Resident Evil 4 Remake Review: Return of the Greatest Nightmare

Making a remake of a classic, after which every third-person game since has tried to emulate, is no easy task. Capcom, though is looking to catch lightning in a bottle for a second time by pushing Leon S. Kennedy into the clutches of Las Plagas by remaking the cult installation in the Resident Evil series, RE: 4.

Since gamers are enjoying various remakes, such as Dead Space and the Last of Us, filling Leon’s shoes seems like a no-brainer. But what kind of job did Capcom do, and did they do justice to the best game in the Resident Evil franchise? Let’s take a look!

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Illustration: MilicaM

I’m a survivor 

Resident Evil 4 takes place six years after the events that occurred in Resident Evil 2 and 3, but borrows the charismatic cop Leon S. Kennedy as its main star. Unlike RE: 2, where Leon was a naive, rooky cop, now he possesses a greater skillset and is employed by the US government. Leon is sent to a rural village in Spain in order to save the President’s daughter. As soon as Leon arrives, the events that transpire pit him against belligerent villagers infected by a parasite called Las Plagas.  

Unlike its predecessors, Resident Evil 4 plays as a triple-A Hollywood action movie filled with adrenaline-inducing combat sequences and, at times, difficult boss fights. But don’t despair. The game still has enough spooky elements to keep you on your toes, yet it places greater focus on combat. Also, for the fans of the original, you can breathe a sigh of relief as most of the lines and cheezy quips that gave the original its charm are still present in the game. 

Soaking it all in 

The opening sequence in the village serves two functions, first is to set the stage on how action-packed the game is, and second to demonstrate the visual and control updates Capcom made. The entire sequence of gunning down seemingly crazy villagers seems scarier than in the original. The movement of enemies seems more erratic, and with the camera being placed a bit higher behind Leon’s back compared to the original, you get to soak in more details as you sludge through the mud in the village.  

The enemy design has been upgraded as well, though not much has changed in their original appearance; small details and “tighter” graphics make almost every enemy look much more unsettling than in the original.  

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Leon fighting off a local drunkard. Source: Resident Evil

The knife is mightier than a sword 

Combat has much more nuance in the remake, thanks to Leon’s trusty knife. Thanks to the knife, the stealth elements of the game have been upgraded. In the original, stealth came down to picking off enemies from a distance using a sniper rifle, for example, whereas in the remake, stealth actually became stealth. Leon can crouch and make his way behind enemies to deliver a killing blow with the knife for a stealth kill.  

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Sneaky, sneaky. Source: Resident Evil 

This new knife and sneak mechanics open up a few options when it comes to covering some areas of the game. For example, in the village surrounding, you can sneak around, pick up ammo before starting the fight and even take out some targets. But wait, there’s more! The knife can now deflect enemy attacks, making Leon avoid all damage, but you’ll have to time it right, which is not an easy feat. The knife has a health bar, so you won’t be able to use it constantly. Worry not though the trusty merchant will allow you to fix and upgrade your knife.    

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Bringing a knife to a chainsaw fight. Source: Resident Evil

Old friends 

Ashley, the President’s daughter, is, of course, still here, but she also received some improvements. Primarily, she is no longer useless as she was in the original. When it comes to opening certain areas or reaching difficult spots, Ashley will be there to help, and no, you won’t have to catch her when she tries climbing down; she has now learned to use ladders without your help.  

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Ashley doing some exploring on her own. Source: Resident Evil

During the sequences, when you have to traverse the castle with Ashley, she is no longer as helpless as in the original. She can still be picked up and carried away by the enemies, but a well-placed shot or kick will return Ashley to you. This time around, she has no health bar, so your herbs and healing items are safe with you. Once down, all you have to do is approach Ashley and help her up.  

The graphics 

The graphics in Resident Evil Remake are a crucial part of the game’s output. They play an important role in creating tension, fear, and excitement for players as they navigate through explosive battles and frustrating challenges. 

The graphics work to create a sense of horror and danger, with infected enemies constantly attacking from every angle. The attention to detail in each character’s movements and attacks adds to the realism of combat, making it feel like a real fight for survival. 

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Demanding Leon. Source: Resident Evil

Along with the revamp in graphics, arrived a revamped set of controls that make Leon’s movements much more fluid. This fluidity does not negatively impact the challenge the game poses. For players new to action games, RE: 4 Remake, could be deemed a challenging game, especially if you’re trying to focus on knife parries to save your ammo. But overall, the new controls make the game more enjoyable and fluid.  

It’s not all about the graphics 

While the Remake looks arguably much better than any of the Resident Evil games so far, its audio presentation is equally impressive. It helps cultivate a sense of dread and horror, especially if you stop and listen to the manic chanting of the Las Plagas villagers. Hearing a chainsaw motor idling in the distance is a scary moment since you know what’s coming, helping players stay on the edge of their seats in expectation of what’s to come. Once the carnage of a fight starts, explosions, gunshots, and roundhouse kicks have specific sound profiles that enhance the adrenaline-inducing battle.  

Resident Evil 4 has been enhanced in almost every aspect of the gameplay. The quick time sequences of running from a boulder have been removed, which is not a bad thing. Also, the knife battle versus Krauser now features parries and counters and not just quick time sequence button guessing. Alongside these improvements, Capcom focused on implementing structural changes to make the entire area more cohesive. Unlike in the original, you will be able to explore the lake area, if you so wish.  

Finishing with a bang 

Capcom has done the “impossible” with the remake of the cult Resident Evil 4. The focus on battle emphasizes the “survival” element in the game, with smarter enemies that move better compared to the original to create a challenging run through the game. 

Whether you played the original or not, playing the remake should be a no-brainer for anyone that is looking for an adrenaline-inducing, action-packed game. The improvements Capcom has made over the original are simply too many to name, but the gist is that the Resident Evil world is richer, more detailed, more dreadful, and overall more fun than the original. If you liked Resident Evil 4, you will love the remake.    

Rating scale for games, Graphics 9.8, Sound 9.9, Technical 9.7, Gameplay 9.7, Overall 9.8

Dino Kurbegović is a project coordinator and an investor and technology enthusiast with years of experience in managing complex projects. His journey into content writing began in 2014, covering finance, investing, crypto, technology and complex technical topics.