Resident Evil 4 is widely considered to be one of the best games of all time. While I don’t personally share that opinion, I can definitely understand why. It’s super easy to replay and the feeling of getting better is damn satisfying!
Because of its beloved status, most people met the announcement of the soon-to-be released remake with the same question: why? Why bother remaking one of the greatest video games ever made?
To that, Capcom responded as most drunk dudes in college do: “Check this shit out!” They then dropped the official demo on us. After that, pretty much all doubts were assuaged.
The demo is a fairly short one. It only covers the opening minutes of the game, from Leon meeting the villagers all the way to the battle for survival in the village itself. I finished the whole thing in thirty minutes on my first go.
I then immediately hopped in for a second. Then a third. Let me tell you: if this demo is indicative of the final product, this game is gonna blow the original out of the water!
For me, at least. Gotta clarify that, otherwise this game’s Holy Knights will crucify me.
Right away, this game sets itself apart from the original. What was once a small house with two rooms that you blast through in less than a minute is now a full-on horror set piece. It’s much darker, longer, and far more interesting.
Whereas the original game only made light attempts to actually be scary, the remake goes all-in on the horror theme with this opening. The Gonados are far creepier here, coming at you even when their heads are resting at a 90 degree angle on their shoulders. The house itself is a far more grotesque and unsettling place; it feels much more like the opening minutes of Resident Evil 2 Remake than it does the original game.
Of course, that feeling goes away once you reach the village itself. Here, we’re treated to the iconic village battle for survival. An iconic moment of the original game that no one thought could be topped.
So, how do they top it in the remake? Well, they don’t fix what ain’t broke. They just added onto it.
In the original game, your options were simple but numerous. When any enemy attacks you, you can run, shoot them, throw a grenade, slash with the knife, jump through windows, kick or even suplex the baddies, push down ladders, on and on it goes. All of that in this one tiny little location. You’re constantly making choices, desperately adapting as the villagers close in around you.
Remake takes all of these options and adds on top of them. Leon can now crouch, giving him new stealth options; you can even duck beneath flying weapons if you can’t shoot them out of the air first. Can’t avoid a strike in time? Parry it with your knife! You can even be a heartless monster and light the cow on fire!
And before you ask: yes. You can still get eggs from the chickens.
Yes, that is important.
In case that weren’t enough, the enemies themselves also act very differently from the original. In the old game, they basically had two strategies: charge you or throw a weapon at you. Now, they can grab you to let other enemies hit you. The Chainsaw Gonado can no longer decapitate you in one hit (to my knowledge), but they now have a berserker state that can make them far more dangerous than they already were.
That may not seem like much, but remember: these are the most basic enemies in the game. We still need to see the Plagas, the armor knights, the robed cultists, the island soldiers, the Regenerator, and all the boss fights! If the villagers are anything to go by, the enemy variety is gonna be insane!
Finally, we have the quality of life improvements. RE4 is a game that came out in 2005 and you can really feel that in how the game controls. The tank controls, having to open the menu every time you want to swap weapons, the aiming (some people still like that last one, which is fine, but I don’t share that opinion), it definitely shows its age.
Remake adds tons of improvements that make the game that much smoother to play. Weapons can now be assigned to the d-pad for quick swapping that doesn’t interrupt the gameplay. Leon controls much more smoothly; gone are the tank controls and gone are the days of standing still to aim. My biggest gripes with the original game, gone!
All of this combined made the demo for this Remake one of the most tense and fun experiences I’ve ever had with a Resident Evil game! It had me grinning from ear to ear, even when I was panicking on the edge of my seat!
Fuck, even the demo has cool secrets in it! If you follow a ridiculously obscure set of actions, you can open a hidden chamber beneath the village. Inside, you can get the TMP early! There’s even a hidden difficulty setting!
Between this demo and the Street Fighter 6 beta, one thing is becoming clear:
Capcom knows exactly how to pull my strings.
Granted, the demo is not the full game. For all we know, the full game will be a buggy, unplayable mess and all my optimism displayed here will rot like a tomato left out in the sun. Countless games have fallen to that fate in the past. Every single paragraph in this article should end with: “Take this all with a grain of salt.”
But I choose to hope. My whole life may be burning down around me, but at least I can have faith that Capcom will continue to make good games.