Resident Evil 4 Remake Review – Lost in Revision

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Resident Evil 4 Remake Review – Lost in Revision

We're braved our way through creepy villages and castles to tell you how Resident Evil 4 Remake stacks up to the original.

Let me start off strong. Resident Evil 4 Remake is an excellent title. It brings the original Resident Evil 4 to the modern age by making innovative improvements and incorporating the lessons learned in the Resident Evil 2 & 3 Remakes.

And now that I've done the necessary lip service, I get to be more critical about it. In the following review, I'll try to evaluate this landmark title on its own while comparing it to the original, so stay tuned!

There is no way you can remake what is essentially the blueprint of every modern third-person action title and stick the landing. And honestly, who'd want to be in the position to remake the most influential title of the past 20 years?

Reviewed on PlayStation 5

Resident Evil 4 The Master Piece

To say Resident Evil 4 was a big thing is an understatement. It is the “often imitated but never duplicated” of video games. And considering the game just happened to burn through all the good ideas and mistakes at once with no restraint, purely by accident, mind you. It was lightning in a bottle.

Resident Evil 4 is the kind of game that can only exist when a team of developers throws caution to the wind to get something out the door. And just the first and second game in the series, development was a mess. So, with no regard for pleasing fans, Shinji Mikami and his team just made a game that they felt confident about.

Has it worked out for them right? Besides the fact that the legacy of Resident Evil 4 seems to haunt poor Shinji Mikami to this day.

Now we have a remake that is everything you'd expect a polished remake of a beloved masterpiece to be. Its tone got reigned in to be more consistent with the current state o the franchise, gameplay got improved while being faithful to the original and the visuals and story got a complete overhaul to be more modern.

I'm not happy about these things. Considering that Resident Evil 4's rough edges made it so iconic in the first place, now it feels a little neutered. But it's still Resident Evil 4 underneath it all and if you're coming from the recent Remakes, you're gonna be exposed to one of the wildest trips in gaming.

Resident Evil 4 Remake - Leon S. Kennedy takes a trip

Retold, Refined, Revised, and Lost in the Process

After the events of Racoon City, everyone's favorite one-day cop, and himbo Leon S. Kennedy still has to live in the fallout of that fateful September night. That's also where most of the connections to the second game end. While there are some returning characters, the story of Resident Evil 4 exists in its own bubble.

Now part of a government organization, Leon is on a mission to rescue the daughter of the president from a strange village somewhere in rural Europe.

While the overall story beats are the same as the original, some aspects of the story have been expanded upon while others got changed to make the game more palatable. While the originals story wasn't groundbreaking, it was the presentation made it legendary.

These changes make sense for the most part, like defusing some of the 2000s horniness of the script or inserting the game's lore into the larger Resident Evil canon. But something vital was lost here that I can't put my finger on.

Resident Evil 4 was at its best when the ridiculous setting just let itself play out. A cult infected with superpowered parasites, hammy villains with overly evil nonsense plans to take over the world, and our wannabe action hero being over it since this is like the 3rd or 4th time this has happened to him.

The Resident Evil 4 Remake tries to take itself a little more seriously, in a story that doesn't really have the capabilities to do so. Maybe it's because the game tries to have it both ways, be more serious and grounded like the Resident Evil 2 Remake while also delivering the goods.

Leon will still throw out his corny one-liners that sound like someone with zero social skills trying to act tough. They just don't hit as hard as they used to. Maybe it's because of the English voice acting, but Leon sounds like a 13-year-old pretending to be Leon while facing the school bully.

Little side tangent here; I played the game in german on my second run and I like the voice direction a lot more. While the acting is still not as hammy as I'd personally like it, Leon sounds a lot more like the wannabe tough guy he used to be.

I don't want to knock the Remake too hard for this. With the fancy, realistic graphics and more severe games being popular now it makes sense. If Resident Evil 7 & 8 got away with it, why not the Resident Evil 4 Remake?

Resident Evil 4 Remake - He then gets lost

An Average Day in the Life of Leon S. Kennedy

Let's talk about the game itself. The structure, much like the original, is still much Resident Evil, just more linear. Instead of navigating huge puzzle boxes, you navigate little puzzle bubbles instead that sometimes loop back into themselves.

