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Resident Evil 4 (2005) | History of Horror

Pierce Turner

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Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at unfspinnaker.com every day for a new installment!

Let’s just get this out of the way: “Resident Evil 4” is one of the best video games ever made, and my favorite game of all time and existence. There. Now that that’s off my chest, let’s have a intellectual discussion about it.

We already talked about the original Resident Evil and its remake, so why is it worth mentioning the fourth title? Well, RE4 literally changed gaming forever. It is so different from the first three games in the series that you wouldn’t be able to tell it’s even a Resident Evil game. It swaps fixed camera angles and robotic combat for an over-the-shoulder camera and revolutionary third-person shooting.

Yesterday we reviewed “Silent Hill 2”, a game with an incredibly deep story and minimal focus on combat. Well, RE4 is the exact opposite. The story is silly. Like, trying to save the president’s daughter from evil Spanish zombies silly (that’s actually the plot). However, it’s self-aware and doesn’t take itself too seriously. You play as Leon, the hero from “Resident Evil 2”, who has become much better at fighting undead things. You begin in a rural village in Spain searching for the aforementioned president’s daughter, and things quickly turn bad.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Within minutes, you’re already being attacked by hordes of Spanish people who definitely aren’t zombies. But, there’s definitely something wrong with them since they brush off bullets like pinches from your annoying friend on St. Patrick’s Day. One of these ghouls has a sack on his head and is wielding a chainsaw. He takes even more bullets to take down and scared me so badly as a kid, I actually stopped playing for a few weeks. All of this acts like a cold open because it happens before the title even appears in the game. It’s a hell of a way to open a horror game.

Admittedly, RE4 falls more into the “action-horror” genre than “survival horror” like previous entries. You have more ways to defend yourself, but this is still a scary game. There’s one part where you’re chased around a hedge maze by evil dogs. Then there’s a part where you’re being hunted by “Regenerators”, slimy monsters that make the worst sounds and can’t be killed normally.

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Every action and horror game that came out after RE4 was inspired by it. Games like “Dead Space” (2008) and “The Last of Us” (2013) wouldn’t exist without it. Its importance can’t be stressed enough. One thing that is curious is that it was almost an entirely different game. When showed off in 2002, RE4 looked much more like the earlier games in the franchise, and a lot scarier too. That version was scrapped in favor of the masterpiece we ended up getting, but I can’t help but wonder what it would’ve been like.

Do yourself a favor and play this game. It’s on just about every platform ever made and is only $20.


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Resident Evil 4 (2005) | History of Horror