Resident Evil 4 Remake Review: A Masterclass in Survival Horror (PS5)

A remake of one of the most acclaimed and genre-defining classics, Resident Evil 4 Remake delivers on its promise. A gripping and disturbing story tied together with fluid gameplay mechanics and set in a polished world. This modernization is a new gold standard in video game remakes.

Resident Evil 4 Remake Review: A Masterclass in Survival Horror (PS5)

The long-awaited and highly anticipated remake of the 2005 classic Resident Evil 4 is finally available. The thirteenth installment of the defining survival horror franchise quickly gained notoriety at its initial release eighteen years ago. Quickly, it became the new gold standard of survival horror games. During the Sony State of Play on June 3, 2022, it was officially announced, along with a teaser trailer, that Capcom would continue remaking the mainline Resident Evil games with the fourth numbered installation.

Resident Evil 4 Remake is, in all ways, a masterpiece of survival horror video games. Often when a game attempts so many different facets, it becomes clear that it does not know what it aims to be. Such is not the case for Resident Evil 4 Remake. With layered story progression, fine-tuned combat mechanics, satisfying puzzles, and technical craftsmanship the game has only become better as a remake. This is truly a jack of all trades and a master of them all.

Resident Evil 4 Remake is now available on PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PC for $59.99.

This review contains minor spoilers for Resident Evil 4 Remake.

Resident Evil 4 Remake - Reveal Trailer | PlayStation State of Play 2022

Story- Of Monsters And Men

Following Leon Kennedy 6 years after the events of Resident Evil 3, he has been recruited by the U.S. government as a special agent. After the president’s daughter, Ashley Graham, is kidnapped and traced to a small European village, Leon is sent to extract her. What starts off as a grounded story of political espionage turns on its head as the villagers begin acting more than a bit off. The villagers are being controlled by a parasite, Las Plagas, and have taken to calling themselves the Los Illuminados cult. Leon is forced to fight his way through the village and all of the secrets that it holds in hopes of saving Ashley.

Every chapter of the story builds off of the previous one, with the stakes steadily getting higher and higher. Every creature’s presence makes sense within the logic of the Resident Evil universe, with nothing randomly thrown at the player for shock value. The deeper Leon is forced to dig, the more he learns of a nefarious plot. Gradually, the rescue of Ashley is less of a single-person extraction and more of a mission to save the world.

Introduction of the Plaza mandibula.

Introduction of the Plaza mandibula.

Though it seems like a lot on paper, Resident Evil 4 Remake expertly layers story elements to grow, with pace, from one chapter to the next. A search and rescue leads to a cult which in turn expands to bigger and bigger threats with every save point. Sprinkled throughout are smaller, often subtle moments, that remind the player that these characters are, for the most part, still human. The final interaction between Leon and Major Jack Krauser can easily be missed, but when digested expresses a surprising level of emotional growth. One word makes the difference when pulling on the player’s heartstrings.

Gameplay- A Loop Worth Treading

The gameplay of most Resident Evil games focuses on three main factors: combat, puzzles, and scarcity. Those who have played the original Resident Evil 4 will notice some obvious upgrades and modernization to the combat. Most notable is the inclusion of a parry system. Aside from that, there are a variety of different weapons to choose from. Each can be upgraded to fit an individual’s preferred play style. Occasionally, general enemy encounters may feel redundant, but there are always multiple ways to approach any encounter. It is less about selecting the right weapon for the task at hand and using what is the most fun to play with. Except when it comes to the regeneradors.

A Puzzling Endeavor

Puzzles are spread across the world, acting as roadblocks from one stage to the next. Resident Evil 4 Remake balances the puzzles in a way that is challenging but never needlessly frustrating. Though it may not be what is expected, the answer is always hinted at somewhere in the environment. It is not just to avoid catching the enemies’ attention that the player needs to stay constantly aware of their surroundings. Admiring the art may be what allows Leon to put the monstrosity to sleep after all.

Conflict rises with Ashley.

Conflict rises with Ashley.

A mainstay of any Resident Evil game, and now survival horror as a whole, is the scarcity of resources. At no point is there ever a level of confidence or arrogance. Leon is not able to run around and shoot just for the sake of shooting. After a few hits, it is important to gauge if Leon can take at least one more. Saving use of a med spray just to get the most out of it is a thought that will come up. There are enough bullets and medicinal herbs spread around. But just enough. All resources need to be managed, and the limited space in the items case needs to be monitored at all times. All of this adds to the constant sense of tension and foreboding around every corner.

Audio And Graphics – Beautifully Vile

From the title screen, it is clear that Resident Evil 4 Remake has been built from the ground up for modern gaming. Every inch of the world is rendered with nearly flawless textures. There was barely any noticeable stuttering as textures loaded almost instantaneously. From sprawling mountainscapes to the fur of a fat rat skittering across the dingy pavement flowed in and out smoothly. Throughout an entire playthrough, there were only two or three graphical hiccups. Aside from the technical perspective, the world is rich and lavish. From tight corridors to expansive boss zones. Moving from the drab village to the vibrant colors of the castle. Everything has an outstanding level of polish.

An Eerie Sound

The world sounds nearly as beautiful as it looks. All of the music is expertly placed to drive the tension and pace of the scene. The wind whistles through the trees and snakes hiss as they slither between Leon’s feet. Guttural groans retch from monsters down the hall. The only recurring issue was the directionality of the audio. Occasionally the shouts of a cult member would register as coming from the opposite direction of their attack. Once or twice the chime of a treasure came from across the room from its location.

Leon walks into the village for the first time.

Leon walks into the village for the first time.

All in all, the issues with Resident Evil 4 Remake are few and far between. There is so much going for the game that these small problems feel insignificant and negligible. The remake takes what was already regarded as one of the best video games made and uses modern technological capabilities to only enhance the overall experience. It tells a gripping story littered with inspired monsters and remarkably human moments. All of this plays out through rich environments, satisfying gameplay loops, and expert design. Resident Evil 4 Remake offers more than enough for an honestly memorable gaming experience. The strange, and often goofy, unlockables with surely beckon additional playthroughs.

Resident Evil 4 Remake was reviewed on PS5.

Resident Evil 4 Remake is a masterclass in modernizing a tried and true classic game. Though not without faults, they are so few as to be insignificant to the overall experience. Every aspect of the game has been rebuilt in order to make the time spent as Leon Kennedy an utter joy. With a riveting story, rewarding gameplay, and gorgeous design, it is a masterpiece in every sense.
  • Gripping story
  • Polished graphics
  • Fine-tuned combat
  • Enjoyable puzzles
  • Excellent soundtrack
  • Occasional audio issues
  • Rare graphical glitches

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