This is still a survival game, so you'll have to manage your resources like ammunition and healthcare. The big difference from previous entries is that you are forced into many combat encounters. They are rarely avoidable and enemies will also drop valuable resources, so you're encouraged to dispatch them as effectively as possible.

The puzzles you solve aren't really brain scratchers. Most of them involve just getting a special key or moving a thing. Exploration is always encouraged for goodies and extra resources.

Here is a hot gamer tip, Resident Evil 4 Remake, just like the original, uses a dynamic difficulty. Enemy health and item drops depend on how you play. The game also tries to squeeze you for resources, so you have a constant lack of time, so combat remains stressful.

These goodies are usually treasures that you can sell, the dosh you make from this is then used to upgrade your weapons and or purchase new ones.

All of this happens at the merchant, who is Resident Evil 4's and probably the entire franchise's most iconic character. “Whatta ya buyin'? Whatta ya sellin'?” This time around, he also hands you some quests to do for extra goodies.

None of those quests are particularly interesting, though, shooting 3 rats or 5 blue symbols feels more like busy work when you're plundering the locals. They never felt that substantial either, considering that switching gun types usually breaks the bank in your initial playthrough.

This gameplay loop worked in 2005 and it works in 2023, especially with the improved combat and all the cool things the RE engine can do. But compared to the original, the Remake falls a little short thanks to its more unified approach to the overall structure of the game.

None of us miss the quick time event button prompts of the olden days, at the same time, you never knew what Resident Evil 4 would throw at you. Walk down a path? Get chased by a truck. Try and open a door? Dodge some lasers. Stupid, nonsense boobytrap? Boobytrap.

Those moments are entirely missing in the Remake. Running away from boulders doesn't really fit with a more serious tone but it isn't replaced by anything either. You'll end up fighting again.

At least some of Resident Evil 4s set pieces are still here. The infamous Waterroom and the minecart ride got great reiterations. Which is why I'm so confused. All the other stuff just got axed. While I don't think they are essential to the experience like some diehards do, their absence makes the game considerably more predictable.

That said, the core loop of exploring increasingly more creepy and bizarre places while being under the constant threat of being jumped still works. While the early village section can feel a little railroaded, the new and improved castle section is one of the series' best. It's a shame that the island didn't get the same treatment.

Resident Evil 4 Remake - And things go wrong

2005 Shooting Reborn

For the milestone Resident Evil 4 is, not many of its detractors managed to recapture its magic. Probably because it wasn't designed as a shooter but as an evolution of Resident Evil combat.

Enemies are obstacles you have to overcome and maybe even avoid to save resources. Combat is always high risk, high reward. Deaths come fast and out of nowhere and sometimes it's better to just slow down the approaching monster instead of trying to get rid of it.

To encourage this and counter the faster nature of combat, Resident Evil 4 and its Remake are extremely interactive. Shooting a crazed villager at you in the leg will cause them to tumble and a well-placed headshot sets them up for a devastating melee attack.

This is why these games always look vastly different depending on the player's skill level. Either you are scared and fumble while aiming at the guy charging at you with a chainsaw, or you confidently kick the shit out of them.

As much as I want to bemoan all the changes the remake makes, the gameplay only lacks the crunchy responsiveness of the original. This is exchanged for a few tricks Leon has learned since his fun night out in the Raccoon City Police Department.

Now you have a parry, stealth takedowns, and a get-out-of-trouble quickly card with his knife. You can also use it to get some damage in, but it never felt worth doing it, considering how valuable its durability is.

This might be a very personal critique, but I wouldn't say I like putting durability on something so vital to combat. Because of Leon's added mobility and options in the remake, combat got faster and messier.

I get understand the need to punish players for getting grabbed but it never feels fair to lose out on your most useful tools. It's the same with the stealth takedowns. While the stealth is serviceable at best, it lets you take out some more nasty enemies prematurely at the cost of durability.

Some enemies can get to get back up stronger after being killed. You can stop that transformation by stabbing them when they're down, but the durability cost mid-battle always feels too much. Even if you can collect extra knives when exploring.

It feels like the game punishes skillful play that way instead of encouraging it. And with the merchant popping up in irregular intervals, you sometimes can't rely on your arguably most useful move.

