If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably already put hundreds of hours into the original Resident Evil 4 in its many iterations and incarnations. Originally released for the Gamecube in 2005, the original RE4 was widely considered a masterpiece and one of the most influential games of all time. It was a massive departure from the titles that came before it, leading the series into more action-driven territory and completely redefining what Resident Evil is. The game was subsequently released on nearly every platform known to mankind since then.
If there’s anything anyone can hold against the original RE4, it’s that many see it as too far of a departure from what made the original titles great. RE4 replaced the slow-burn survival-horror-puzzle-solving-mansion-navigating with intense and often over-the-top action-horror. Many see RE4 as the harbinger of the series’ flop era that defined nearly every title after it until 2017’s incredible Resident Evil 7 that would revitalized the franchise and lead to the remakes we have today.
With the 2023 Resident Evil 4 remake, Capcom has decidedly inched RE4 back toward the direction of horror. Ironically, RE4 Remake successfully borrows a lot from the Resident Evil 2 remake we got in 2019 (which actually borrowed a lot from the original Resident Evil 4), from overall tone to basically the entire look and feel of the game.
While both RE2 and RE4 are remakes of their respective classics, RE4 somehow feels much closer to its original than RE2 did. Naturally, since the behind-the-shoulder third person camera is unchanged, but even the environments and the overall progression of the game are much closer to the old RE4 than I was expecting. Beat for beat, nearly everything from the 2005 classic is here. There are some minor things that have been cut, but mostly in the service of streamlining the game and making it feel like a more natural and realistic.
For instance, classic RE4 often felt like a series of sandbox encounters. You enter a room, the door slams, and you have to kill everything before you can proceed. In the new game, each area feels less like an arcade shooting gallery event and more like you just walked in on something you weren’t supposed to. The castle in particular has gotten a massive upgrade from being a kind of hokey and strange area to being a truly creepy place that feels like it belongs there.
Graphically, RE4 has gotten the ultimate glow-up 18 years later. The RE engine that Capcom has developed has truly delivered on its next-gen promise since it hit the scene a few years ago. I played the game on PS5, which had full ray-tracing support and even an optional hair simulation for Leon (instead of standard hair cards). Everything from character models, lighting, effects, are all absolutely top-notch and really add to the horror atmosphere.
Overall, RE4 remake starts at a baseline of being as good as the original 2005 classic, and simply improves upon it in every conceivable way. The gunplay and enemy encounters are just as tight and intense as they used to be, only now it looks profoundly more realistic with modern graphics. It is faithful to the original title while simply being incredible in its own right. My first play through took about 16 hours, which is comparable or a little bit longer than the original, and the game has plenty of replay value in the form of rankings and unlockables.