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Resident Evil 4 Remake review: I’ll buy it at a high price

The Resident Evil 4 Remake is finally here, and it is incredible, as we explain in this full review
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Resident Evil 4 is dense in every sense of the word and remains that way from the first moment to the last. The first steps you take into this rural European village crack against the sticks on the ground, crows caw in the distance, the wind howls, and Leon’s feet feel heavy, with each step leaving its mark. The trees overhead crowd over you like a roof, evoking a feeling of claustrophobia even while outside during the daytime. This is not what it was like to play the original game, this is an entirely new beast.

While the original Resident Evil 4 eschewed most of its horror inspirations for a backpack full of grenades and an MMA crash course, the new Resident Evil 4 Remake does its best to add a blend of both. The environments are far more detailed, and often darker than ever before, with punishments for not evading an enemy’s strikes more fatal than ever.

Resident Evil 4 Environment 02

A crouch walk has been added to incentivize stealth, but it’s often a ploy to lull you into a false sense of security – if you try to stealth kill a Ganado, make sure there isn’t yet another one hiding around the corner. Every inch of the world is tinged with a sense of familiarity, but it’s clearly different – like coming home and finding the old fields are covered in new houses and an Amazon warehouse – and those innumerable differences are what breathes new life into Resident Evil 4.

It’s still the classic game in many ways. You play as Leon S. Kennedy, Raccoon City survivor, former police officer, and currently working as a United States agent, tasked with saving the President’s daughter after she is kidnapped. The Los Illuminados, meanwhile, are a cult-like religion powered by a mind-controlling parasite, and they want control of Ashley. Key locations and enemies will manage to evoke nostalgia in those hardcore fans of the original game, but if you get complacent, you will be punished for it.

There are new enemies, like the fearsome bull-head beast seen in trailers, and old enemies even have new abilities to make your life hell. Ganados are smarter too, and when you’re grabbed by one, it often makes another come over and cut you down. But it’s still the same old Resident Evil 4 in a bunch of ways too, so you know you can push back a big crowd with a shotgun, and pop weak points to follow up with melee strikes if you’ve been conserving ammo. You do know that, right?

RE4_Leon Escape

But the biggest addition to the combat system has to be the Parry. When being attacked by a foe, you can tap L1, and, if timed correctly, Leon will totally negate the incoming damage. Needless to say, this is a huge boon, and makes you feel intensely cool when successful. Perfect Parries can even lead to staggering an enemy, allowing you to follow up with a melee strike. Perfect Parries also have the effect of leading you to save gameplay clips.

It’s a classic combat system given new life, with all of the fluidity of the Resident Evil 4 Remake, and the suplexes of the original Resident Evil 4. As a major fan of the game, let me tell you this: the spirit of the original is here, and this remake, broadly, succeeds. Almost everything you remember from the original is here, just changed and tweaked for a more coherent and neatly wrapped story.

That’s epitomized by Leon himself, and his oh-so-cool remarks that sometimes go down badly. He tells Ashley that she’s good at running away from creeps, and she replies with: “I can’t tell if that’s meant to be a compliment,” ending the conversation on an awkward note. Leon’s as bad with women as ever, despite having the last six years turn him into a hybrid of a Marine and Bruce Lee. But Ashley warms to Leon over the course of the game, congratulating good shots and even says “my hero” as Leon catches her from a drop. If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I don’t know what will.


Their relationship develops far more naturally, and the story – and action – as a whole feels right as it ramps up to absurdist levels. The level design is altered in many places too. The original game was mostly made up of linear corridors, with the rare opportunity to explore. The remake now takes the room and halls that you know and remixes them. It might take a series of linear combat chambers from the original, and reorder them so that it instead becomes a series of rooms to collect keys in, before opening a main door. It’s a small, subtle change, but does a lot to make Resident Evil 4 feel more like those early Resident Evil games.

There are far more treasures and items to find than before. Once you get a treasure map from the merchant, you’ll have all of an area’s treasures plastered on your map, and many of them will require returning to areas, sometimes several chapters after you originally went through them. You’ll likely need the map to keep track of everything, but digging deep into the world of Resident Evil 4 and finding everything there is feels incredibly rewarding, like you’re a soldier pretending to be Indiana Jones.

At its core, it’s still the same satisfying loop. You shoot down monsters, pick up ammo and money to upgrade your weapons further, and repeat, all carried along by some fantastic level and combat design, while a goofy but genuine story plays out. The original Resident Evil 4 felt like a ‘90s action movie hero got thrown into a cheap ‘80s horror flick, while the remake feels like a big-budget horror where the protagonist has the skills, but not the suave, to pretend to be an action hero. It’s an important difference, but while this Leon might have spent six years studying the blade, he definitely didn’t spend any of that time talking to girls. Or anyone, apparently.

RE4_Ganado Brute

But it’s the surprises and shocks that’ll keep you playing. Each chapter has something new to find or fight against, some new threat or foe looming over your head, and taking down all of them is massively satisfying. Finishing Resident Evil 4 Remake was a great experience, and the mark of a truly great game is that I immediately started playing New Game+, and have since completed a run there too.

Resident Evil 4 Remake is the legendary game given more than just a new coat of paint. The visuals and sound design are brutally oppressive, the combat is sharper than a knife’s edge, and the world will make you want to uncover every corner. It’s as enticing as it is engaging, and intense as it is exciting. Resident Evil 4 is back, and it’s better than ever.

Score: 10/10

Version tested: PS5