The game was released on this day in 2005
On this day in 2005, Resident Evil 4 was released everywhere, and to this day it remains the most successful game in the franchise.
Winning a plethora of awards in the year of its release, RE4 redefined the horror genre for gaming, offering up a perfect balance of third-person action with genuinely terrifying moments. It also has a few moments of comic relief to help ease the suffocating tension of the game.
Here are some of the best moments the game has to offer, from Leon shutting down Ashley's innuendos while riding a Jet Ski to the still terrifying encounter with that chainsaw guy.
Entering The Village
One of the greatest openings in video game history, Leon Kennedy arrives in a decrepit village and quickly realizes it's populated by zombie villagers. The game offers a master class in pacing and tension, as the villagers seem to be lost in a daze at first, unphased by Kennedy's arrival.
But soon, things start to turn, and without any proper tutorial, the player is thrust into having to defend themselves, with very limited ammo, from an onslaught of possessed villagers. The panic induced by these opening moments set it apart from other horror games. While video games' opening moments are often filled with sluggish tutorials, RE4 simply throws players into the world and wishes them good luck.
Later in the game's iconic opening sequence, the villagers are suddenly called away. They lay down their weapons, disregard Leon, and begin heading towards the church, muttering Spanish to themselves. The camera pans around Leon as he grapples with what just happens. "Where's everyone going? Bingo?" he says as the opening credits roll. The moment remains a memorable, albeit awkward, way to introduce a game.
Obviously, it wouldn't be a horror game if you didn't face at least one enemy with a chainsaw, but in Resident Evil 4, facing the chainsaw man remains one of the most haunting moments in the game. As Leon wanders around the quiet village collecting trinkets, the faint whirr of a chainsaw can be heard in the distance. Only when you turn a random corner does the chainsaw man finally lurch out at you, a sack covering his face as he charges towards you.
A fearsome foe who is not easy to take down, the chainsaw man is a legendarily terrifying Resident Evil character who frequently reappears in the series. Not to mention, the scariest part of it all is not if, but when, he finally succeeds and cuts his blade into Leon.
While a horror game at its core, Resident Evil 4 strikes a great balance between action and horror, the former taking center stage as the story progresses. The suffocating fight inside the cabin is one of the game's most action-packed moments. A steady hand is needed in order to take swift action against the zombie villagers as they break into the cabin and charge Leon and his allies. But be warned, friendly fire is on, and if you accidentally shoot your Luis too many times, he too turns on you, making an already tense moment feel excruciating.
Featuring one of the most menacing priests we've ever seen, the boss battle against the notorious Bitores Mendez is gory and absolutely terrifying. A tower of a man with a grotesque facial deformity, he possesses superhuman strength, which Leon soon realizes once they face off.
With his large stature already scary, he transforms into a skeletal centipede halfway through the fight, his spine elongated and separated from his body as fleshy claws sprout from his back. Quick movement is needed in order to defeat him, as he can suddenly swing from rafters and drop on top of you. Not to mention – the cabin is on fire.
The Del Lago
One of the most fearsome foes in the game isn't one of land but the sea. The Del Lago is a fearsome sea creature, whose gargantuan size, quick speed, and sharp teeth nearly overwhelm Leon multiple times as he tries to defeat it in his teeny tiny rowboat. The scariest part of this encounter is when Leon falls in the water (which will always happen) and must swim back to his boat as the creature gains speed right behind him. Also, you can't use your gun, as shooting at the water will only reveal your location and ensure a swift death.
The First Regenerator
The sinister enemy introduced in the game's second half is extremely difficult to kill and terrifying to behold. The Regenerator is impervious to standard gunfire, and killing it requires equipping an infrared scope on a sniper that reveals the creature's weak spots. Blow out his legs, and the creature lurches at you like a fish; blow off its head, and it merely grows it back. But the scariest trait has to be their gurgled and exasperated breathing, which Leon hears echoing down chambers long before they reveal themselves.
The El Gigante
A grotesque and towering troll, the El Gigante is one of the biggest foes Leon faces in the game and requires some finesse to defeat. Bullets seem to merely flick off his thick grey skin as he barrels towards you, and with no health bar or anything to signify how long El Gigante will stand, the player is forced to merely keep shooting and pray they don't run out of ammo. Luckily, if you were kind to the canine earlier in the game, he will swoop in and buy you some time, but let's hope you can survive that long.
The Jet Ski Escape
As impressive as the game was, Resident Evil 4's final moments are laughably corny. As Leon and Ashley escape the island via jetski, Leon serves up some alpha male coolness as Ashley flirts. "So after you take me back to my place, how bout we do some overtime?" Ashley says. "Sorry," Leon says. Ashley asks if it's because of Leon's past love interest. "She's like a part of me I can't let go. Let's leave it at that," he says as they ski off into the sunset.