One thing Resident Evil 4 absolutely nailed was the creepy atmosphere and gray environment. I suppose those attributes are necessary when creating a game about zombies; things need to be creepy, otherwise, it’s nothing more than a mildly entertaining shoot-em’-up survival game. Though the overall game isn’t intensely terrifying like some of the sequels, there is something slightly unhinged about the village.
The village portion is definitely iconic and lets the player know what they’re up against pretty early in the game. Some might call it difficult, and it certainly is, but I see it as a challenge. This section is what made me respect the game and to this day, my heart still races when I see the outskirts of the village in the distance.
In the Beginning . . .
When the gameplay initially starts, all you have is your basic handgun with 10 bullets: not a lot to start with, I’ll admit. Leon enters an open cabin and inquires about the missing person, Ashley Graham, whom he has been tasked to rescue. Things don’t go as planned and the man residing in the cabin attempts to assassinate him. Left with no choice, Leon “neutralizes” him, as he puts it, and is soon accosted by a few more “ganados” with murderous intentions.
In no time at all, Leon makes quick work of them and heads toward the village. Along the way, he encounters more ganados, maneuvers around ill-placed bear traps, and collects useful items along the way, such as herbs, and money to later purchase and upgrade weapons, and ammunition. Finally, Leon makes it to the village.
Entering the Village:
Hanging around the perimeter, you are given the option to use your binoculars to scope the place out, which I highly recommend. When Leon zooms in, you can see one of the police detectives has been hung up on spikes in the middle of a bonfire with a large number of ganados busying themselves with farmwork.
For a newbie, this portion of the game is very difficult. There are a few reasons for this: (1) your ammunition is limited. Even if you played it smart and conserved as much of your ammo as you possibly could, the sheer amount of ganados that come for you within 30 seconds is seriously overwhelming. When my sister first started this game, she had such a hard time getting past it and died numerous times.
There are so many areas the ganados come from and it’s pretty easy to back yourself into a corner where there’s no escape in sight. Not only that, remember, the ganados are farm workers. This means they have weapons of their own: pitchforks, axes, knives, and torches. Pretty much anything they have at their disposal will be used against you.
The Battle in the Village
With all of that being said, there is a way to circumvent some of this and give yourself an advantage. I won’t say which one, but one of the cabins has a very useful weapon on the second floor. If you can manage to get to that building without being seen, things will be a lot better for you. However, there’s a catch, because why not at this point?
Once you find and enter the golden cabin, a short cutscene will ensue. Leon closes and bars the door with a wooden dresser while the ganados conspire with one another to try and find a way to get to you. Some bang on the windows, others deploy ladders to have access to the top floor, and, last but not least, big daddy ganado with a paper bag over his head and a chainsaw is unleashed.
At this point, the best thing to do would be to GET OUT of there. There are way too many paths for them to come and surround you in no time at all. Fortunately, there are lots of places you can get to so they are all coming at you from only one direction so take your pick. Although I would recommend scoping some of the other cabins out for health, ammunition, and grenades if you can.
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Finally, after what seems like an infinite amount of time, the bell from a distant church chimes, and the ganados stop their assault. Dropping their weapons, they wander aimlessly to a door with a Los Illuminados insignia engraved on it, forgetting about Leon completely. Confused, Leon stands in the center of the village, and looks all around him before uttering the famous line, “Where’s everyone going? Bingo?”
Then, a slow zoom-out with the title of the game. What an opening.
The Game Mechanics
Not only is this portion of the game rather challenging, it subtly teaches the player how the mechanics of the game work. You are introduced to jumping in and out of windows, how to use your knife to use special moves on the ganados who are momentarily incapacitated, propping ladders up against buildings, and how the ganados behave once you are spotted.
Because the area is so large, you are constantly on the move. Staying in one location is not the best strategy unless you are sure you have enough ammo to outlast them and you won’t be snuck up on from behind (that still happens to me sometimes). You can also shoot projectiles out of the air when ganados throw them at you, gather them in a group and use grenades to take them all out, and use the open space to escape when they get too close.
Lots of Goodies to be Found
The village is absolutely LOADED with merchandise and ammunition so check everywhere. Leave no stone unturned or you’ll be sorry. After the ganados head toward the bell, Leon is left alone, finally, and you’ll have the chance to explore the village. The sheer amount of stuff the developers put in this one location is astounding and will help you immensely as you continue on your journey. Search high and low and don’t be afraid to combine some items for enhanced benefits.
Stocking up during this part is essential. Don’t make the mistake of rushing through and missing some stuff. The game will punish you for this because things do not get any easier after this point, if you’re playing for the first time, that is. This also applies to the rest of the game as well but needs to be taken to heart in the very beginning. It’s really easy to get a big head and use your guns for everything or skip over stuff. You’d be amazed at what you’ll find.
The village is a great location and tells the player everything they need to know but manages to keep surprising throughout the game. There are lots more to explore but this is just the beginning. The remake has big shoes to fill.
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.
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