You might want to bookmark this article. This is gonna be a loooong review.
A few weeks back, I published an article sharing my thoughts on the demo for the RE4 Remake. I really loved it! But that was a demo. It’s like cake; having one bite is a totally different experience from eating the whole thing.
Now, however, the full game is out. So, was it worth it? Was it as good as the demo led me to hope? Or, like the time I ate an entire birthday cake alone, will I be proven a fool?
Yes, I have eaten entire cakes on my own before. As in plural. No, I don’t want to talk about it.
You guys know the drill. The president’s daughter, Ashley Graham, has been kidnapped. Now it’s up to Leon Kennedy to find and rescue her! But when they’re both infected by a deadly parasite, their escape becomes a race against time! Can Leon protect his charge and get away in one piece?
Now, let me make one thing clear. In this review, I’m going to be making a ton of comparisons to the original RE4. This isn’t intended to show that the Remake is better than the original or vice versa. Rather, it’s to highlight just how different this new game is while still managing to capture the magic that made that original game so amazing.
One of the best aspects of the original RE4’s story was how goofy it was. That was a game where you fought a two-foot tall man and ran away from a giant stone robot and delivered cheesy one-liners. It was delightfully dumb and it reveled in it. At the same time, it took itself just seriously enough at times to deliver genuine scares and build a creepy atmosphere.
The remake, thankfully, maintains this aspect of the original. It fully embraces its goofiness, maintaining the one-liners and the over-the-top action while maintaining its darker tone. Sure, it’s a bit more tame than the original; no giant robots this time. Still, the story has that same charm.
In many ways, this game’s story is a direct sequel to the RE2 Remake. A large part of it is dedicated to Leon struggling to deal with the lingering trauma from that night. In Raccoon City, he couldn’t save anyone. Now, he’s determined for this mission to be different. As someone who absolutely loved the RE2 Remake – and recently replayed it in preparation for this game – I really enjoy this new take!
At the same time, it greatly expands on what was there and what was missing from the original. Leon and Ashley’s relationship is fleshed out a great deal; you can feel them getting closer and the two have some really charming banter. Luis also gets far more time in the spotlight rather than being unceremoniously killed off halfway through the game. The village chief actually has personality this time. The list of changes is as long as the game itself.
Unfortunately, cuts have also been made. Salazar has lost a lot of his goofy charisma that made him such a fun villain in the original (why’d they take away his hat?) Ada’s role in the story feels a bit bare bones this time around; her personality from the original, even from RE2 Remake, has been almost entirely stripped away.
Despite these flaws, the story in this game is still incredible! It’s a ton of fun and it’s fully engaging from beginning to end! The remake’s take on RE4’s plot has quickly become one of my favorite video game stories!
Graphically speaking, this game looks stellar! Capcom’s RE engine is running at a higher capacity than ever before! Running this game on PS5, I was consistently amazed by the sheer amount of detail in all the environments. Even more so with the character models; the hair just looks so good, and all the little details of the enemies, like how the Plagas will wriggle around inside mutilated corpses, adds to the immersion immensely!
There’s also an insane amount of small details that really adds to the experience. For example: Leon will react differently at the end of a battle depending on how you did. If you got through it without a problem, he’ll make a cocky quip. If you struggled, he’ll let out a little sigh and rub his muscles. It’s a small detail you may not even notice, but it makes it that much easier to connect with the character!
As for the cutscenes, I was genuinely surprised by how impressive the direction was! One of my favorite scenes takes practically at the start of the game, between Leon and Luis. The two are chained together; one pulls at the chain and it pulls at the other person. As the two talk, the push and pull of the chain matches the flow of their conversation. When Leon goes into interrogation mode, he pulls the chains tight to draw Luis in. When the two are attacked, they wordlessly put their differences aside to work together, fighting with the chain. It’s an amazing sequence that genuinely blew me away!
That being said, it isn’t perfect. For example, the death animations. Leon has a wide variety of death animations, just like in the original. Only some of these look really rough around the edges. The one where the villagers gouge out his eyes looks particularly awkward.
And before you bring up the rain: that got fixed in a day one patch. The rain we get in the actual game looks jaw-dropping! The storm that hits after you rescue Ashley actually had me gaping like a moron!
The voice acting is really solid all around. Some of the delivery on the cheesier lines is a bit rough, but that only adds to the charm to me. Everyone is solid all around.
Everyone, that is, except for Ada’s voice actress. She sounded bored delivering every line. Maybe she could have shone brighter if the character had more screen time. Who can say?
Genevieve Buechner as Ashley is definitely the highlight. She perfectly captures the sheer terror the character is constantly feeling without ever becoming annoying, as the OG Ashely could become. Her screaming is some of the most genuine I’ve ever heard from a voice performance!
