Capcom is on a roll, with remakes of Resident Evil 1, 2, and 3 already on the market, as well as the recently released Resident Evil 4 remake, which has been available since March 24, 2023. Naturally, expectations are high, with the three previous remakes checking nearly every box and setting a high bar for the Resident Evil 4 remake. Not to mention the already high bar Resident Evil 4 sets for itself, with the original 2005 release turning heads in the gaming world and becoming a genre-defining masterpiece that the likes of The Last of Us and Dead Space would strive to match.
To be honest, I'd be fine without a Resident Evil 4 remake hitting the shelves because the original is too good even to imagine what a remake could look like. Sure, a 2005 game feels out of date now, but for survival horror veterans who played Resident Evil 4 back then, the game's look and feel were enough to reminisce about without the need for a remake. Capcom, on the other hand, couldn't resist the challenge of outdoing themselves, so the rest of the gaming world would have to sit tight and cross their fingers, hoping for the best.
Enough chit-chat; did Capcom deliver on par with (or better than) the original? What are the good, bad, and ugly parts of the Resident Evil 4 remake? Is playing the Resident Evil 4 Remake review worthwhile, newcomer or not?
First Things First
Meet Leon S. Kennedy. A strapping lad who’s worked his way up the ranks from rookie to special operations government agent. With his high status comes the deadly mission to find the US president’s daughter, who was kidnapped somewhere in Europe.
On arrival, Leon starts his search in the woods. He runs into piles of dead animals, hears weird sounds, and holds tight, navigating a dark, cold path, a hazy, eerie atmosphere hanging over his head. As with Resident Evil 4, this type of environment runs across the entire game, except it’s much more sinister thanks to advanced technology.
Sight for Sore Eyes
Comparing the original to the remake, much of the plot is largely the same. And I wouldn’t have it otherwise. It’s the perfect premise for a horror-filled venture that later won’t matter too much how you got here.
What’s different, though, in the most subtle ways possible—you'd have to have studied the original to notice—are the detail-oriented textures and models of the remake. If you put both games side by side, the image quality is overwhelmingly huge, which is to be expected with the major year difference from 2005 to 2023.
Details like running water are much more surreal, thanks to ray tracing technology. You even get time-of-day variations that add a nice touch to the overall experience. Previously bare structures like the hovel you first encounter show much more love and care tended to them, so much so that they look like actual homes that people once lived in, beds and all.
You’ll also see a difference in mobility, where the remake allows you to explore more expansive environments that stretch out farther than the eye can see. Seeing the dedication and attention to detail given to the Resident Evil 4 remake is pretty splendid. After all, visual appeal is one of the major elements that remakes are intended for, and an aspect I expected Capcom to score full points for without fuss.
The Old vs. The New
Something else you’ll see is the upscaled controls and combat systems the remake has to offer. Running and gunning was but a mere fiction in the 2005 survival horrors. On the other hand, the Resident Evil 4 remake actualizes nearly all modern-day gameplay you can think of.
The original Leon struggled to move around. It almost feels clunky playing the game today. He can’t shoot and move at the same time. Honestly, if you didn’t play the original when it was released, it’s probably best to steer clear of it if you don’t want to deal with unnecessary frustrations.
The Resident Evil 4 remake is very much a 2023 game. If you have hordes of enemies coming at you, don’t fret. Simply find a safe place to move to while targeting and still taking down as many as you can. It’s a neat gameplay system that keeps you on your toes, almost like an on-the-go train. You can even back away from an incoming crossbow while still having your target pinned down.
Seamless, Fluid Action
There are other subtle differences, the most notable of which is the swift weapon change system with a simple tap of the D-pad. Before, you had to pause the game, go into your inventory screen, find the weapon you’d like to switch to, then hop back in the game. With the number of times you’ll likely switch from shotgun to rifle to knife for melee finishes, I don’t know how one could make it through the original without putting their head through a wall.
Oh, and thanks to Leon’s mobility, you’re free to use stealth too. Simple creep up on enemies slowly, slicing them while they least expect it, or crouch to sustain less damage. Overall, Leon feels more fluid in controlling and maneuvering him. Plus, the finishing touches don’t come for free, either. Enemies have their streamlined gameplay, too, and weapons like the knife wear out with extensive use.
Deadly Parasites, Beware!
Speaking of enemies, I couldn’t help reveling in how advanced they are, especially since they’re generally the core part of Resident Evil games. The more spooky they are, the better. The creepy sounds and environment only elevate the enemies more, whether they’re streaming in on you from all directions or sneaking up on you when you’re engaged in something else.
Watch out for elevated enemy gameplay, like the villagers who lay bear traps in the middle of fights. Or other sneaky ways they come at you. Also, the Resident Evil 4 remake doesn’t use zombies. Instead, you get swarmed with monstrous atrocities and abominations, which, frankly, adds to the variety and spice of varying bosses. In fact, the Resident Evil remake isn’t the game to find a “one size fits all” solution during enemy encounters. You are constantly pushed to adapt. Sometimes, headshots will work. Other times, aiming for the limbs will weaken them faster.
And other times, they prove generally harder to kill, standing back up on their feet even after you’ve supposedly killed them. The zombie effect, I suppose. Watch out for the ones that regenerate parts of their body, such as tendrils growing out of blasted-off limbs, and other parts. Those are the worst nightmares.
Care for More?
I have to talk about the level of replayability this game offers. The enemy variety plays a part in it, as well as the tons of sub-quests, renovated environments, and the toughest bosses that make you want to give it another go.
But, most especially, it’s the varying levels of difficulty the game presents. On harder levels, enemies are a menace, proving much smarter and tougher to kill. But even if you’re a veteran playing the game on the highest “Hardcore” difficulty, the Resident Evil 4 remake still challenges you to another amplified difficulty level called “professional mode.” This one doesn’t have auto-saving. Running won’t save you, either. Beat this mode, and all bragging rights are yours.
Resident Evil 4 remake perfectly nails the sense of dread fans of the franchise come looking for. Using the DualSense controller, everything from Leon’s footsteps to enemy snarls to the whipping of foliage around you comes through like a charm. The environments keep up the pace, too, thanks to finely detailed textures and models and more expansive environments that elevate the experience and encourage exploration.
It’s a surreal experience that constantly has you on the edge of your seat, even as seas of monsters descend on you and the enemies seemingly adapt to your attacks as you progress. If you play the game on Hardcore difficulty, running won’t save you. And if you happen to unlock professional mode, then it’s Hail Mary all the way through.
Every step of the way feels curated to deliver the most top-notch experience a survival horror could offer. Plus, remaking the 2005 game, although uncertain of where that road would lead, ended up being the best choice Capcom could have ever made.
So, now, newcomers and veterans alike can enjoy a more polished, fast-paced, and surreal take on arguably the best survival horror game of all time, even as we anticipate The Mercenaries mode coming as a free update sometime in the future.
Resident Evil 4 Remake Review (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, & PC)
A Fully Sensational Remake, Refined for Modern Times
In the world of gaming, remakes are a common occurrence. However, not all remakes deliver on their promises. Resident Evil 4 remake, though, kicked the ball out of the park with its amplified and finely polished take on all aspects of the original. The image quality is beyond compare, the controls match today’s standard, and the experience remains one of the best survival horror experiences ever.