Two years ago, I played Resident Evil 4 for the first time. It wasn’t my first Resident Evil, but it was the one that left the strongest impression on me. If you don’t, and you should if you are deep into the gaming scene, Resident Evil 4 is considered a landmark title among gaming history. The game completely changed the formula, and found a way to mix the survival horror elements of the originals with fast pace combat that hounded the player on all sides. It was more linear unlike the originals, but remained highly replayable due to its core combat loop and how fun it was to master the game. Resident Evil 4 was also one of the earliest games out there to have cinematic presentation and an over the shoulder third person camera which the player had total control to maneuver. Combine that with the atmosphere and setting of the game and you had one of the most immersive games you could play on home consoles. Some of these statements don’t really hold up as well. I think the story of Resident Evil 4 is good, but some of the dialogue and writing for certain characters is dated to today’s standards. The controls are a bit tanky although you settle into them quickly, there’s probably a lot of other games that came before it more immersive, and one thing that’s really debatable which Resident Evil 4 popularized were quicktime events, but overall the game is mostly a timeless classic. One that’s still talked about today whenever it comes to the topic of Resident Evil, action horror, and influential game design.
Flash forward to 2023 and look at where we are standing now. A year full of hits and stumbles, but nonetheless another great year for video games. One of the most hyped games of 2023, well besides The Legend of Zelda: Tears of The Kingdom, was the remake for the aforementioned and well beloved Resident Evil 4. Capcom has been on a roll with Resident Evil these last few years and one thing they’ve been highly praised for is their remakes of the earlier games. How they manage to modernize the formula those games succeeded in while also maintaining what made them great in the first place. Although they have received some criticism from fans for what they changed and removed, especially the Resident Evil 3 remake, I’d say reception has been really good. So much so that the Resident Evil 2 remake is considered one of the greatest games of all time now, and it looks like Resident Evil 4 remake is about to surpass it by a longshot. You have probably seen the endless praise this game has gotten. Perfect scores, strong recommendations, and is being held as a Game of The Year contender.
So now comes the question, “Do I agree with these opinions?” Shall I cave in with the majority of opinions, or be a contraria- this game is really good. The team behind this put a ton of love and passion into recapturing what made Resident Evil 4 great while also attracting new players much like the RE2 remake. The producer, Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, stated that remaking Resident Evil 4 was one of the most difficult tasks he had to do, but somehow they pulled it off and created what is personally now my favorite game in the franchise. It’s not my favorite game of 2023, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t end up on my end of the year list. Resident Evil 4 Remake is a must play for anyone who loves Resident Evil, action horror, and rewarding gameplay, and today I want to talk about why I adore this masterpiece. “Where’s everyone going? Bingo?”
So the story is pretty much a beat for beat retelling of the original but with better dialogue and presentation. It’s been six years since the Racoon City incident and Leon S Kennedy has been struggling to overcome his trauma. Seeing an entire population turn into mindless zombies and watching it all get burned away with an atom bomb. Wanting nothing to happen like it ever again he joins the United States government and becomes a special agent trained to stop groups like the Umbrella Corporation. He became a lethal killer that can infiltrate the roughest places, and his most recent mission would be the most dangerous one yet. The president’s daughter, Ashley, has been kidnapped by a mysterious group and Leon has to go to where they were last seen. He is then sent overseas and two Spanish officers drive him to a village out in the woods. All is fair and well until one of the officers goes out for a leak and doesn’t come back. Leon ventures down the forest path to see if he can find him and eventually stumbles upon a desolate shack. He then begins investigating the place to encounter someone living there. He tries communicating with him asking if any suspicious activity has occurred in the area, but the man living there is zoned out and ignores Leon. Suddenly, Leon finds the badge of the officer who went missing minutes ago as well his cap which is covered in blood. Quickly he finds out the man in the shack killed him, and luckily he reacts in time as the man swings an axe at Leon. He incapacitates, but the man comes back to life due to a weird parasite flowing through his blood. The house is attacked and Leon is forced to make a daring escape.
Eventually making his way to the village where he watches the inhabitants strap the other police officer, which they kidnapped, to a pole and burn him to death. Leon is then forced to fight for a short period of time, but the ring of the church bell nearby hypnotizes them into stopping. They then walk through a church door, lock it tight, and Leon investigates further. Something is wrong here and the villagers’ anatomy seems to be different compared to an average human being. Leon does encounter one sane person though, Luis Serra, who seems to know what is going on and can confirm to Leon that the group that kidnapped Ashley is in fact in the village. Luis aids Leon, but Leon is suspicious of who Luis is. Only to then discover he works for the Umbrella Corporation. Anyways, Leon is able to locate Ashley, but along the way he gets injected with the parasite the villagers have. Pain boils through his blood and a strange man in robes begins talking through his thoughts. He must be the one behind what is going on, and he’ll stop at nothing to make sure the president’s daughter stays in his hands and special agent Leon doesn’t foil his plans. Time ticks ever so slowly and Leon only has so much before he absolutely loses his mind.
