Resident Evil 4 Remake (PS5) Review

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resident evil 4 remake ps5 review 23031603
Resident Evil 4 Remake
Editors Choice

I was excited to take on Resident Evil 4 Remake because the original is my most-played game of all time. By my count, I’ve played through it seven times across four different consoles since I first put it into my PS2 in 2005. It’s not even one of my personal favourite games, but there is perhaps no other game in the world that is as comforting to play for me as Resident Evil 4.

I know its secrets, which weapons suit me the best, and how to make the escort chapters as painless as possible. I most recently played it in 2021, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it still feels just as great to play over 15 years after its original release.

With that context in mind, Resident Evil 4 Remake keeps the core of what made Resident Evil 4 great intact while still evolving and adjusting the world, combat, and setpieces to create a game that feels new and fresh. Changes, large and small, combine in surprising ways, throwing me out of my comfort zone despite my attempts to rely on my previous knowledge. It’s not an entirely faithful remake in terms of content, but it is absolutely a faithful remake in terms of tone and feel. 

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The core setup in Resident Evil 4 Remake remains the same. Special Agent Leon S. Kennedy is sent on a mission to rescue Ashley Graham, the daughter of the US President, who has been kidnapped by a cult and transported to a remote Spanish village. The inhabitants of the region have been infected with the Plagas parasite, turning them into intelligent puppets as opposed to the mindless zombies of earlier Resident Evil games. The ensuing events feature Leon cutting through hundreds upon hundreds of infected humans, creatures, and science experiments while trying to keep Ashley safe.

Resident Evil 4 Remake keeps the core of what made Resident Evil 4 great intact while still evolving…”

From the get-go, the tone of Resident Evil 4 Remake sets itself apart from its origins. It’s clear that Leon has been horrifically affected by the events of Resident Evil 2, whereas the original glosses over the terror Leon experienced in Raccoon City. There’s a bitterness in the way Leon talks, and Nick Apostilodes does an amazing job turning him into more than just a wise-cracking secret agent.

Beyond the script, the design of the world itself makes the atmosphere more tense; the foliage darkens the ground as trees creep in on you, paths feel noticeably tighter and more claustrophobic, and the lighting makes the shadows and darkness feel oppressive. Yet this is not a truly terrifying game. It’s scary at times, to be sure, but the original Resident Evil 4 wasn’t a particularly scary game either. The atmosphere was tense, and there were plenty of moments when I was afraid to go forward. But the increase in tension is in service of an increase to another element of the remake: action.

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Resident Evil 4 Remake places a much greater emphasis on action, to the point where it often feels like action horror instead of straight survival horror. Due to the changed level layout and reorganized setpieces, the game is far more frenetic than the original. It feels as though there are more enemies, even if the change made was something as simple as repositioning where someone was located. It constantly kept me on my toes, and I found myself continually searching for ways to get whatever edge I could.

Those edges take the form of two major mechanical changes: the ability to craft ammunition and items, which ensures that you will almost always have a supply of bullets, and the ability to parry with your knife. And you can parry nearly everything with it — hatchets, sickles, even a chainsaw if you’re brave enough to stand your ground.

It’s a great addition that gives you an additional defensive tool besides running away and shooting an enemy point-blank. It also adds a wrinkle in the form of durability, requiring you to repair your knife regularly at the Merchant. The abundance of disposable knives you can find in the wild alleviates it somewhat, but I can’t help but get annoyed every time I have to shell out money to repair my primary one.

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That concern fades quickly, however, thanks to just how good it feels to control Leon. Resident Evil 4 holds up well, but the remake’s slight changes do just enough to make it noticeable just how mobile he is now. Leon moves and turns just a little bit faster than he did before, and aiming feels more responsive.

“…a faithful remake in terms of tone and feel.”

The ability to crouch and stealthily kill enemies is a wonderful tool that does not trivialize encounters but does provide additional options. And parrying is intuitive and doesn’t require much effort to learn.  Even escorting Ashley has become a far more interesting and less frustrating experience than it was in the original, as you can now set a distance for her to follow you at. What’s more, she will get out of your way while aiming, making it much harder for her to block your shot.

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Then there are adjustments that have been peppered throughout the game. The Merchant is now more talkative than he was before, with more lines of dialogue that continue to show that he is a mysterious, creepy bastard. There are proper side quests now, some of which are evolutions of existing elements, such as shooting down blue medallions, which give you special currency to spend on unique upgrades. The dialogue retains much of the campiness that made the original so weird, yet it’s better balanced so that it doesn’t stand out in stark contrast to the events onscreen. It’s Resident Evil 4, just different.

That’s what I keep circling back to when I think about the remake; it’s just a different Resident Evil 4. It retains what makes the game great, enhances some, but not all, aspects, and does so without running into any technical issues. It’s gorgeous to look at, the combat is fantastic, and the story is told efficiently and with flair. For those who loved playing the original, Resident Evil 4 Remake is a fantastic reexamination of one of the best games ever made. For those who are experiencing it for the first time, it’s an excellent survival horror game that’ll make you want to play more.

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE
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