The Resident Evil 4 remake, which releases a hefty three years after the Resident Evil 3 remake, sees the series finally moving on from the horrors of Racoon City to the middle of nowhere in rural Spain. And it’s easy to see just how much more detailed the game is compared to its Gamecube origins.
Not only has the team at Capcom fine-tuned the RE Engine over the years with the masterful Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes, but it also took aspects that were iconic about the original game and changed things ever so slightly in both the gameplay and story to make it unique enough for a new audience.
Of course, not everything is perfect. But the Resident Evil 4 remake leaves you terrified and stuck babysitting a President’s daughter as no other game can.
Returning to Rural Roots
Returning Resident Evil 4 fans will discover just how much the story has changed in certain parts while keeping the original premise and world intact. Capcom has reimagined the original Resident Evil 4 story for a new audience to keep things fresh while also catering to those die-hard fans that enjoyed specific aspects of the original. But the changes don’t end with the story; Capcom also targeted many of the exploits players used in the original game to increase their survivability.
It can’t be overstated just how detailed the game looks. Despite taking place in the grayest town in rural Europe, each area is full of life, with secrets creatively hidden in each little section for players to discover. Checking every nook and cranny for ammo, helpful items, or hidden collectibles becomes vital to survival when every bullet counts.
That’s not to say this search doesn’t come with issues, though, mainly due to protagonist Leon having a huge presence in the game in more ways than one. Sometimes during combat, or just when walking around, Leon’s model seems to take up over half of the screen at a time, making it difficult to explore, find secrets, and get your bearings about you in close quarters. Add to that the placement of traps and mines that are deliberately dispersed in a way so the player might only come across them at the last minute, and you’re faced with an annoying bit of damage you weren’t expecting. So don’t rush forward if you want to stop wasting health packs.
Exploration and Survival
Resident Evil 4 remake, at least for a large section of the first chapters, feels very linear with Leon traversing through multiple small lane segments with the usual bunch of grouped-up enemies either laying in wait or hiding in a corner somewhere to give the player a small jump scare. The formula of entering an area and finding a key or item in a small section nearby, and then traversing to another area where a mini-boss or boss awaits seems to be on repeat for the first few hours, which can feel mundane and drawn out when added onto the looting and treasure-finding components.
Granted this all redeems itself later on once the player is given more freedom, allowing them to go back and unlock chests and areas they once visited with new ways to explore, keeping that Resident Evil formula intact. It helps too that the puzzles in this game are some of the best the series has ever produced, using visual cues to the top tier, making it so the player has to keep focused at all times in case they might miss something.
It is only when the world opens up like this and gives you more freedom that you can really experience what the game has to offer. Completionists will also feel invigorated by the inclusion of lots of collectibles to find, challenges to do, and secrets to uncover.
Last Bullet Chance
Capcom has struck the right balance between updating the graphics and tweaking the story while maintaining the heart of the game. Despite its issues, the Resident Evil 4 remake is still fundamentally fun to play and a good remake. It starts slow, but as you unlock more items, weapons, and ways to explore and finally progress past the rural village, Capcom’s latest remake starts to feel like a well-crafted and enjoyable experience despite its faults.
With the Resident Evil 4 remake completed, the question now looms of the future of the franchise. Will Capcom push ahead to remake Resident Evil 5 as well, or instead work on the next entry of the series? Resident Evil 5 was a different take on the Resident Evil formula entirely, bringing in co-op and more action-oriented elements, so it’ll be interesting to see what direction the franchise goes from here.
For now, however, we have a solid remake of a classic game to tide us over that can be enjoyed by fans of the original and savored by those who never played the classic version.
Disclosure: Our review copy of Resident Evil 4 was provided courtesy of Capcom.