After accidentally falling in love with Resident Evil 2 remake back in 2019, I never could have expected to continuously be impressed with Capcom’s ability to perfect a remake. By accidentally, I mean I had barely played horror games and thought trying the free demo for the remake would be a fun test for jump scares. Instead, I was immediately invested in the story, the world, and the thrilling horrors that the Resident Evil universe has to offer. Getting to review Resident Evil 4 remake made me grateful that I had the guts to try that demo. My 15-hour experience was filled with fast-paced combat, interesting story beats, and terrifying encounters.
Anticipations ran high for Resident Evil 4 remake, since Resident Evil 2 was my 2019 game of the year, and its sequel was just as fun. Despite this, I was not disappointed in the slightest. It’s the second time we fill the shoes of Leon S. Kennedy, who returns with much more experience. Back in Racoon City, just like Leon, I felt much weaker and straining for ammo. But now you’re a more hardened Leon set on a mission to save the president’s daughter. No more rookie police officer.
While Resident Evil 2 drenched you in the feeling of powerlessness, Resident Evil 4 is more the opposite. And sometimes it breaks that mold by throwing you into a situation you’re not prepared for. I appreciate this, since I loved how scared I felt playing the RE 2 remake with such little ammo and training. More often than not, RE 4 really let’s you feel prepared to face anything. This action-packed horror shooter that reached critical acclaim in 2005 still hits in the remake nearly 20 years later.
This time, it can be different
Even if you played the original Resident Evil 4, Capcom made sure to keep the iconic features while adding new details and changes to this remake. I don’t know everything about the original, since I’ve only played the remakes — besides Resident Evil 7 and 8. This gives me a fresh outlook into this classic horror title that everyone has raved about. But nevertheless, this remake will surely not disappoint you.
In RE 2, I avoided wasting ammo on enemies that I could pass by easily. But in Resident Evil 4, the game throws double the amount of enemies at you — and you must mow through. You’re granted an array of weapons, either through chests or sales from the fan-favorite Merchant. Any time I was afraid of losing too much ammo, I was able to find the right resources to keep my guns full enough. This also means you have to be smart about which ammo you should prioritize crafting, which the remake brings to the original formula. It’s almost like a strategy game on its own.
As Leon makes his way into this rural town in Spain, you quickly realize that something is wrong with these residents. But this isn’t the infection from Racoon City; it’s something far different. The game leaves trails of notes and documents detailing how Las Plagas works and where it came from. These infected also have autonomy — to a degree — unlike the zombies you’re used to fighting. You’re engaged in heart-racing fights that go from avoiding being grabbed, to shooting, and it repeats. There’s no such thing as sitting still in Resident Evil 4.
Iconic characters revised
Capcom has done a stellar job at recreating its iconic Resident Evil characters in the RE Engine. Leon probably looks most similar to his old character model and outfit, whereas every other character has had some kind of upgrade. While you may miss Ada’s long red dress, she gets instead a different sleek red sweater that still matches her style. Speaking of Ada, one thing that was revised from Resident Evil 2 remake was her voice actor. It is a noticeable change, but not one that alters her character too much.
You can hear another slight voice change from Leon. While the same actor from Resident Evil 2 remake plays Leon again, you can hear a drop in his voice. The once more jovial rookie officer is now the more matured government agent. This is a change that makes sense, and makes you further understand how much he has grown in the past few years.
Other than Leon and Ada, there were many other standout characters. Each of their new designs felt unique enough from the original game as well. Ashley, the president’s daughter, got an overhaul. And if you’re wondering whether she’s annoying in the remake, she really isn’t. Capcom seemed to hone in on making Ashley someone you care about saving. Although, there were numerous times that I failed to notice an enemy throwing her over their shoulders. She can’t defend herself, but it wasn’t much of a hassle to make them drop her.
Change can be good
Similar to the original, Leon has certain controls over Ashley. There are changes to these controls, but they make all the difference. You can ask her to keep her distance, or to stay close to you. There are even spots that need you two to work together to progress, or things you can ask her to hide in. Making her hide is the way to go, since Ashley can avoid combat but not very well. In the remake, when she gets hit, you don’t have to heal her. Instead, you just have to pick her back up. Luis, another beloved side character, returns in style. Although he can be deceiving at times, the moments you have with him are quite fun.