The remake is a blast to play and thankfully they retained a lot of elements that made playing the original great while also fine tuning things. Gone are the tank controls of the original and now you have the controls similar to that of Resident Evil 2 remake. Being able to move around freely without having to stop and turn Leon, and being able to move while aiming which’ll help you avoid a lot of the stuff that gets thrown at you. The intense combat of the original is better than ever, but in a couple of cases it’s much harder. Enemies will come at you in groups and will hound you at every side. Ammo is more generous than most Resident Evil games, but you still have to be cautious of your resources as what you don’t want is running out of supplies during a stressful fight. Make every bullet count, know what weapon to use at what moment, hit them where it hurts, find windows of opportunity, and occasionally prioritize which to kill next. For example, those one hit kill chainsaw guys and are faster than before. You have a wide amount of tools to use and they all serve different purposes.
You have pistols which are easy to reload, fire, and ammo drops often for them. Yet, they aren’t the strongest which is where your other guns come into play. Shotguns to decimate foes up close, assault rifles to put pressure on crowds and from a distance, rifles for long range, and grenades to stun or blow them up. You have a lot of tools to work with, but one you will have to manage is your knife. It’s used to melee foes in front of you, on the ground, and can help you escape enemy grabs. Two biggest changes to the knife are parrying and durability. You can now deflect attacks up close or thrown at you, and can even avoid instant death attacks if you block at the right time. However, using your knife whether than be to parry or escape lethal grabs will degrade it. Once the knife’s durability is empty you won’t be able to use it. You can loot other knives off enemies, but they are often weaker and can’t be repaired like your regular combat knife. What do you do? How do you repair your combat knife? Well returning from the original is the merchant and he works exactly like how you remember him. Throughout your journey you loot a special currency known as Pesetas, and they can be spent at the merchant to unlock new gear, repair equipment, buy supplies if available, and even upgrade your guns. Every gun has four different stats: fire power, fire rate, reload time, and ammo capacity. Upgrading your guns is important as they may help you survive tougher encounters and make easy work of foes. There’s a new type of currency though in the form of Spinels. These special jewels you may loot or get from doing side quests. Oh yeah, there’s side quests now and oftentimes they give you beneficial rewards. Spinels can be spent to unlock certain weapon mods, guns, and much more that wouldn’t normally be sold through the merchant’s shop. You can also sell guns, gear, and jewels you pick up to get more Pesetas, but there’s a new system! There’s no stopping on the additions to the RE4 train!
You may pick up jewelry or relics during your adventure and they can sell for a huge amount of Pesetas, but sometimes you don’t want to sell them immediately. You can keep the gems you find and then attach them to jewelry/relics to increase their selling price. You even get bonuses if some of the jewels are matching colors. It’s an interesting design choice as it challenges you to either sell your stuff sooner rather than later so you can have gold to buy the stuff you need, or save it up to get more money later but put yourself at risk of being underpowered at the moment. I actually really like this and it would challenge me to get better as encounters got tougher. You have the occasional puzzle here and there, and solving some of them will reward you with good loot. There’s a crafting system now which allows you to craft the ammo you specifically need rather than buy or loot it, although you can still do that. There’s the occasional section where you have to protect Ashley as she follows you from behind, but you can now change the distance for which she follows you and you don’t have to manage her health bar. Boss fights will test your reflexes, and there’s just so much I want to say. I don't want this section to go on for too long as I have to criticize the overall, but just know the gameplay department is near perfect. Hopefully you can survive the assault of crazed individuals, get Ashley to safety, and make it back home.
I love Resident Evil 4 remake. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had with a Resident Evil game and despite some of its flaws I had a blast from start to finish. What it does right is done super well and I think the team behind it deserve a pat on the back for what they have accomplished. I think I even prefer this over the original, and the original is already really good. The combat loop is amazing and follows a formula I enjoy called, “Fight for your life.” I will say the remake is a lot faster and harder than the original, and if you’re into the slow pace and decisive gameplay of some of the other Resident Evil games then you might have a hard time getting into this. Enemies are relentless, you have to be good at crowd control, being under pressure all the time, and one thing I notice is that I ran out of ammo more times in the remake than the original as they cut down loot drops and buying ammo in shops (from what I recall) in favor of the crafting system. You will die a lot and you will reload autosaves often to get back into the action and hope this time you will get a little bit further. However, once you do get good and master the combat loop it is fantastic. Variating your attacks, your approach, and feeling rewarded for getting into the rhythm. That is what makes Resident Evil 4 great.
