Even before its official announcement in June 2021, the Resident Evil 4 remake is a game many fans (including myself) couldn’t wait to sink their teeth into. Following the franchise’s 2017 revival with Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, Capcom followed it up with the legendary remake of Resident Evil 2. However, some fans tempered their excitement, citing the unfortunate disappointment of Resident Evil 3 remake’s plague of cut content.
Yet, the original Resident Evil 4 (2005) remains a standout entry in the series. After defining the survival horror genre with the original Resident Evil in 1996, Capcom redefined it once again with RE4. For the first time in series history, players took an over-the-shoulder perspective for gameplay. Additionally, intense action sequences began to replace the more suspenseful exploration focus of the previous games.
So, could the Resident Evil 4 remake revitalize a classic entry like RE2 did? Or would it suffer the same critical fate as RE3? Well, without further adieu, let’s dive into my experience with Resident Evil 4 (2023).
A familiar sense of fear with some new twists
Creating a good video game remake is a daunting task where developers must find the perfect balance of keeping the original game’s identity intact, while making enough changes to make the new title feel fresh. After jumping into Resident Evil 4, I can confidently say that Capcom found this balance flawlessly. From the opening cutscenes, you can see where the developers found ways to keep the overall story present, while adding enough new details to make the game not feel like simply a new coat of paint.
One detail I’m very happy to see is the added emotional depth of Leon. While Leon is still an agent working under the President of the United States, the game makes it more evident that Leon still carries emotional baggage from Raccoon City. Like anyone who joined the police force, only for your first day on the job to be fending off against zombies and other horrible monsters, the terrors Leon experienced in RE2 continue to haunt him. In fact, he even mentions that his selection to serve under the President was less of a choice. But even through the rigorous training for the position, he used it as a way to cope with the trauma.
However, it’s not just in Leon’s character arc that we see subtle changes to familiar moments. If you played the original RE4, you’re going to feel nostalgia just as much as you’ll be hit with surprises. For example, when you face the first Genado, you may feel some subtle disappointment at first to find the encounter takes place through a cutscene. However, explore the cabin a little more, and you’ll realize you’re not done with him.
Ain’t that a kick in the head?
If you played either of the previous two Resident Evil remakes, you should feel comfortable with RE4‘s gameplay. Though the original title already had an over-the-shoulder perspective, it did still feature tank-like controls that stiffened movement and prohibited players from moving while aiming. Like the last two remakes, however, RE4 makes combat and traversal feel smoother and more natural. Regardless, old habits die hard. Therefore, you may find yourself still planting Leon in a stationary position to shoot at the oncoming Genados.
Also in the remake are mechanics not found in RE2 and RE3 but are found in the original 2005 game. For instance, the roundhouse kick returns just as useful as ever. In addition, Leon regains his abilities to jump through windows and hurdle over obstacles. Knife combat blends mechanics from the 2005 game and the remakes by allowing you to slash at Genados to conserve ammo, while also implementing durability that chips away at the knife over time, eventually breaking it.
One entirely new mechanic in RE4 is the ability to crouch and perform stealth takedowns. I absolutely love that Capcom added stealth to the game because it gives players the option to use strategy when encountering enemies that can ultimately make combat easier, or in some cases, make it completely avoidable. In a game where managing your resources and ammo is crucial to success, sneaky takedowns with your knife fit more than perfectly.
Resident Evil 4 (2023) initial thoughts wrap-up
Overall, though I’m only a couple hours into the game, I have to say that Resident Evil 4 is a masterpiece… again! In fact, since this is only a “First Impressions” piece and not a full review, I even had to omit gameplay elements and scenarios that shocked me in my first couple hours just so this article wouldn’t become a novel. It’s rare in today’s age for modern AAA games to actually live up to the hype, but this game actually exceeded it!
To make things even more impressive, this game actually released on time without a single delay. Better yet, despite complications in the PC version, I haven’t encountered a single bug or glitch on PS5. While that on its own shouldn’t be all that impressive, given the state of modern gaming, I had to point it out. Although I still have quite a ways to go before I finish the game, I’m beyond excited to continue. From what I experienced in my first couple hours alone, Resident Evil 4 is the perfect video game remake. Kudos to Capcom!
You can play Resident Evil 4 now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S and PC!