With how obsessed I am with video games (there’s a good reason I work the job I do), I’m one of the seemingly five people in the world who hasn’t played Resident Evil 4. I’m not sure what it was, but the horror genre just never appealed to me until the past few years. Maybe it was the exposure and immediate fear of horror at a young age, or perhaps the fact it was released when I was five years old. Who knows? That meant I had avoided what is an incredible game to so many people, and if Resident Evil 4 Remake is anything to go off of, I can mostly see why that is.
The Iconic Damsel in Distress Story
Like 99% of video game remakes, Resident Evil 4 Remake opts to keep the story nearly identical to the original game. You’re Leon Kennedy, you’re on a mission to rescue the president’s daughter Ashley Graham, and a parasite named Las Plagas has completely overtaken a Spanish village. How you go about the various story beats is vastly different, but the core plot is almost identical. With that being said, some noteworthy changes have been made.
“Capcom understands that Resident Evil 4 Remake doesn’t need to completely redo the story for it to be considered a solid remake, so they let it speak exactly as intended.”
The biggest of which sees many central characters receive restructures to their personalities. Ashley is by far the biggest example to come to mind, even if she still seems far younger than the 20 years old the game claims she is. Even the antagonists haven’t been left untouched, with key characters like Ramon Salazar and Lord Saddler being much scarier than the original seems to depict them.
There isn’t a lot to say story-wise without spoiling some key moments. Capcom understands that Resident Evil 4 Remake doesn’t need to completely redo the story for it to be considered a solid remake, so they let it speak exactly as intended. It also isn’t the biggest selling point for a game like this, so it didn’t need a massive amount of focus.
The Blonde Bioweapon’s Killing Spree
While I can’t speak too much about how the original game felt to play, Resident Evil 4 Remake’s combat feels surprisingly unique in how it lays out its combat encounters. Most survival horror games give you a limited supply of resources along with limited, strong enemies in a way that doesn’t feel too overwhelming. Resident Evil 4 Remake, by contrast, gives you a healthy amount of resources and a hefty load of enemies, following it up with a simple “good luck” before throwing you to the wolves (sometimes literally).
“I’d be damned if I didn’t feel cool bringing down 20 enemies in a single fight without a scratch”
I was originally going to consider this a negative since it tended to make some earlier combat sections more tedious than overwhelming. To my surprise, it grew on me more as I played through the rest of the game. Part of this is due to the expansive arsenal of weapons, leaving plenty of room to play with the game’s sandbox in interesting ways. Weapons seem to be, by and large, the same as the original, though that hasn’t stopped them from feeling distinct and endlessly fun to play around with.
Related: Differences Between Resident Evil 4 Remake Deluxe and Collector’s Editions Explained
With that being said, combat wasn’t always perfect. One of the few complaints I’ve seen throughout the years regarding Resident Evil 4 is Ashley’s AI, and while that seemingly is mostly fixed, that hasn’t stopped her from sometimes asking to be taken away or outright killed. This happened somewhat rarely, but when it led to a game over screen, it was frustrating. The other main gripe is in regards to bosses, who, for spoiler reasons, I won’t talk too much on. They’re all visually distinct and quite horrifying, though they often are dispatched the same way. It takes away from a lot of that initial rush of fear you get, especially when that killing method isn’t the most exciting thing in the world.
Outside of combat, exploration is top-notch in the same way Resident Evil has always been. Being actively rewarded for going off the beaten path and completing side missions (or, as the game calls them, requests) is a quick way to get a few extra hours out of the experience. I always had plenty of reasons to backtrack, even when that backtracking would cost me a few precious resources. There’s a ton of hidden content to dig into, and I’m sure I even missed a handful of things despite trying to complete every request in the game. If you’re looking to get a ton of hours out of the game, there’s a ton of potential for you completionists out there.
While it does suffer from a few smaller issues, Resident Evil 4 Remake provides a strong gameplay loop that sets itself apart from its survival horror brethren. I’d be damned if I didn’t feel cool bringing down 20 enemies in a single fight without a scratch, which is something you can’t say about a lot of games.
Beauty, As Expected
While I never dabbled in the original, what I’ve seen from various gameplay clips is that the graphics haven’t exactly aged like fine wine. Art direction helps this a ton, but especially in brightly lit areas, the more muted color palettes don’t help 2005 levels of texture resolution. Unsurprisingly, Resident Evil 4 Remake does a ton to add variety to the more muted colors. Naturally, textures also look far better by comparison, with locations such as Castle Salazar and the Quarry being particular standouts.
All of this represents the best the RE Engine has ever looked. Resident Evil Village and the more recent remakes already look great as modern RE games, but Resident Evil 4 Remake naturally steps things up a notch. Not just in art direction and texture quality but in model designs as well. I only touched on this earlier, but the way some of the new bosses and enemy types look is beyond horrifying.
Related: All Achievements and Trophies in Resident Evil 4 Remake – Listed
Of course, sound design is once again a standout. Composer Kota Suzuki knocks it out of the park between some of the more combat-focused tracks and the tension-building pieces to create a strong atmosphere that seemingly holds faithful to the original. Even weapons, a part of games often unnoticed, sound distinct and beefy no matter what you’re using.
Leon Kennedy, A True Survival Horror King
I may not have played the original, but I’ll be damned; Resident Evil 4 Remake makes me realize why people enjoyed the original so much. That’s not to say I adore it quite as much as many do, but it has a ton to love put into it. Its plot is great, the gameplay feels endlessly tense and satisfying, and the visuals are top-notch. Whether you’re completely new to the game like me or fully completed the game at release, Resident Evil 4 Remake offers all the tension and thrills you’ve come to expect from the franchise.
- Didn’t try to “fix” an already solid story
- Increased depth and personality for certain characters
- Surprisingly unique combat flow
- Overwhelming odds make you feel like a badass for succeeding
- Diverse sandbox keeps things consistently fresh
- Exploration maintains the Resident Evil standard
- The best the RE Engine has looked to date
- Sound design is excellent
- Bosses can feel very samey in takedown methods
- Ashley’s AI still is far from perfect
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PC.