I am always thinking that the odd architecture of places in Resident Evil couldn't possibly be feasible in real life. It'd be far too much of a faff to retrieve bits of iron to then construct a key in a door that only revealed itself after you slotted missing books into a shelf. What if you were desperate for the toilet?
Don't get me wrong, I loved exploring Castle Dimitrescu, the opulent interiors of red, ivory, and gold hiding puzzles in their devastating detail. I'd have hung about for longer, but the lady of the house was baying for my blood... no exaggeration. In Resident Evil 7, Ethan has to slot reliefs of dog's heads into a door that leads to the yard, as the door has been modified to prevent victims from escaping. I'm just wondering what happens when someone burns some toast and you've got to aerate the house to stop the fire alarm from going off. Also, shouldn't employees have automatic access to the basement of the Raccoon City Police Department without the need to collect medallions from three other puzzles? I'd call it a health and safety risk but that's a wide net to be casting over the series.
Check out our video review of Resident Evil Village below with footage captured on the PlayStation 5.
We roll our eyes at the complexity of these things but their inspirations must have been drawn from somewhere. So, I took to the Internet to discover if there are real places that would be right at home in a Resident Evil game.
Winchester Mystery House, California
Number one is the Winchester Mystery House, and this one is famous for its bizarre backstory. After losing her husband and her child, Sarah Winchester sought out a physician's help for her health. Advising her that she leave her home for a fresh start, whispers infiltrated her inner circle, claiming that she would forever be haunted by those who had been killed by Winchester rifles made by her husband's company. Whether it was guilt or fear, we'll never know, but she believed that in order to hide from these vengeful ghosts, she would construct a house that would never be finished. Building on the foundations of a farmhouse in San Jose, she hired carpenters who would work tirelessly on the house without a plan in mind to "confuse" spirits.
That's why this Gothic-Victorian house has doors that open to nowhere, windows that offer a view of another room alongside it, stairs that just stop, and the number "13" and spider-web designs are impressed everywhere inside the mansion. In total, it had approximately 500 rooms and only one working toilet. A very important detail, that. Sarah would sleep in a different room every night to evade the ghosts and even survived an earthquake that collapsed three of the seven stories of the mansion. Nowadays, as a tourist attraction, it has only 161 rooms - of these are 40 bedrooms and two ballrooms - and it has 47 fireplaces, over 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys, two levels to the basement and three lifts. Now, imagine trying to remember the code for a door and the way back to that door while a Tyrant stalks you through the convoluted corridors.
Quinta da Regaleira, Portugal
This is easily my favourite location of the bunch. The exceedingly wealthy António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, a Brazilian businessman, collector and Freemason, bought the land from the Regaleira family in 1892. With his riches, he intended to represent the past and the future of the Portuguese people through his reconstruction of the palace. Assisted by the architect Luigi Mannini, symbols of alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians are integrated into the architecture of the five floors of the property, and these additions were related to the personal beliefs of Monteiro. Chimeras' Court, Fountain of Abundance, Terrace of the Celestial Worlds and Reservoir, Guardians' Entrance, Threshold of the Gods - read those names for the areas in Quinta da Regaleira and tell me they aren't lifted from a video game.
The palace also features man-made lagoons, waterfalls, and tunnels, yet the pièce de résistance is the Initiation Wells. Yes, they are as creepy as they sound. The larger well plunges eight storeys into the ground with a spiral staircase that weaves all the way down. The spacing and number of these landings as well as the number of steps on the stairs are to do with Tarot mysticism, and it is thought that this well was used for Freemasonry or Knights Templar rituals. Even Monteiro's tomb is covered in symbols connected to the Masons, bearing a bee and a skull, owls, and poppies.
This is a prime time place for a spooky section of a Resident Evil game, where the prolonged descent into the underground caverns has you set upon by creatures emerging from the shadows. Plus, the Initiation Well. Ideal spot to hide your experimental biohazards from the world.
Bolsover Castle, United Kingdom
Specifically, we're not talking about the actual castle here. We're talking about the Little Castle, a smaller version of the fortress that was inherited by William Cavendish. Inside, its paintings tell an interactive story from the moment you step through the door. For example, Cavendish and his wife commissioned a reproduction of the Temperaments by painter Maerten de Vos. The originals have been altered slightly to reflect the couple's likeness and personalities, but it's clear that one of the four Temperaments is missing. It's believed that the hosts would embody the ideals of sanguinity (being content and affectionate) and therefore are the missing painting. Cue terrible thoughts of a Resident Evil protagonist pocketing the entrails of an enemy to progress through the house. Eesh.
And, there are two closets in the Little Castle that represent two endings of William's life. The Heaven closet has hidden cupboards in its stately panelling, and the scenes are of angels dancing in delight. One holds sheet music from drinking songs about the legend of Robin Hood, and another reaches down to William with a garland of flowers. The other closet is the Elysium closet, featuring pagan imagery and depicting gods in love with each other. If this was in a game, one of these closets definitely would try to kill you with secret spikes or suddenly setting on fire.
Le Palais idéal, France
Another palace, but the origins of this one might surprise you. In the 19th century, a postman of the name Ferdinand Cheval tripped over a stone while ruminating on a dream he'd had about a castle inside a cave. He pocketed the stone, and every day for 33 years, he picked up stones that he found on his route and used them to build the palace. This project was no walk in the park, let me be clear. The southern wall stretches more than 10 metres into the sky, and Cheval carved into the stones to create visual interest. For example, the north facade has African animals like ostriches, lions, flamingos, as well as octopi, dragons, and a camel that is over a metre high. It also boasts two waterfalls titled the Source of Life and the Source of Wisdom, which I'm positive offer you a temporary health and accuracy buff as you make your way round.
Moreover, Cheval inscribed writing (also known as lore) into the walls to reflect his journey as he built this palace literally from scratch. One reads "Out of a dream I have brought forth the Queen of the World", another says "The Pantheon of an obscure hero", but the most famous of the quotes is this: "1879-1912, 10,000 days, 93,000 hours, 33 years of struggle. Let those who think they can do better try." Cheval has been immortalised in the art of Pablo Picasso, who portrayed the postman as a beast dressed in uniform with the body of a horse and the face of a bird, holding chisels in his hands. Think of that clambering over the windows and swiping through shattered windows for your flesh.
So, I'd say there are some incredibly interesting places out there, and their quirks weren't at the behest of slowing down a protagonist's efforts to expose a shady pharmaceutical company. And, after the effects of the pandemic are gone, you could even visit these locations on your holidays. Probably advisable to arrive in the daytime and be sure you've got a few elite special forces soldiers on call... in case things go south.
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