On the same note, as level design got a bit beefed up two I don't understand why Leon doesn't have that useful dodge and shove Jill had in Resident Evil 3/Remake. You can kind of do it by pressing the spring button and these wide areas give you enough space for such an action.

Capcom, please, let me play more skillfully! The game still feels good and more options would be appreciated, especially when you had them in the previous remake. Now Leon feels a bit stuck in the past and the present.

For some, this might be the road that leads back to Resident Evil 6 but, I do want to go down that road. And once the mercenaries mode is available next month, I hope these little complaints will make more sense.

Resident Evil 4 Remake - Very wrong

Resident Evil 4 Remake is a Visual Feast

Sometimes I wonder what human sacrifices and space magic the engineers at Capcom use to create and update the RE Engine. Since Resident Evil 7s release, it has consistently produced some of the most horrific visuals around while running mostly stable across the board.

The texture work shouldn't come as a surprise since the team at Capcom photo scans many of the game's assets. The worn leather of Leon's jacket all the way to the disgusting patches of skin on some mutated monstrosity.

The level of detail has been beefed up considerably compared to the original. Now many of the places you'll visit feel more like a real location, similar to the rework the RCPD got in Resident Evil 2 Remake. Still, most of the early sections are just corridors looping in and out of each other.

Personally, I'm no fan of the change of art direction. The new village looks way more abandoned compared to the original, which makes the place look less lived in. And considering the cult only took over a few years ago in canon, it looks a little too decrepit.

The game also doesn't feel like it is set in Spain anymore either, not because the locals still speak Mexican Spanish but because the color palette is much colder. It's still fine in isolation but the higher visual fidelity feels a bit overindulgent.

Now everything is overgrown in muted colors, while the original areas always looked more sickly and corrupted instead. Most of this will come down to taste, it still looks good but I also feel as if Resident Evil 4 Remake abandoned the original's unique vibe.

Once we leave the village, there are more noticeable improvements. It's a Resident Evil game set in an over-indulgent, fancy castle still full of traps and nonsense. You know what to expect by now. It's a shame that the last section of the game wasn't due for a complete reimagining, it's still in dire need of one.

8.5/10 A Strong Remake That Only Lives up to the Original's Legacy

Let me be perfectly clear here, Resident Evil 4 Remake is an excellent title with some of the most satisfying gameplay of the past 18 years. But that's cheating because it got to improve and iterate on the game that popularized its entire genre.

What the RE4 Remake proves is just how much the original got right back in 2005 and why it still stands the test of time today.

Every improvement of the Remake is smart and makes perfect sense. It successfully recreates a timeless classic and brings it into the modern age without sacrificing the core ideas that made the original Resident Evil 4 so iconic.

Its core issues are far and wide between, and honestly, if you would look at it on its own, it's a milestone of the action-survival titles of today. But it is a remake of a game that had many of those ideas a long time ago, it just plays faster and has some modern design choices that make it a smoother, more sophisticated experience.

But it's a shame that Capcom only chose to remake Resident Evil 4 as it was 18 years ago instead of revisiting the ideas and design choices that made it such a milestone. Resident Evil 4 Remake chose to please its audience by making the original more palatable and lost some spark in the process.

I would still highly recommend checking it out. Even a ‘lesser' but modern version of Resident Evil 4 is still amazing. And I'm really looking forward to that Mercenaries DLC that'll arrive on April 7.

But Resident Evil 4 Remake just isn't as clever. This will sound pretentious to some after all, the original was campier and all over the place in terms of quality, but it was an insane rollercoaster ride that kept you guessing until it ran out of gas towards the end.

I wished the Remake of Resident Evil 4 did more with the original structure and story in a similar vein to the Resident Evil 3 Remake, which admittedly did a little too much. At least it still offers the same insane replay value every Resident Evil offers.

Resident Evil 4 Remake is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

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Resident Evil 4 Remake Review – Lost in Revision
Timo Reinecke
Has once claimed that FSH is the only job in FFXIV worth playing and stands by that firmly. Top Guy, Smart Guy, Educated Speaker. (sometimes) Writer of all things FFXIV, FGC, News, Reviews and More