Resident Evil 4 Remake review – Can Capcom classic possibly live up to original?

Resident Evil 4 Remake review

Resident Evil 4 Remake review (Image: Capcom)

The Resident Evil 4 Remake improves on an all-time classic by upgrading everything from the sound and visuals, to the outdated controls

What we love

  • Incredible sound and visuals
  • Much creepier than the original
  • Massively improved control scheme
  • Knife parrying works well
  • Additional side quests and mini-games are a fun distraction
  • Got to love organising your items
  • The Merchant is back!

What we don’t

  • Not as groundbreaking as the original
  • Spongy enemies
  • A few minor lighting issues
  • Could do with a proper dodge move

While I’ve always been more of a fan of the original Resident Evil (particularly the Gamecube remake), it’s fair to say that Resident Evil 4 provided a much needed shot in the arm for a franchise that was starting to grow a little stale. Not only did Capcom successfully reinvent the series, but Resident Evil 4 would go on to influence hordes of future survival horror and third-person shooter games. After recently (and rather successfully) bringing Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 kicking and screaming into the modern age, Capcom is back with another remake of a survival horror classic. But did Resident Evil 4 need to be remade? Can the updated version possibly live up to the original? And perhaps most importantly of all, does the Merchant still pop up in the most unusual of places? Read our Resident Evil 4 Remake review to find out…

Resident Evil 4 Remake review

Resident Evil 4 Remake review (Image: CAPCOM)

First up, I’m pleased to report that not only is The Merchant back and able to move his entire inventory across the map at record speeds, but this time he has more lines of dialogue than ever. Phew!

Indeed, taking the best bits from the original Resident Evil 4 and expanding on them is what this remake is all about.

It’s still Resident Evil 4 as you know it, only on a grander scale, and with greater amounts of depth.

For example, Leon can now parry incoming attacks with his trusty knife, or sneak up and silently kill unsuspecting enemies using the new stealth feature. You’ll still spend most of your time attempting headshots or kneecapping villagers, but the new parry and stealth systems give you a few more options.

Resident Evil 4 Remake review

Resident Evil 4 Remake review (Image: CAPCOM)

Elsewhere, reworked cutscenes make the game feel more cinematic, while many of the original locations make a return, albeit with altered and oftentimes expanded designs. In fact, one of the most thrilling aspects of the remake is how momentary pangs of nostagia quickly give way to panic when you realise those seemingly familiar locations aren’t quite as you remember them.

The wonderfully addictive item storage system also makes a return in the Resident Evil 4 Remake, but now you can attach charms to your case that provide Leon with various perks – like increased ammo discovery. The sheer number of unlockables, not to mention the addition of new side-quests and even the odd mini-game are more examples of Capcom taking a classic and fleshing it out.

While side-quests and mini-games are more of an added bonus, much more crucial to the success of the Resident Evil 4 Remake are the vastly upgraded visuals, the superb sound design and the much improved controls.

Resident Evil 4 Remake review

Resident Evil 4 Remake review (Image: CAPCOM)

I don’t remember the controls posing too much of a problem when Resident Evil 4 launched back in 2005, but having recently played the Nintendo Switch re-release ahead of this review, I had a hard time getting over how awkward and cumbersome it felt.

The same can’t be said for the Resident Evil 4 Remake, which completely revamps the controls, making them more palatable for modern audiences.

The remake features the same twin stick scheme found in most modern shooters (including the Resident Evil 2 and Resi 3 remakes), with one stick controlling character movement and the other used to freely move the camera. It makes for a much smoother, more intuitive experience compared to the original.

The flipside, of course, is that the Resident Evil 4 Remake isn’t as unique or groundbreaking as its 2005 counterpart. While the original felt unlike any other game at the time, the Remake feels like every other game in the present.

Resident Evil 4 Remake review

Resident Evil 4 Remake review (Image: CAPCOM)

Also, while the original game was something of a graphical powerhouse when it launched in 2005, fire it up now and everything looks a touch dull, drab and washed out. 

The Resident Evil 4 Remake features a richer, warmer colour scheme that breathes new life into those iconic environments. There are a few minor lighting issues when you move from darker areas into the light and vice-versa, but nothing too jarring. 

The detailed environments are further enhanced by some superb sound effects, whether it’s the murmurings of murderous villagers, or the thunderous sound of weapon fire. The PS5 Dualsense controller makes weapons feel even beefier thanks to the slightly resistant trigger buttons and haptic feedback.

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The only thing Capcom has scaled back on are the quick-time events, which no longer plague the experience. You’ll occasionally want to tap a button to escape from villagers, or to defend yourself with Leon’s knife, but that’s about it.

The Resident Evil 4 Remake vastly improves on the original game, delivering a refined experience that will appeal to modern gamers.

Fingers crossed the criminally underrated Resident Evil Code Veronica gets similar treatment next.

Resident Evil 4 Remake is out now on PS5, PS4, Xbox and PC.