Sadly, I cannot say much about what has changed from the original to the remake. But understand that there are a few additions that I believe will make players more engaged and willing to do a second ‘new game plus’ playthrough.
One thing that I can talk about is the combat maneuvers. On that subject, I feel the only tricky part was the evade mechanic, which the game only lets you do with an all-too-brief button prompt. I feel Capcom should’ve implemented a dodge option available at all times. Some enemy moves would prompt an evade, while others wouldn’t, even though it felt needed as Leon couldn’t dash out of the way in time.
Other than my yearning for a better dodge mechanic, Leon can now parry attacks in a variety of ways. Shooting at a thrown object, such as a molotov or axe, can create some really interesting combat interactions. But of course, you can parry with your knife from most attacks. I recommend you set the parry option to ‘left click’ — a very helpful setting option. Parrying is powerful, as with the right timing you can swiftly follow up with a melee attack. This does damage your knife over time, but you can repair it and increase its durability if you have the cash.
Same old Resident Evil
While there are certainly many changes to Resident Evil 4 remake, a lot of what sits at the core of the franchise still resides here. The writing is enjoyable, but can sometimes be cheesy. Leon is the master of one-liners that will either make you laugh or cringe a little. But honestly, you can never take Resident Evil too seriously, so I didn’t mind the writing. Some of the major action moments were either really impressive or a little on the corny side.
Resident Evil 4 was a major turn in the franchise that may have left some horror fans wanting more. Luckily, there were many moments in the remake that evened the pace of those action moments. Capcom knows its roots, and proves again that it really know how to make you jump out of your skin. There were definitely times that I wished the horror moments would go on a little longer, but I also appreciated when they gave me breaks from some of those dark, creepy hallways.
Squeaky clean polishing
Capcom’s RE Engine continuously proves to be one of the best-looking engines I’ve ever witnessed. Although I built my PC under a year ago with a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, the RE Engine usually looks spectacular regardless. Even in cutscenes, the character models are intricate and realistic. You can see every little detail in their skin and hair in those close-up shots. Not only are the character models great, but the environments are immersive and thoroughly designed.
I also appreciated having a photo example to go with every specific graphic toggle in the settings. It really helped me — someone who doesn’t know what something like ambient occlusion means — understand what settings I was changing and how it could help my performance. Luckily, throughout my whole playthrough, I didn’t notice a single glitch. Only one crash happened, and there wasn’t any reason I could see for it. Nevertheless, Resident Evil 4 remake feels extremely polished on PC.
Every moment counts
This remake balances its pacing pretty well. If I had to break it down, I would say that the pillars that make up this game are puzzles, combat, and downtime. Like in usual Resident Evil fashion, the puzzles aren’t overly complex, nor super easy to complete. I can’t say they’re as intricate as the 2019 remake puzzles, with you earning new items that you’d have to figure out where to use in the Police Station. But the puzzles still make you think, and can go from unlocking a complex door to finding pieces to complete a statue.
The combat moments never drag on for too long, allowing you to still have some ammo left for the next fight. Things become more hectic as the game progresses, but you can upgrade your weapons or buy new items that help you face enemy encounters better. The only gripe I had on combat were a few of the boss fights. The fights themselves were great, but not always the areas they took place in. Most were spacious, while a certain few felt way too cramped, giving Leon less area to run from a sweeping attack.
Moment I would categorize as downtime include exploration or character moments. There were so many nooks and crannies hiding resources, causing me to comb over every inch of a space. It felt rewarding to crawl under somewhere and find something the game was hiding from me. I also appreciated the moments between Leon and some of the characters, but they were sometimes lacking. And by that I only mean I wish there was more. Otherwise, the conversations between characters were nice to hear, since you’re usually alone most of the game.
Overall, I had an excellent experience playing and reviewing Resident Evil 4 remake. Whether you’re new to the franchise, or have played the original dozens of times, Capcom has nailed another remake that you’ll likely love or fall in love with all over again. There were only a few gripes I had during my playthrough, but none of them could overtake my overall enjoyment. If you’re looking to play a polished AAA horror action game, you’ve come to the right place.