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!