I thought I was a Resident Evil pro until I tried the max-difficulty hell mode hidden in RE4's demo

Next-gen Dr Salvatore approaching camera holding his chainsaw
(Image credit: Capcom)

Game devs always love giving their "very hard" mode some kind of goofy name. You know: "Insanity," "Nightmare," "I am Death incarnate!," "Hell Bastard Apocalypse," something cute like that. The ultra-difficult "Mad Chainsaw Mode" hidden in the Resident Evil 4 demo is one of the first to truly feel like it deserves its epithet, though.

Mad Chainsaw mode menu screen describing its intense challenge, run-limited nature, and that it will not be in the final game

(Image credit: Capcom)

First reported by Eurogamer, you have a random chance of unlocking the mode each time you start a new run of the demo⁠—it's unclear if you have to finish it once to unlock the opportunity. Mad Chainsaw Mode ramps up enemy HP, poise, and aggression while also mixing up their placement, and I hear tell that beloved Chainsaw Guy Dr. Salvador (where'd he get his degree, anyway?) is swapped for his crazy-strong Mercenaries Mode alter-ego Giant Chainsaw Man during the big dust-up at the end of the demo. But I didn't make it that far.

I've beaten RE4 six or seven times now, some of those on Professional difficulty, and I've also five-star sweeped the Mercenaries mode to unlock the game's ultimate Handcannon weapon. I pretty handily cleared the demo last night and figured "I'm an RE4 pro, I'm ready for this!"

I was not ready for this. At the demo's very first fight not one, but four premium extra-strength Ganados rushed in to greet me. I wasted all my ammo, knife durability, and only healing spray to not even drop all of them, then promptly Yakety Saxed my way as far as I could until some Castilian bumpkin with a grudge gave me the old Geralt of Rivia at the end of a hay fork.

It didn't even feel like a proper difficulty mode as much as it did a trolling ROM hack, and it was hilarious. For an actual chance of beating the thing, I have to imagine you'd need some combo of the classic PS1 survival horror "just juke them and run past" strat with a thorough mastery of the remake's new stealth mechanics.

More than anything else though, I think Mad Chainsaw Mode is strong evidence that the RE4 remake's reinvigorating this classic game in some meaningful ways. It's surprising and funny and arcadey; it has the madcap cheesy energy of the original but slots perfectly in with the new game's incredible presentation. The Mad Chainsaw Mode's popup says it won't be in the final game when it releases March 24, but I'll be surprised if there isn't something like it, at least in the Mercenaries survival mode.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.