Resident Evil has been a long-running franchise in the survival horror genre. From the original release back in 1996 to the franchise’s most recent release Resident Evil: Village, the series has seen a variety of incredible highs and lows. If you were to ask someone what their favorite Resident Evil game is, you could get a wide variety of answers. However, Resident Evil 4 is a standout in the series as it blends over-the-top B-movie action, with a focus on survival horror. Now in 2023 with the release of Resident Evil 4 Remake, Capcom has brought one of its biggest games to the modern era, and to say they knocked it out of the park is an understatement.
Blending The Past With The Present
Nostalgia can certainly cloud your memory when it comes to thinking about games that made an impact on you. If you are a fan of horror, it is likely that Resident Evil 4 holds a special place in your heart. While the original game has aged fairly well in comparison to other games from its time. As time continues to move forward, the game has begun to feel more dated. With clunky controls, braindead AI, and shooting that feels “just ok”. When I started playing Resident Evil 4 Remake, it felt exactly like how it did to me all those years ago. What I mean by this, is that Resident Evil 4 doesn’t feel like an old game at all. It feels like a completely new experience while preserving the core experience of what made the game so good all those years ago.
Resident Evil 4 blends classic aspects of the original beautifully while taking some much-appreciated creative liberties. One of the most iconic sections of the game is in the first 20 minutes of the game. Leon arrives in a village seemingly filled with religious zealots who all want to do obscene harm to him. Upon entering the village square, you will have a seemingly endless parade of “possessed” villagers trying to murder you. Then on top of this, a mask-wearing psychopath with a chainsaw is thrown into the mix. It is a hard portion of the game and throws the player to wolves almost immediately.
Capcom did very little to change this specific encounter in terms of the overall design. Hell, some of the techniques I used to avoid and outmaneuver zombies still worked from the original game. But what I instantly noticed was how much faster these enemies were. Yes, some of them were slow and shambling just like in the original game. But some of these villagers would keep pace with me even when I was sprinting for my life. This means if I didn’t dispatch them quickly and efficiently, I would become overwhelmed in seconds. It made an already hectic section of the game even more intense. This is just one example of many where Capcom preserved the true core of a moment within the game. But still managed to change it enough to make even the most seasoned Resident Evil fan have to think twice.
Variety Is The Spice Of Life
Often my biggest complaint with zombie games is that the setting and enemy variety can become quickly boring and repetitive. How many zombie games over the years have gotten exhausting after killing the same 5 zombie models over and over again? This is not the case in Resident Evil 4 Remake. There is what feels like a new enemy type thrown at you every hour from the beginning of the game till the end. These new enemy types will seemingly come out of nowhere as well, and you will find yourself scrambling trying to dispatch them. The first time you encounter a Regenerador is terrifying. You pump a large amount of ammo and explosives into it, just for it to get back up and keep coming at you. You learn how to dispatch them eventually, but that initial encounter is terrifying.
The variety doesn’t just stop with the enemies, the variety in levels that you will traverse throughout your playthrough is astounding. From starting in a dark and mysterious village to a gothic castle filled with a mysterious cult, then finally to a military-style research base. You can explore the world as much or as little as you want. But if you are experiencing the game on higher difficulties, you will likely want to be thorough as possible. To be clear, however, while you can do some backtracking the game doesn’t force you to do it. I did not find any boss on regular difficulty provided such a challenge that I had to scrape the surrounding areas for resources to proceed.
The sheer number of different weapons you can use to dispatch your enemies is impressive. Early on in the game, the weapons you get are very lackluster and seem almost underpowered in the first quarter of the game. However, once you reach the back half of the game you will have the option to buy some premium hardware. From combat shotguns, and assault rifles, to a massive RPG that costs quite a lot of your valuable coin. You can certainly cater your gear to your playstyle, whether you like to keep enemies at a distance. Or if you are like me and like getting up close and personal with a handgun and knife. The game lets you pick your poison. Though I found sometimes it was just easier to throw explosives at the problem instead of trying to be precise and clean about it.
B-Movie Horror At Its Finest
Resident Evil, while the series has had its fair share of terrifying moments. Such as being endlessly hunted by Mr. X and Nemesis in Resident Evil 2 and 3 respectively. I have always found the series to fall into the realm of B-movie horror. In the remake, they really feel like they have dialed that in and cranked it to 11. From the ridiculousness of Ramon Salazar the Count of the castle. Who is so small and diminutive that his threats come across as almost childish. To Luisa Navarro who is a sleazy and frankly overly horny Spaniard with a desire to right his previous wrongs. It really is a ridiculous cast of characters from villains to heroes.
Modern Resident Evil has leaned heavily into the horror angle, with some of the most terrifying moments in the genre in recent memory. But Resident Evil 4 Remake, while it does have its horrifying moments, it feels much closer to a comedy in its overall delivery. The dialogue is corny, filled with witty one-liners and some absolutely groan-inducing humor. Ashley is constantly getting hauled off by plague-infested monks like a small child who was caught out of bed by her parents. I cannot count how many times I accidentally shot Ashley instead of the monk carrying her off and got a game over screen from it. But every time it happened, I didn’t become frustrated. I simply laughed at the hilarity of the whole scenario.
Preserving The History Of Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 is very much like Skyrim in terms of its availability. You can purchase Resident Evil 4 on just about any platform imaginable, and I tip my hat to Capcom for this. In an era where it’s almost impossible to track down playable versions of so many classic games without having to resort to ROMs and fan-made ports. I appreciate that the original is available still for those who want to experience it. As well as creating a modern interpretation for those that cannot see past the dated visuals and gameplay of the original.
Often in the video game space, so many companies seem to claim they want to preserve their titles. But often their actions do not align with the statements they make. However, Capcom has done an excellent job of preserving its past, while also modernizing it for a new audience. I know not every company can reasonably do this, but part of me wishes they could. Now if only Capcom would go back and bring a game like Dino Crisis to modern platforms, but that’s a different conversation for a different time.
Resident Evil 4 Remake Is A Must-Play Instant Classic All Over Again
Is Resident Evil 4 Remake a corny B-movie horror title filled to the brim with monsters and action? Absolutely and that is what makes the game so special in the first place. You will laugh, you will jump, and you will get frustrated with Ashley getting carried off again. But all of this combines to make undeniably one of the best 3rd person action games ever made. Whether you are a fan of the original or have never played a Resident Evil game before, Resident Evil 4 Remake is a wonderful place to be introduced into this terrifying and ridiculous franchise.