Resident Evil 4 Remake finally caught up with Leon. Just as Resi 4’s protagonist grew up when we first saw him in the 2005 original, Capcom has finally made a game that reflects just how much he’s grown up – but that doesn’t mean the campiness of the original cult classic has been lost; it just evolved to fit the tone of the series more.
The original Resident Evil 4 pushed the series down a more action-oriented path, and after teasing a less horror-oriented path for a while, it was with the original game that Capcom got action and survival horror right.
But Resident Evil is, at its core, a terrible horror series. Even the best. Resident Evil 4 takes a bit of a detour, and as fantastic as Resident Evil 4 Remake was, it shows us that this part of the series can be just as gritty, tense and scary as the rest – without compromising on fun.
I will say what you undoubtedly want (or perhaps unwillingly) hear; yes, there were a lot of changes in Resident Evil 4 Remake. For the most part for the better, although — unless I’m allowed to go into detail just yet — I was disappointed from time to time.
The original game was a cult classic in its own right because of its campy moments; it’s something the community knows, loves, and often associates with. It was definitely disappointing to see some of Leon’s most iconic moments cut, but I can’t say it wasn’t expected. Resident Evil 4 Remake clearly needed room to develop into what it is – a great game – but it lacks some of the original’s best moments.
However, what has been added in place of these iconic moments feels sleek, modern and relevant. If you want an old game, the narrative is similar enough to satisfy you. The plot, combat, and characters in Resident Evil 4 Remake have been refined and trimmed down to their prime, and what we’re left with is one hell of an adventure, albeit a less quirky one.
Combat in the series has always been fun, but long gone are the days of standing still to shoot, wrestle with tank controls to get your character through a door. Sure, you’ll undoubtedly get staged or cornered from time to time, but the more interactive environment (where the fights feel more impactful) makes up for it. As well as extended boss fights. With an intuitive crafting menu and a more functional inventory for loading grenades, ammo and medicine at a glance, it feels more immediate and engaging.
Aside from how it feels in your hands, the most impressive thing about Resident Evil 4 Remake is its story. For those unfamiliar with the game, in the original game, Leon goes to a Spanish village to rescue the US president’s daughter, Ashley. The original was a little lacking in color, with underdeveloped characters and out-of-context narrative bytes. The remake addresses this issue and takes into account each character’s stories and personalities more than ever.
Result? Ashley looks, sounds and works much better as a companion. She has the character of a true daughter of the elite; fully fleshed out, no longer accompanying us just to belligerently yell at Leon. She’s even really badass this time around, with witty quips and a personality that makes her character feel more human – more than just another NPC. We can tell her to stay closer or stay away, and she’ll even warn us when a Ganado is approaching us from behind. And it never seems overbearing.
I hated the segments with Ashley in the original. How many nights I fell asleep with “Leon, help!” still ringing in your ears? In the remake, Ashley is actually humanized, no longer destined to be an eye candy for the players (we have Ada for that, right?) Ashley is the privileged daughter of someone important, sure, but that’s not all of her personality anymore. She is no longer completely inept or destined to hide in the dumps. Now she can even climb down the stairs herself! Imagine it.
Let’s not forget Louis and Ada either. Who, without giving too much of a spoiler, we’ll see a bit more of during the Remake (following a pattern well established in Resident Evil Remakes 2 and 3). And these are not the only people with whom we will meet face to face more than once. You better believe, Resident Evil 4 Remake is full of surprises.
I can’t stop playing. So much so that my plans for New Game Plus (yes, there is a New Game Plus!) are to do as stealthy a run as possible using only Leon’s knife. I probably won’t make it that far before having to repair it, but I’m looking forward to seeing the Resident Evil content creators do what they do best with this enhanced version of Resident Evil 4: The crazy runs of the game that this remake was so conscious form for placement.
I can’t put into words how excited I am to see the community’s reaction to these changes and to see others experience the story of Resident Evil 4 on such a grand scale for the first time. Of course, some will be disappointed to see their favorite moment lost in time, but I’m sure that the Remake will pleasantly surprise even the most nostalgic players.
The ongoing string of successful Resident Evil remakes also gives me hope for the future. I’ve made it clear over time that I’m not the biggest fan of Resident Evil 5 or 6, but this remake – and seeing all the intricate details woven into a remake of this timeless classic without losing its charm – has made me more open to will continue