Resident Evil 4 Remake Is the Iconic Horror Series' Best Remake Yet
Inverse Score: 9/10
I carefully inched my way from house to house, filled with a familiar dread from long ago. Thankfully, I came prepared with a shotgun, plenty of handgun ammo, and enough herbs to (probably) keep me safe.
And all at once, he was upon me. Dr. Salvador swung his rusty chainsaw like a man possessed, hoping to mulch my limbs with each wild swipe. Just then, I nimbly parried to knock his chainsaw out of the way with my knife, leaving Dr. Salvador open for one final spin kick, ending the fight in the most Resident Evil way possible.
The Resident Evil 4 remake improves upon nearly every point of frustration from the 2005 original, leaving me pleasantly surprised time and time again. The original game is widely beloved, but hasn’t aged especially well. This remake is the best way to play the most popular and influential game in Capcom’s long-running survival horror series.
No Holds Barred
In Resident Evil 4, you play as returning hero Leon Kennedy, who’s tasked with rescuing the president’s daughter, Ashley, from an evil cult in a Spanish village. But this game doesn’t include zombies, but villagers infected with a parasite known as Las Plagas. It’s a departure from the first three games that expands the world of the series beyond Raccoon City in a satisfying way.
The remake’s vastly streamlined and intuitive controls are a massive improvement over the original. In 2005, Resident Evil 4 was a major step up from its predecessors in terms of how it controlled, introducing the third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective that’s become commonplace in action games. But restrictive controls made it difficult to feel like a badass. With the remake, that’s no longer an issue.
Now, you can walk while shooting, and have 360-degree control of the camera, giving you more awareness of your surroundings, which makes a world of difference in the heat of battle. (It’s hard to believe just how outdated the series’ original tank-style controls feel in 2023.)
Capcom has also added more variety and intensity to the combat. You’ll often have to deal with hordes of enemies that can only be taken down in specific ways. But because the game is easier to control, these once-frustrating horde battles offer enough challenge to feel satisfying. This time around, Resident Evil 4 lets you approach battles in a variety of ways — without fighting with the game’s controls.
Curing the Infection
Like the previous Resident Evil remakes, the visuals in RE4 are breathtaking and grotesque. We won’t spoil them here, but suffice to say that many enemies will probably give you nightmares, even if you’re deeply familiar with the original.
Other tweaks enhance the experience in more subtle ways, such as the ability to press one button to automatically arrange your attaché case without having to manually move items. Improved sound design gives you a better sense of where enemies are, and what they’re doing, allowing you to be prepared beforehand. Better still, everything just feels faster, like picking up items, navigating menus, and swapping weapons (thanks to the shortcut feature).
Likewise, the knife parry mechanic is refreshing, rewarding players who have fast reflexes. You’re no longer helpless if an enemy gets too close for comfort. When timed correctly, you can knock enemy attacks out of the way, leaving them vulnerable for a follow-up strike. It’s a welcome feature that makes the game feel more balanced overall.
Despite these many improvements, there are a few moments that don’t feel as streamlined, particularly during boss battles. For instance, one specific boss can take you down in one hit, even if you have full health. This is frustrating since it causes you to have to redo a large portion of the fight, even if you’ve played perfectly up to that point.
Still, these moments are rare enough that they don’t detract from the overall experience.
Play How You Want
The Resident Evil 4 remake is impressively varied, with intense, action-packed boss battles, open areas that focus more on exploration, and even lighthearted moments with your sidekick Ashley. This also forces you to stay on your toes at all times. Will the building ahead be home to a tricky puzzle, a box of treasure, or a gruesome enemy? You better be prepared for anything.
While the remake mirrors the original by emphasizing action over puzzle-solving, it does have some downright horrifying moments, especially during close-quarters situations. You truly have to time your shots, pick your battles, and use your supplies in specific ways to ensure you make it out alive.
This might sound daunting for newcomers, but thankfully Resident Evil 4 includes Assisted Mode, which simplifies aiming and makes healing resources and ammo more abundant. But if you’re a masochist, you might want to try the game’s harder Professional Mode difficulty. This does not allow you to autosave, meaning you can only record progress at typewriters, just like the old-school version. Offering such a wide array of difficulty modes means more players will get to experience and enjoy this impressive game, and Capcom deserves credit for making it so approachable.
Resident Evil 4 mixes high-octane action, thrills, scares, and cinematic moments that exemplify what this series does best. If you never played the 2005 original — or any Resident Evil game at all — this is a great place to start.
Resident Evil 4 will launch for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Inverse reviewed the game on PS5.
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