I’ve always enjoyed the Resident Evil series. I played the first games years ago on my PS1 and Resident Evil 4 on my PC when it was released in 2007. Even though I played through RE4 a few times back then, it’s been around 18 years since I’ve touched it.
I deliberated how to approach this review and decided to focus on how this remake stands on its own merits. I will make a few comparisons to the original, but aside from the nostalgia and general memory of the original being a good game, I don’t recall the minutiae very clearly. It would be remiss of me to try and go into detail between the two versions.
However, with Resident Evil 4 Remake, Capcom has stayed extremely faithful to the original game in almost every respect. Cutscenes and locations often mirror the 2005 game, but there are several improvements.
You play as Leon Kennedy, who has been tasked with rescuing the president’s kidnapped daughter, Ashley, from a bizarre cult. Needless to say, things are far more nefarious than initially anticipated. As usual, I won’t talk too deeply about the story since I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t already played the game.
Leon remains a badass and still has funny quips now and then, but overall, the experience is a more serious and darker affair than what I remember from the original. I also want to add that it’s entirely possible to jump into the game without having played any of the previous titles in the series. This story stands on its own and is not a continuation or directly connected to previous events.
Graphics & Audio
Visually, the game looks great and feels more like a re-imagination of the original game. Capcom has made some creative improvements in aesthetics and layouts. As a result, I think the overall look and darker theme make for a better experience.
The voice acting, lip-syncing and cutscenes are done very well and keep the experience enjoyable all the way through. The audio is heavy and impactful and adds a lot of weight to both the movement and combat. The sound design complements the animations well. I’ve seen numerous complaints about the voice actress for Ada Wong. I’m no expert in voice lines, but I did not find her lines to be an issue at all.
The music is fitting and drives every scenario. The score maintains the tension in the quiet sections as well as keeps the intensity in each action set piece.
I normally keep a list of issues while I play a game for review purposes, but by the time I reached the end of this remake, my list was empty. This is especially rare these days. I can’t speak for every PC player out there, but my experience was free of any technical problems, aside from the minor and only occasional traversal stutter. Overall, the game ran very well with no bugs or crashes.
The gameplay of the 2005 Resident Evil 4 departed from the survival horror elements of the earlier games and focused more on action and combat. This remake improves these systems and adds new features that weren’t in the original release.
Leon can now move while shooting. This is a big change since it allows you to evade some enemy attacks merely by moving to the side or backing up. The added mobility makes everything flow much more and allowed me to get out of some hairy situations.
It’s now also possible to parry incoming attacks with your knife. Perfect parries stun enemies and allow you to perform a melee attack. To counter the power of this, knives have durability. Every stealth kill, ground execution, or parry reduces durability. Once a knife breaks, it can no longer be used. If your main knife breaks and you have a spare you’ve picked up, that can be employed in the interim. The durability of your main knife can be upgraded and repaired at the merchant.
The ability to parry attacks and block incoming projectiles or shoot dynamite and Molotov-wielding enemies adds a degree of skill to each encounter. Enemies can randomly transform into mutated forms on death, which adds to the randomness of each encounter as well.
Most areas can be approached stealthily, at least initially which allows you to thin out the herd by backstabbing some of them. There is a quite memorable section where you play as an unarmed Ashely which was tense. I don’t want to spoil it here, but it was a nice addition.
You’ll be fighting a number of bosses, as well. All are different and interesting. None of them feel unfair or incredibly difficult, but these encounters certainly kept me on my feet. One or two stood above the rest, but I’ll leave that for you folks to discover.
There are several puzzles scattered throughout the game. All of them are pretty easy and barely require much thought, so they don’t slow the game flow at all.
Crafting is another addition. You are now able to pick up a variety of resources (gunpowder, small resources, large resources) to craft various kinds of ammo if you have the respective recipe. Like other Resident Evil games, you can pick up First Aid sprays, and green/red/yellow herbs which you can combine to make healing vials. Adding a coveted yellow herb to the mix will permanently increase your MAX health a little.
All the weapons can be upgraded at the merchant. There is a fair variety of them. Some seem to just be better versions of starter weapons, but all of them have their strengths and weaknesses. They are all viable and feel great to use, except I never really connected with the bolt gun. Your playstyle will determine how useful any particular weapon will be.
Inventory, Charms, Treasure, and Loot
Inventory management is a very real element in the game. Save points (typewriters) let you access your storage, but only weapons and first aid sprays can be stored. Hence, you’ll be constantly making decisions on what to keep and what not to take. Like the original, you have an attaché case, which dictates the size of your inventory. This case can also be upgraded throughout the game to increase your inventory space. Unlike the original, you can choose from the type of case, and each style gives a bonus. For example, the default case adds a higher chance of finding pistol ammo whereas the red case increases the chance of red herb drops. The deluxe edition gold case increases money (Pesetas) drops.
