Time played: 11 hours (completed)
I remember the original Resident Evil 4 as an action-packed, mutant-fuelled, guns-blazing, epic quest to infiltrate a Spanish cult and rescue the President’s daughter. It’s only now I look back on it that I realize it may not have been as slick and cool as I had once thought.
This is where the remake swoops in like special agent Ada Wong on a zipline to save the day. Coming in to patch the narrative holes, fix the questionable voice acting, and give the battles and monsters a much-needed face-lift. It turns out that 18 years on, Resident Evil 4 needed a remake more than I thought.
Resident Evil 4 price and release date
- What is it? A remake of 2005’s Resident Evil 4
- Release date: March 24, 2023
- Price: $59.99 / £49.99 / AUS$79
- What can I play it on? PC, PlayStation, Xbox
It’s been a long time since I felt like an actual threat in a Resident Evil game and not just like some poor bystander whose luck had run out. While I immensely enjoyed Resident Evil 7 Biohazard in all its horrors, being hunted at every turn was welcomely terrifying but draining. So when I got to jump into the depths of the Los Illuminados cult armed to the teeth and with all the combat knowledge to go with it, I couldn’t have been happier.
The quick action combos, multiple weapons, and melee choices in Resident Evil 4 give you immense freedom in combat. You can’t become complacent, either; as you progress on your mission, the cultists develop different skills that demand new tactics.
The villagers are chaotically vicious but relatively low-skilled in their pursuit, while the monks opt for a more methodical approach using shields, armor, and crossbows to back you into a corner. Finally, the miners take the best bits of both, opting for chaotic rage and utilizing shields and projectiles.
One of the more dangerous sequences was my siege on the castle. While shielding Ashley, I was tasked with navigating the crowds of mutated monks armed with bludgeoning weapons, shields, and, scarily enough, catapults that launched flaming boulders. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to parry those. Luckily, I enjoyed every encounter I had with the cult members; I liked the variations and found the fights a good way to show off new weapons and skills.
Many of the bigger fights also stood out to me. Despite the difficulty of monsters like the xenomorph-esque Verdugo and the blind but vicious Garrador, the experience was memorable in all the right ways. The Verdugo’s design immediately captivated me; it’s horrific, and I wouldn’t want to face up against it in real life, but getting to fight this monstrous beast was thrilling. The deformed alien-like creature was smart, swift, and powerful; every move you made had to be pinpoint accurate otherwise, you’d end up impaled on its scorpion-like tail.
Then there was the Garrador. Trapped in a small chamber, there’s nowhere to hide. Every time you fire a shot or accidentally knock a hanging chain, Garrador will pinpoint your location and charge full pace at you like a blade-covered bull. This was a fight of strategy as much as firepower; there’s nothing quite like feeling strong and smart while beating up your enemies.
Even the stealth was thrilling and smooth. I never once found myself caught out on an invisible ledge that prevented me from dishing out an assassination or circling my target desperately trying to find the stealth kill prompt. Every time I died in combat, it was always my fault. There was never a glitchy NPC that attacked me during one of my finishing kills or a crazily overpowered boss that I had to cheat my way through. While it may be hard at first, Resident Evil 4 has a strict code of conduct, and as long as you see it through and play by the rules, it won’t stab you in the back.
A style and substance two for one deal
Apart from the epic fights, I felt as if this remake excelled at cleaning up the narrative of the original. This time around, I felt like the cult leader Saddler and his right-hand man Lord Salazar were frightening and intimidating. It was nice not to put a face to the ultimate bad guy straightaway; it made meeting Saddler in the flesh for the first time far more memorable.
I also warmed to Ashley more this time around. I’m not a fan of escort missions, but this felt less like protecting a helpless kitten and more like having a useful and intelligent partner that could be helpful in sticky situations.
Gone are the shrill screams every time she jumps from a tall-ish ledge; instead, she shows guts in the face of danger. One of my favorite moments with Ashley had to be her stint as a crane operator as she used a wrecking ball to break through a concrete wall. While at the time, I was busy fighting hordes of violent miners, it was nice not to worry about our escape route as she had this covered.
One for the wish list
Among the ridiculous explosions, evil corporations, and slightly confusing lore Resident Evil's job has always been to make the player feel connected to the story. While Village did a great job at creating a sympathetic character with realistic connections to its wider narrative, the Resident Evil 4 remake is the most invested I've ever been in this series.
I'm happy to say that Resident Evil 4 joins Capcom’s ever-growing list of brilliant remakes. More than simply improved graphics, the team has smoothed down the original’s rough edges, making its story, combat, and boss fights land better than they ever did before. If this is what is possible in a remake, then I can't wait to see what Capcom does next.