For those who have played before, you know exactly what I mean.
All-in-all, the castle is full of ups and downs and is definitely the longest portion of the game. Leon going through it without Ashley makes things much more bearable but the end goal is to save her, so there’s that.
Just remember, there is a ridiculous amount of treasure to find. Also, don’t be afraid to try out new strategies to get past certain areas. Despite how cool he is, Leon is just one man so do right by him.
The Resident Evil 4 Remake is set to release on March 24th and will be available on Xbox Series X/S, as well as PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.