Notes on Resident Evil 4 (2023)

I recently picked up the remake of Resident Evil 4. The original is arguably one of the most important games in vidya history. It left quite an impression on me when I played it on the GameCube almost two decades ago. Capcom could have messed up this game in many ways but they did not. Below are a few brief notes, related to an in-progress playthrough. I am currently about 30 to 40% in. Thus I have seen the first of three major sections of the game.

– The game looks pretty good even on my substandard gaming laptop at a resolution of 1280×800 with most settings on low. I get roughly the performance of the Steam Deck, perhaps a little bit above. So far, I don’t think the frame rate ever dipped below 30.

– Gone is the slow, methodological playstyle of the original. The remake is a pretty hectic action game. This has been criticized by some, but I don’t think that remakes have to slavishly replicate the gameplay of the original. Granted, you can get bum-rushed by enemies and stun-locked, but so far I don’t think I have been in situations where I would solely blame the game. It simply forces you to play in a different way. I do not like that sometimes I can hear but not see enemies as it is not clear from where the sound effects are supposed to come from. In other games, directional sounds has been implemented better, allowing you to locate enemies due to the noise they make, even if you cannot see them.

– The map seems a lot more coherent. In the original, you feel as if you go from one scene to another whereas at the village section was remade into a consistent, interconnected area.

– One of my favorite online critics, Mark_MSX (YT: Electric Underground) mused that Capcom padded the game and probably had plans to pad it even more. This is based on there being a few moorings around the lake. Well, there is a big lake in the original and in the remake, those few (optional!) sites fit thematically as it is not plausible that there would be only one mooring, given that the area is teeming with zombies.

– One annoyance is that the knife can break. In the original, the knife was a very viable weapon but in the remake it absolutely is not. You likely will not be in a position where you need to depend on your knife as ammunition is plentiful. This may be different on “professional” difficulty.

– Ashley looks a lot better in motion than still imagines make you believe, but if you think she should be hotter, then there are plenty of mods available. There is also seemingly no wokeness in the game, albeit some of the best phrases of the original have been cut, such as Luis’ “ballistics” remark.

– Overall, the tone of the game is a lot more serious, in line with the other recent Resident Evil games. This is probably a matter of taste but I quite liked Leon’s quips in the original. There are still a few but I have not come across any zingers yet.

– Mark_MSX and other streamers complained about a lack of replayability. I am not sure I agree as the gameplay loop is quite satisfying. So far, nothing gives me any one-and-done vibes. Sure, a first play-through will probably take about 20 hours, but the same was true with the original. There is also the “Mercenaries” mode, which is probably good for another dozen hours or so.

Overall, Resident Evil 4 (2023) is pretty great. I can’t see any real flaws yet. If anything, I would have liked to see a mini map, but with greater familiarity of the areas this would be superfluous. Also, some of the puzzles area bit tedious. There are a few where you figure out quickly what you need to do but getting there is finicky. Again, I am sure that in a subsequent playthrough this would be much less of a problem. After a long time, this is once again a game I can warmly recommend!

8 thoughts on “Notes on Resident Evil 4 (2023)

  1. I like the game a lot overall, but I’d be surprised if you don’t come to the same conclusion that the game decreases in quality from the castle section onward (minus the Krauser fight!). It’s a consistent decline from start to finish whereas the castle in the original was my favorite section, followed by the village and finally the island. So, the remake ends up giving off this feeling that it just drags on too long imo. Also, on subsequent play throughs I’ve really come to abhor the Del Lago fight.

    The knife in pro mode requires a perfectly timed parry to even execute, btw. I haven’t even bothered with that mode.

  2. “Granted, you can get bum-rushed by enemies and stun-locked, but so far I don’t think I have been in situations where I would solely blame the game.”

    I just remembered that this is a massive occurrence in hardcore mode. I watched entire video dedicated to how unbalanced hardcore and professional mode are, and I think Synthetic Man even touches on this a bit essentially wishing that he hadn’t been baited into opting for hardcore mode by the developers. Playing the game in standard mode would have been a much more enjoyable first play through for me as well. I wish I didn’t do hardcore because it added like 8-10 (frustrating) hours of extra gameplay to the experience.

    1. After my experience of playing Resident Evil 2 (remake), I thought that Capcom is rather fond of punishing difficulty settings. Thus, I did not get baited into picking anything other than “assisted” for my RE4 playthrough. Back in the SNES days, I used to systematically approach games, i.e. first try to finish them on the easiest settings, then aiming for a one-life clear, i.e. not losing any lives, followed by playing on the next higher difficulty setting, etc. REmake 4 has the typical Resident Evil results screen, so if I decide to play it again, my first goal will be to reach better grades and only move up to the next difficulty after having gotten an “S+”.

    2. The great thing about New Game + in the remake is that it will allow you to choose any difficulty you want instead of locking you into the previously cleared difficulty, such as with the original version of RE4.

  3. “One annoyance is that the knife can break. In the original, the knife was a very viable weapon but in the remake it absolutely is not.”

    If you find and destroy all the aristocratic windup dolls you can unlock an infinite knife, though you’ll need a guide for at least a couple of them.

    Giving the knife “ammo” is a balancing feat, I believe.

    1. You may find this surprising to hear, but I got tired of this game as the hectic gameplay in combination with the imprecise reticle is not doing it for me.

      Yesterday, I dedicated some time to Nier: Automata and was similarly let down. In brief:
      – The game seems to follow the Platinum shtick of opening strongly, followed by some insipid gameplay afterwards. I got unpleasant flashbacks of Astral Chain.
      – Imprecise hitboxes, making the first boss fight a bit of a chore.
      – Horrible music. There is a track that plays way too often, sung in some made-up language, it seems. I found it grating.
      – Fetch quests.
      – I was also really annoyed that your character starts with some kind of “auto-use” chip for healing potions. However, without informing you, this chip gets removed after the intro sequence. I found this design decision baffling.
      – Invisible walls.

      On the plus side, 2B is really hot, but this is not enough to make me stick to the game. Also, there may be some fast travel later on, but from the less than two hours that I played it, there was a lot of empty space I had to traverse.

      At this rate, I am going to drop gaming. On a more serious note, I don’t think I will but I find it a bit concerning how few games there are that I want to keep playing. That being said, I had a very good first impression of Sekiro, so this one is still on my list.

    2. Nier Automata also has one of the most empty and uninspiring open worlds of any open world game I’ve played. There’s a lot of weird anime-esque shit that happens later on, like some naked male androids with Ken doll appearances being spawned by a robot orgy.

      No, I’m not surprised by your RE4 experience. Even my shmup buddy who was playing it on standard difficulty was complaining that the game just drags on too long and he was getting sick of the combat loop. I think it’s also entirely possible that the novelty of single player adventure gaming etc. has just worn off with age. I feel like there has to come a point to where I personally have had my fill and can no longer allow myself to be distracted by the latest remake or sequel in a series. Once you’ve played a fair amount and decent variety of games you also start to see that new games have nothing truly innovative or inspiring to showcase. They’re all just building off of what has come before and borrowing from other games here and there. TotK is only a slight exception. The build mechanics seem heavily inspired from a Banjo Kazooie game, however, and the fuse (which becomes glaringly more flawed when you have a large inventory) and ceiling phase mechanics are the only truly innovative aspects of the game as far as I can tell.

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