An entirely new experience
**Warning: Heavy Spoilers Ahead**
Finished Resident Evil VII? Whether you spent an hour and a half or eight hours to complete the game, Resident Evil VII probably provided you with a riveting experience. I, myself, have completed the game on easy/normal three times in order to achieve a few of the more difficult trophies (using the item box three times or less, completing the game in under four hours, etc.). All that’s left for me to secure the elusive platinum is to complete the game on Madhouse difficulty. If you’ve decided you’re brave enough to tackle this challenge as well, read further for a few tips.
1 – Beat the game on normal or easy in under four hours while making both choices.
I don’t know if it was that I beat the game in under four hours or if I chose Zoe instead of Mia, but after that specific playthorugh, I was gifted the buzz saw and a pair of x-ray glasses (on my original playthrough, I was gifted the Albert handgun and the Elements of Defense item). Carrying the Albert and the x-ray glasses, at the minimum, seem to be a handy way to begin Madhouse, and I’ll expand on that shortly.
For starters, however, the Albert is a large damage upgrade compared to the pistol you scavenge from the poor deputy’s corpse during the first Jack boss fight. One heasd from the Albert on the first crawling Molded I found killed it, so the weapon, at least initially, appeared useful. Also take note that the Albert utilizes handgun ammo, which will most likely be the most prevalent form of ammunition available to you throughout the game – especially if you find or craft enhanced ammo.
Secondly, the buzz saw is perhaps the single most vital item in the game. With the ability to annihilate nearly every enemy and every boss, as well as functioning as a solid tool to prevent attacks, the buzz saw enabled me to chew through the madhouse content with few deaths. The only area of the game where the buzz saw is ineffective is during the opening – before you have the chance to grab it from the initial item box.
2 – Locate all of the Antique Coins if possible
The first thing you’ll notice after you escape from the Baker family dinner, defeat Jack in the garage, and open the bull locked door is that you’re going to need a lot of antique coins. Why? A good majority of the items that you could find on your normal or easy playthrough are locked in those little cages you used to be able to only find in Zoe’s trailer. For example, the scorpion key costs three antique coins to unlock, while the other two cages – featuring a damage boost and a defense boost – cost eight and seven, respectively. Fortunately, there are more antique coins – about 33, to be exact – in the Madhouse difficulty. Pretty nifty, right?
And there is where the X-Ray glasses come into play. Holding these in your inventory, while gobbling up a precious slot, shows you where all of the items are in the game (it’s like taking a permanent psycho-stimulant). This is doubly effective because not all of the antique coins are in the same locations as in normal or easy, and there are more to locate. Additionally, using the glasses helped me find an exponentially larger amount of ammo and healing items than I may have found otherwise. What this does is offer a very small level of security in a Madhouse difficulty that requires cassettes to save and limits auto saves.
3 – Be prepared for surprises
I was shocked at how much damage Mia absorbed during her first encounter in what I dub as the prologue of Resident Evil VII. In fact, Mia absorbs so much damage during that battle that you require all 20 handgun bullets you can find in addition to a few slashes with your hand axe. Added tricks like locking Mia out of one of the three rooms by cracking it open and having her chainsaw through miscellaneous walls will help you avoid her heavy attacks and crazy charges. But this isn’t even the tip of surprises.
As I mentioned, the bird cages in the Baker foyer are a new – and somewhat pleasant – surprise. Equipped with my X-Ray glasses, I was enjoying my time searching through the mansion, collecting items and popping any Molded that I came across. Unfortunately, when I opened up the Scorpion key birdcage, Jack decided he was going to spawn a bit earlier (to see if he spawned with a different flag, I ran upstairs to scout that area, too). Instead of his scripted appearance when you scout the upstairs bathroom, Jack now escapes the garage when certain conditions are met and possibly based on time. Likewise, the Baker family has incredible speed and increased power, too.
One of the cooler features I noticed in Madhouse was your slim but possible chance of losing limbs before death. If this should happen – if you’re attacked and, say, your leg is chopped off – you can, with the help of a first aid medicine, heal yourself back to life, and you can re-attach your limb. I was so surprised the first time this happened, which was when I was attempting to escape the family dinner, that I attempted to crawl my way from Jack into the crawlspace. Unfortunately, by wasting time on that fruitless task, I bled out… all the while watching Jack cheer me on. He placed a first aid med on the floor and even suggested I use it. When I finally died, the game tutorial (the one that appears after you die) reiterated the feature.
4 – Be patient
Lastly, Resident Evil VII on Madhouse difficulty requires patience. The bosses aren’t easy (for example, during the garage fight, Jack pulled me out of the car after I got the keys and then murdered me), and everything deals much more damage. New item locations, in addition to new items, creates a somewhat chaotic atmosphere – but one that should be embraced. With limited auto saves and the requirement of cassettes forcing players to save and play wisely, Resident Evil VII Madhouse truly feels like a whole new experience.