Title: Resident Evil 4 remake
Platforms: PlayStation 5 (reviewed on), Playstation 4, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Release Date: March 24, 2023
In recent years, Capcom’s track record with remakes of their most beloved games has been a mixed bag. While the RE2 remake was excellent, the RE3 remake felt like an afterthought. Though the addition of new character designs gave Jill a fresh look, some of the game’s best elements were removed, leaving fans disappointed. The highly anticipated Resident Evil 4 remake raised concerns that it might suffer a similar fate, sacrificing its original charm in favor of flashy graphics and smoother gameplay, hoping to distract players from its shortcomings. Fortunately, that’s not the case at all.
The events of the Resident Evil 4 remake take place six years after the incidents depicted in RE2 and RE3. Following the destruction of Raccoon City, Leon S. Kennedy is recruited by the government and trained intensively, including with a soldier named Krauser. Eventually, Leon is assigned to protect the president, but when the president’s daughter, Ashley, is kidnapped, Leon pursues her abductor to a remote village in Spain. In short order, Leon’s police escorts are eliminated, and he finds himself alone in a village inhabited by people who are intent on killing him. To save Ashley and return home safely, Leon must navigate his way through the village, a lake teeming with monstrous creatures, a castle, a factory, and a secret lab. The only obstacle standing between Leon and his freedom is a cult known as the Illuminados, which venerates a parasite known as Plaga that infects and transforms its hosts into mindless, slimy slaves.
Capcom had their work cut out for them on the Resident Evil 4 remake because it is widely considered to be the best RE game they ever made and one of the best horror games in history. RE4 was the game that changed the franchise forever and a lot of fans hold it really close to their hearts. They were balancing on the edge of a knife between changing the game for new fans and keeping enough of the original game to appease the old fans. In something that was nothing short of a miracle, they pulled that rabbit out of the hat.
Resident Evil games are linear but are infamous for their backtracking and the Resident Evil 4 remake is no different. There will be certain areas that get locked out the further you go but for the first half of the game, you will be backtracking constantly. They kept everything from the original as its foundation and just built upon it, which was the smartest thing they could have done. Instead of just changing everything, they took the original game and paid proper homage to it, using it as groundwork more than inspiration. The game will take about 20 hours to complete and if you’re like me, you will be searching every nook and cranny for treasures, so it took me nearly 23 hours.
The game’s map has everything from the original but the map is larger with more locations, more expansions, and much more detail. Locations are considerably larger than before with more places to explore. Tons of puzzles are back which really makes it feel like an RE game and ammo conservation is key to making it through. Also, can we please talk about the BS difficulty rating?? I played it on standard and there were parts that felt near impossible. God forbid we had played it on hard. Assisted seems too easy and standard gives you the same long-lasting panic of doing your taxes on April 15th near midnight.
The major moments, places, and people from the original showed up in the Resident Evil 4 remake. You had your trolls, your four-legged friend that saves the day, monsters like the Regenerador, and our old friend, The Merchant. What would an RE4 game be without hearing those beautiful words…”Whattaya buying?” Like honey from the lips of an angel. Returned are the blue medallions and the shooting range but here you earn coins to win charms. Charms, when hung on your case, can add bonuses like extra ammo, better prices at the merchant and more money to be found around the map. Even the case itself can provide boosts like finding more handgun ammo or crafting resources.
The crafting system is fantastic. The ability to collect resources and craft ammo and health items makes the game a lot more fun and it’s even more fun that everything stops when you look into your inventory. Almost dead? Quickly craft a vial of herbs and heal without missing a single beat. Games like Callisto Protocol with their thousand-year-long healing animations are shaking in their space boots.
With the RE Engine, it is no surprise that the Resident Evil 4 remake looks gorgeous. Leon is back with his early 2000s hair that would bring a tear to any mall goth’s eye and the brooding attitude to match. Granted, he is a bit of a dick sometimes, but he’s model gorgeous and I can deal with that….I can change him. Ashley, now that game can make any survival horror gamer cringe. In the original, Ashley is a pest, and more often than not the reason you are reloading a checkpoint. She was annoying and got in the way constantly. The behavior of Ashley’s AI in the remake could have made a huge difference in the gameplay and I have to say, I really liked Ashley here. She’s cute, she’s quirky, she’s helpful and she’s a little bit of a badass. They did her and the player a real solid by improving her AI.
Gone are the days of simply shooting blue medallions, we have actual side quests, baby. Along the way to warm special gems you can trade, there are missions like shooting medallions and killing rats or special enemies that will earn you the spinels. Some quests are easier than others but they are a nice break in the intensity and those spinels can be used for treasure maps, gun parts, crafting resources, and more. The side quests are definitely worth the time.
All of the enemies and bosses got a makeover in the Resident Evil 4 remake. While they maintained the same general appearance, they just look…better. Everything just looks more realistic and scarier. My personal favorites are the Regenerators and the Garrador, both looking disgusting and wicked awesome respectfully. The final boss, Osmund Saddler (which isn’t a spoiler btw) is so well done and the battle was so intense and anxiety-inducing when I played, I could have stuffed coal in my rectum and farted diamonds.
While I was given a code for a standard copy of the game, I did pre-order the deluxe version for the pre-order and DLC bonuses which I think were well worth the money. Leon and Ashley came with multiple costumes (Romantic Ashley and Villain Leon were my personal favorites) and you can find cosmetic items in the game. Also included were filters you can use during gameplay and the ability to swap out the new sounds and music for the original. The only 2 sounds I needed to stay the same in the Resident Evil 4 remake were the noises the Regenerators made and the saved music and both stayed true to the source material. Needless to say, I got to those end credits a happy girl.
OH! Two new items to the game include a storage area you can access at any typewriter and the ability to crouch and you know what that means…stealth kills! The addition of stealth kills was such a big deal and it made the difference between living and dying in some areas, The biggest issue I had with the game was the fact that your knife, which is a massively important part of gameplay, BREAKS. Gone are the days of standing atop a ladder carefree, happily swiping away at any Ganado that dare climb it. Damn you, Capcom. Damn, you’re all to hell for that one.
When it all comes down to it, the Resident Evil 4 remake is everything fans of the original wanted it to be. This is a perfect combination of a game for new fans and old fans. Aside from one really weird glitch and one crash (and that damned knife), I have not a single complaint. This may have been one of the most perfect remakes of all time. And I’m not just saying that because the game’s epilogue has my favorite RE character of all time and because the sexual tension between Leon and Ada could have been cut with a knife.
You can play the Resident Evil 4 remake now and you need to. It’s gorgeous and atmospheric, exciting and challenging, amazing and it hints at a remake to Capcom remaking my second-most favorite RE game of all time. Give me some Sheva and Chris, Capcom! Make it happen!