The first time I played RE4 on the PS2, I quit after 2 hours and didn’t touch it again for months. What it took to get me back into it was seeing someone play who was really good at it, and dominated the mechanics of the game to get amazing results. Much like with Godhand, I needed to see some of the potential in the controls in order to put in the time to get there.
Take that first village situation: there are at least three possible places you can hole up during that engagement. They have different risk/reward ratios, and one even introduces a fairly challenging higher level enemy. Once you know how to play effectively (shooting conservatively, moving, and employing context sensitive attacks in order to control crowds), it turns into calculated mayhem rife with possibilities.
As for the plot, I think it’s exactly the sort of thing that completely eluded No More Heroes. That is, satire with depth that also works as a parallel B movie story on its own. Leon calmly pshes his way through some of the most absurd scenarios imaginable, armed primarily with the ability to fight effectively without the crutch of a circle strafe.
There are ups and downs in the design, from moments of brilliance like the “two paths” you have coming up to the lows of the Alien boss. But I can’t think of another game that I purchased for two different systems and played multiple times on both, and I felt rewarded by the experience every time. Then again, my wife actively encouraged me to play because she enjoyed watching it, so perhaps the chemistry has to occur across the board.
I’d also say the game has a tendency to inspire angry initial first impressions by people who came into it expecting something more universally accessible and simultaneously create exceptionally rabid me-too ism in its fans. It’s definitely got very little in common with Fatal Frame or Silent Hill, which for me is its greatest strength. I like that style of games as well, up to a point, but for a game to really pull me in I need a solid, well balanced action element that pays off in the long run.
Also, the merchant alone is a superior character and mechanic to anything in any game BJB has ever liked. Ever.
Anyway, we all have those moments with 10/10!!! games. Maybe it’d be best to come back to it during a gaming drought versus a time period like this one. I know I will.