In addition, you can equip up to three charms to your case for more bonuses. For example, charms give a chance for more ammo crafted, cheaper repairs, or slightly faster movement speed. A number of these charms can be randomly acquired via tokens obtained in the shooting range mini-game, accessed at various points in the story. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some of the better, rare charms. By the way, the shooting range is quite enjoyable and provides a bit of a distraction.
Treasure is also back. You’ll be finding all manner of valuable items. Some of these are just sold directly to the merchant. Others can have jewel slots that increase their value. Jewels come in a variety of shapes and colors. Inlaying valuable items with different colored gems or all the same color can offer large bonuses. You’ll get a fair amount of cash throughout the game, which is chiefly used for new weapon purchases and upgrades to your arsenal.
Finally, the merchant also offers requests in each area, which reward you with Spinel gems when completed. Spinals are tradable gems that will give you access to a variety of items that cannot be purchased with money. These gems can also be found hidden in drawers or chests.
Enemies also drop loot, whether it be ammo, Pesetas, gems, or herbs. The loot drops from enemies and breakable containers seem to be random, so there is always going to be a little RNG as to what exactly you will find.
DLC and Microtransactions
I really like this remake, but there is something I need to talk about. That is Capcom suddenly dropping a ton of paid DLC after most reviews were out.
I already took issue with the “Treasure Map: Expansion” DLC, which adds more loot to the game for real money (loot that won’t be in the game unless you purchase the DLC). Now, a couple of weeks after release, they added over ten “Weapon Exclusive Upgrade Ticket” DLCs.
By comparison, one of these tickets can be purchased in-game with 30 Spinels (for the first one). Once you have the ticket, you still must pay a large sum of in-game currency to unlock a single exclusive weapon upgrade, which might raise the power of a gun by 50% or double the ammo capacity. Hence, the upgrades are quite powerful, and most players will only unlock one of these final upgrades in a single playthrough.
However, the real-money DLC tickets allow you to bypass the requirements and get the exclusive upgrade for free. I understand that this is a single-player game, and many will say it doesn’t matter and I’m free to choose not to buy them. While those sentiments may be true, I think this DLC sets a bad precedent.
Thankfully (at least in this case), the game is not designed to be unfair to make the ticket or treasure DLC necessary purchases. Those who want an easier time can choose a lower difficulty. In addition, I imagine these DLC are for players willing and wanting to speed up the upgrades in subsequent playthroughs, but the idea of “timer savers” doesn’t sit quite right with me in general.
On the positive side, Capcom recently added a free “The Mercenaries” DLC, which is a wave-based arcade time trial mode where you aim for a high score. There are a few characters to choose from, but Ada Wong is currently missing from the roster. I expect she will become available when they release the rumored story DLC that revolves around her point of view.
Resident Evil 4 Remake is an excellent game in every regard and incredibly enjoyable. This is one of the best games I’ve played in a long time, and I am hard-pressed to find fault with the game itself. It is very faithful to the 2005 release’s story but also greatly improves on the original in every way. The gameplay changes make the remake a better-flowing game experience that is far less clunky than the original, in my opinion. It allows you to do what you need to do without having to fight with the controls, as well.
I felt this remake’s pacing was perfect. The balance of exploration, story, and action sequences worked to create a seamless experience. I didn’t feel at any point that I was getting bored, or that things were getting repetitive or tiresome. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I spent in the game. In fact, I found myself starting a second playthrough the moment the end credits rolled, which is not so common for me.
As with the original, this remake is incredibly replayable. There are many secrets and plenty of unlockables accessed through in-game challenges. The excellent and enjoyable combat is another huge draw. Playing through the first time took me around 22 hours. Subsequent playthroughs will of course be much faster since I’ll likely skip cutscenes and be much more familiar with each encounter and location.
In conclusion, this 2023 version stands tall as a great game, equal to the original game’s legacy. Whether you’ve played the prior version or you’re new to the entire series, this is an experience you really should not miss out on. I highly recommend playing Resident Evil 4 Remake.
- Graphics & Audio
- Gameplay is solid
- Excellent remake
- Mercenary mode
- Some traversal stutter
- Upgrade & Treasure DLC
- Where’s Ada wong in mercenary mode?
Windows 10 64-bit computer using an Intel i7-12700k, 32GB Ram, and an nVidia RTX 3080 graphics card.