Resident Evil 4 remake still maintains the linearity of the original, but it does have some of the backtracking and connected level design of the other games. In the original you go through the village maybe once, but here you go through it two to three times. Sometimes the village will change and you’ll have to trek through it to reach a new area. Same goes for Salazar’s castle and how you can backtrack between sections to access goodies you may have missed. I actually like this and the addition of side quests and treasures to find gives us a good reason to explore. You want that treasure to sell and you want that gold to afford better gear. The puzzles of the original are still here and I quite enjoy some of the optional found throughout the world. I do wish they were a bit more challenging though, as some puzzles have good ideas to only then end within seconds. The boss fights have been drastically changed and I actually like them a lot more. Some of them got punished at times, but I had fun learning their moveset and finding those moments to punish them. I never had a problem with Ashley in the original, but the changes they made with escorting her are a lot better. Having the ability to control the distance she follows you so that she may either keep range from combat, or stay close so that you rush past enemies to where you need to go. You don’t have to manage her health bar anymore, which is great. Some people may complain about this removing the challenge from sections involving her, but I feel like they did this due to how much harder and aggressive the combat is. They struck that even balance of still making these sections fun but not infuriating, and that’s good.
Graphically this game is a marvel. It’s between this and the Resident Evil 2 remake for being one of the best looking games in the franchise. The atmosphere is more immersive than ever and the devs put a heavier emphasis on horror here. There were sections where unlike the original I was afraid of what I would run into next. Specifically the lab section near the end and how the lethal Regenerator enemies caught me off guard. You just grab a keycard, walk through a door, and it’s right there. Whereas in the original, from what I remember, they have to play a cutscene showing the Regenerator appearing which removes a lot of what makes them scary in the first place. The game knows how to settle you into a scene and kick you in the gut, and I love it. Now onto what is probably the most controversial aspect of the remake. The story and presentation, and how it’s been overhauled for a more mature take. The original had this campiness to it where everything was well written but told in the dumbest way imaginable. There were jokes being thrown left and right, and moments that made you go “What?” Quicktime events like being chased by a boulder or the giant statue of Salazar. How Leon would drop one liners and Ashley was the stereotypical damsel in distress who could do nothing but scream and cry. All of it’s different now in favor of the mature storytelling seen in previous Resident Evil remakes. There’s this huge divide whether the remake should have kept the campy tone and humor. Honestly, I’m fine with it being gone. I prefer the storytelling here much more and if they were to keep the out of the box humor that would have ruined the tone and presentation the remake was going for. We have to accept the fact the remake is entirely its own thing now.
I do have a couple of complaints, but none of them really hold the game back. There’s stealth in this game and it feels completely useless. It’s not that it’s bad, but the level design does not do a good job accommodating it. Most often you pick off one or two guys, realize you can’t pick off anymore, get spotted, and trigger an alarm which alerts everyone to your position. It’s a combat driven game anyways, so why is there stealth? One thing I never complained about the original is the existence of Krauser. A lot of people are gonna get angry at me for this one, but he just feels really out of place especially for a Resident Evil game. They needed to express the theme of past trauma and how it comes to haunt you, but they are already doing this with Leon and how he had to overcome what he faced in Racoon City. Krauser feels like a Metal Gear villain in the wrong game. The voice acting is great, but one of them is debatable. If you know who it is then you know, but here’s my take. The voice actress for Ada Wong is good, but they should have gotten her an acting coach. It feels like she’s reading off a script at times or feels emotionless, which is a shame because I can tell she cares about what she does. My final complaint has to deal with the length of the game. The game is highly replayable thanks to new game plus, and as many people say, “The more content the merrier,” but near the last few hours of the game I was ready to put it down. I was ready for it to be over, because as with the original it’s one of the longest games in the series. Roughly fifteen to eighteen hours long depending on your skill level and how much you explore, but I didn’t hate it. I knew how the story played out and when it would hit hard, and that last boss fight and jet ski sequence hit hard. I love this game. You can tell that by now. I waited for a sale, but it’s one of few AAA games out there that is worth the sixty-dollar price tag. Plays well, runs well, and leaves a good aftertaste. I’m giving the Resident Evil 4 remake a 9.5/10 for excellence at best.
This critique was written by the single man at Review on. Stay tuned for more content and feel free to check more reviews out over at my site!