If you compare my playtime for the full Resident Evil 4 game and its pre-release demo, the hours would be close.
That’s not to say I spent little time with the breakout 2005 title for Nintendo GameCube. It’s the opposite: I spent that much time with the demo. I took every chance to show off Resident Evil 4 to friends. I brought the demo disc to parties and talked ad nauseam to my GameStop customers then. It wasn’t just that I wanted everyone to know how amazing the future of Resident Evil was. I needed them to understand how unbelievable this game was looking.
Eighteen years later, history is repeating itself.
Hands-on With a Remade Classic
The surprise launch of the Resident Evil 4 Remake demo, lovingly called the “Chainsaw Demo,” is once again captivating my heart and mind. There’s a warm sense of familiarity as Leon Kennedy enters the European village. The improvements and changes are welcomed alongside that familiarity. You know that you’ve been down this road before, but there’s something new here. It’s not just the improved graphics but a more modern take on a game that helped define the modern action title.
Obviously, being able to move and shoot simultaneously is a huge difference from the original Resident Evil 4. However, you’re sorely mistaken if you think you’ll storm in with guns blazing and start blasting without issue. There’s still a challenge at play here. While Leon is now a trained special agent, he still has some limitations. Furthermore, the hordes of enemy villagers are unrelenting.
That’s before the Chainsaw Man himself even shows up.
With the GameCube demo, part of the appeal was becoming an unstoppable force. With the Resident Evil 4 Remake Chainsaw Demo, it’s about surviving. It isn’t about killing off the horde. It’s about outlasting them.
It’s about doing whatever I can to hope that just one time, the demo doesn’t end, and I get to keep playing the game.
Capcom Brilliantly Gives Me the Incentive To Keep Playing
Or, if you’re someone like me, it’s about perfecting the demo experience.
Once you’ve completed the opening scenario, you’re scored on your progress. The Chainsaw Demo factors in the time to complete it and the amount of money acquired. It then grades you on your performance.
As if we needed another reason to keep coming back before the game’s full release in two weeks.
When I show off how good the Resident Evil 4 Remake is shaping up, it’s not just about getting everyone else excited for the full game. Instead, it’s about bragging rights. Who’s the best at headshotting infected villagers? Who can pull off the quickest speedrun? What player can pack the biggest punch against the absolutely horrifying redesign of the Chainsaw Man? Furthermore, what secrets can we find and discover?
There’s already the (unfortunate) easter egg with the dog in the bear trap. The first villager encounter has been redesigned, too; it’s no longer a solitary enemy in a house; it’s a horde of enemies in a lodge.
Just like that, the reasons to return to the Chainsaw Demo are adding up.
The Chainsaw Demo Successfully Takes Me Back in Time
The most impressive feat from the demo is how I feel transported back in time. I feel like it’s cliched to reference the climactic scene in the Pixar film Ratatouille, but that’s how I feel. The second I start playing, I no longer felt like a mid-30s adult. Instead, I feel like a kid who’s come home after a long day and gets to unwind with the video game I’ve been obsessing about for over a year.
There is an extra feeling of nostalgia for me personally. Resident Evil 4 is the first video game I professionally reviewed. It’s the game that not just further cemented my love of video games as I move into adulthood. It also confirmed my love of talking and writing about them. I never thought I’d be able to have the travels and experiences I have had in my career. In many ways, it’s all thanks to Resident Evil 4.
I am getting ready to review the Resident Evil 4 Remake almost twenty years later. I’m still here playing video games and writing about them. Who would have thought? Not me.
We’re Coming Home
Some people say that you can never truly go home again. But, even if you do, it’s never the same. Yet once I arrived at the village during the Resident Evil 4 Remake Chainsaw Demo, it was exactly the same. Despite the changes and differences, this is the same Resident Evil 4 I know and love.
Often, when it comes to remakes, people talk about how updated graphics match what they always viewed the game as. You look back in time and go, “wow, this looks way worse than I thought. The remaster is doing this game justice.” With Resident Evil 4, the opposite is true.
I’m not gawking at the admittedly impressive visuals during my time with the Chainsaw demo. Instead, I mentally remember every nook and cranny I explored. The enemy’s patterns and behaviors, how they look and react. It’s then, after the third time completing the demo, that I realize I’ve arrived home. I’ve been transported back in time. My biggest takeaway isn’t that this is how I always imagined Resident Evil 4 looked. Instead, this is how I always imagined it played.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I will play it more.