Recently, decided to start a new run in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. I’d already finished the game once last year, so figured I’d already know what was in store for me this time around. That is, I would know if I played the game on “normal” again and didn’t bump it up to “Madhouse” difficulty. When the game asked which one I wanted, I admit that I had to think about it for a while. So many people say “Madhouse” is the definitive experience, and it is true that “normal” gets rather easy after leaving the Main House. Still, I wasn’t sure what to do: stick with what I know or dive into a new experience that’ certain to be at least a little frustrating.
Over the years, I’ve come to notice that there are many different flavors of “difficult” in games and that some are better than others. Plain vanilla damage/health adjustments are okay, but can feel pointless if increased too little and punishing if beefed-up too much. Throwing extra enemies into the mix can be a mixed bag too. Personally, my favorites are those modes that push for greater mastery of the game; stuff that rewards more planning, observation and creativity is the best in my book. RE7’s “Madhouse” mode does all of this, but I still hesitated nonetheless for one reason: RE7’s bosses.
In my opinion, the boss encounters in RE7 are the game’s only major blemishes. They seem to get cheap hits in often, and it’s generally difficult to tell how much damage one is doing to them. Two in particular: Jack’s 2nd Encounter and Mutated Marguerite can be somewhat infuriating even on normal difficulty because both bosses can take a lot of punishment before it starts to show.
Jack in particular is infuriating because you have to basically just wait around until he decides to grab the chainsaw. This already tends to chew up at least two heals, so imagine having to do that same wait with a Jack that can two-shot you. It doesn’t really sound fun at all to me. Everything else sounds fine: more enemies, fewer resources, with items moved around and more secrets to find? Sounds great! Having to deal with those already annoying bosses with lower health and such? No thanks.
That’s the kind of thing that kills hard/hardest difficulty runs for me. It’s not that I have to play the game differently with more caution, rather, it’s that annoying things only become more annoying. I don’t want to force my way past these boss fights, because I already know that it won’t feel satisfying in the end. Rather, I’ll probably resent the game for making me deal with it. I think this is true across the board in my case: the mode has to add something interesting while also avoiding making already awful things worse.
So yeah, for now I’m playing RE7 on normal difficulty again. Maybe someday I’ll work up the enthusiasm to try Madouse, but for now I think I’m going to pass. I don’t need an even more frustrating Jack Baker haunting my gaming nightmares.
How do you feel about hard modes in gaming? What kinds do you like to play, and what kinds do you never want to deal with?
Image captured from official announcement trailer