Music wise, the new OST is pretty cool! But if that’s not your style, don’t worry! You can set it to the original score, sound effects and all, just like in the RE2 remake!
Provided you pay for it as DLC. Capcom’s still out to make that money.
Finally, we come to the gameplay. For the most part, the original game still holds up to this day. How does this remake shake things up in order to justify its own existence?
Where do I even begin?
This is a survival action-horror game. In each level, Leon must battle his way through gauntlets of enemies, all with limited resources and weaponry. When you’re not slaughtering or sneaking your way through these hordes or having an intense boss fight, you’re exploring the world for treasure, making deals with the Merchant, crafting, or just sorting out your briefcase.
Combat in this game is a ton of fun. Each one is a hectic struggle for survival, with Leon being armed with all sorts of cool items and abilities. Gun your enemies down, parry their incoming strikes with your knife, or just sneak up to them and slit their throats to try avoiding drawing in more enemies. Variety is at the heart of each battle.
This is furthered by the massively various cast of enemies you’ll face in the game. From the basic villagers to the wide variety of parasites and monsters, from animal-headed brutes to the iconic chainsaw guys, no two enemies in this game behave the same way. Not to mention that they’re all surprisingly brutal; even the game’s weakest enemies pose a threat.
Especially when they surround and stun-lock you to death like you’re Julius Caesar.
Of course, there are the boss fights. While maintaining their resemblance to the monsters of the original, each of these fights is wildly different. Not only are they the toughest battles, they’re also the most fun!
Pacing was the ultimate strength of the original RE4. It always felt like you were coming across new areas, new enemies, new challenges, new varieties of gameplay. This kept on and on all the way until the end. It’s a large factor for why that game is still so damn fun even today!
The remake doesn’t move as insanely fast as the original, but the variety is still present and accounted for. One minute, you’re fighting through an angry horde and solving puzzles. The next, an angry giant is throwing boulders at you. Not long after that, you’re sneaking through a maze or fighting on a rollercoaster. This game truly never gets dull!
Sadly, not every set piece from the original made it in. No running away from a giant robot, no laser walls, etc. But for each one they remove, they add a brand new one in its place. All of this new content is a delight, with all of them becoming memorable highlights of the game.
Now, I know what you’re probably asking. What you’ve probably been asking this entire time. The same question every RE4 player ever was asking ever since this remake was announced.
What about Ashley?
Remake Ashley functions very differently from the original. Whereas before all you could do was tell her to wait, follow, or hide, now you can only tell her to stick close to you or give you some space. The number of places you can hide her away has been severely limited, making it nigh impossible to just get her out of the way. Thankfully, this time around she doesn’t have an HP bar, so she won’t die as easily as before.
She also has much more agency this time around. In certain fights, she’ll contribute in small ways to help Leon manage enemies. And her playable section has been greatly expanded. In the original, it was a somewhat scary novelty with a terrible block puzzle. Now, it’s one of the best parts of the whole game!
That being said, Ashley is still Ashley. So expect her to run directly into the line of fire. Frequently.
As for side content, as it currently stands, this game is pretty bare. You’ve got a plethora of in-game challenges to complete for unlockables, but that’s it. Mercenaries mode isn’t there yet, and Separate Ways has been completely removed.
Although there is a surprising amount of unlockable content. Namely costumes and cosmetics for Leon and Ashley. Want to turn Ashley’s hair bright blue? Wanna give Leon some sunglasses? You can do all of that and much more.
Can’t wait to see some truly cursed cosmetic builds for this game.
Within the main story itself, you can now take on several side quests to break up the pacing. These are a mixed bag. Some of them are really fun, like fights with super-powered versions of ordinary enemies or goofy activities. Others are really tedious, like shooting blue medallions or killing rats. By the end of the game, I completely lost interest in them and just focused on the main story.
And before you ask: yes. The shooting range is back. Yes, that is important. In fact, it’s very important!
In the shooting gallery, you can unlock different accessories to customize your attaché case. These aren’t just cute cosmetics referencing the original game, either; each one has a stat boost that’ll make surviving easier, such as discounts on the shop or healing boosts. All through an entirely optional minigame
Did Resident Evil 4 need a remake? No. The original game may be a bit rough around the edges, but it still holds up even to this day.
Is the remake worth it? Absolutely! This new game is a genuine masterpiece through and through! If you love Resident Evil, action-horror games, or just fun games in general, download the demo and give it a shot. If you enjoy that, you’ll love the full game!
But now, the question is: which do you play? The old one or the new one? The answer might surprise you.
Both. The answer is both.