Times I Died Finishing Resident Evil 4's Professional Mode
RE4 is among my all-time favorite games. It's a comfortable fall-back. When I get sick of new games and just want to slaughter some pseudo-zombies, it's always been there for me. Part of that comes from the game's crazy unlockables and the ease with which you can move through the game with ridiculous weapons. This time around, it was a bit different. I scare easily, and after a few years of sitting comfortably in a completed save file with the Infinite Rocket Launcher and Chicago Typewriter, I figured it was time to set a personal goal and face my own fears.
When I caught C. Gaboury's TAY article, I remembered that I'd never finished the professional mode in RE4. I'm not the biggest fan of challenging games, and I'll admit to turning a lot of them down to "Easy" just so I don't have to deal with the added stress of dying constantly. Still, I decided it was finally time to "finish" the game, and I told myself I'd try to finish the game on Professional in less than a week.
While C. Gaboury's story with the game is one of perhaps too much repetition, mine was with goal-setting and pushing myself to achieve something new in a familiar environment. It's something I often do with my favorite games, and it was the primary reason I set out to beat every Mass Effect title on Insanity, or finally complete a game of Civilization on the Deity setting. Through play I feel like I come to understand their systems and mechanics in a deeper, more intimate way. If I can handle a game at its most candid, then I can come away with a more nuanced perspective of its strengths and flaws. Resident Evil 4 was a bit different from the others, though.
At the end of each chapter, RE4 shows you several stats – accuracy, number of enemies killed and number of times that you've died both for that segment and for your total run. That's fairly unusual as far as games go. Only a few titles outside of the Legend of Zelda series actively track the statistic and show it to you, and even then, you can only see how many times you've failed at the menu screen. Some areas saw me fail far more times than I'd like to admit, but I felt like the game was paradoxically encouraging me along the way. No matter how many times I messed up, the Chapter Clear screen was always there to tell me "Yeah, but you made it eventually".
After just over 29 hours of play over seven days and 131 deaths – I was done. My goal now accomplished, I don't think I'll be revisiting RE4 any time soon. I still have a few more things to unlock, but I've finally achieved something that I, at least, can feel proud of.
Games don't always weave a story of perseverance, and often the ones that do are either brutally unfair or simply not effective at conveying their message. These days I've noticed that my favorite games always seem to adapt to who I am at the moment. The past month for me has been a rough one for me personally, and there were times when I felt lost and utterly powerless. In moments of weakness, it helps to have something in your life that you can control and handle. This time, I picked Resident Evil 4 and I found a theme I needed. It took me back, in a way, to the first time I played it as a 15 year-old. It made me feel a bit closer to home even when I couldn't be.
While this last run through might well be my last, it gave me time to think – both about the game's mechanics and about the life changes happening in my life.