Review — Resident Evil 4 (2023)

Zombies. Zombies never change.

Overview

Developer Capcom
Publisher Capcom
Genre Horror / Survival
Platforms PS4, PS5 (reviewed), Xbox Series X/S, PC
Release Date March 24, 2023

Well, here we are again. Resident Evil 4 is back once more. Capcom has managed to keep it relevant and consistently in front of people for almost twenty years now. Most companies give up marketing and porting even their popular games long before then. Final Fantasy VII and Grand Theft Auto V are two exceptions that come to mind. Of course, Capcom has been doing this since the early days of Mega Man and Street Fighter.

Before this, I had played the beginning on the Xbox 360 over a decade ago. I didn’t play for long, so anything after the beginning was a completely new experience. As a newcomer completely divorced from nostalgia, my perspective will be different from that of longtime fans.

Casually observing a murder.

Content Guide

Violence: There is almost constant gory violence, with all that implies. Additionally, many of the enemies are gruesome to behold, with blood and spikes as prominent features. Characters are stabbed, shot, and blown up, all with unhealthy amounts of blood spraying out and limbs flying off.

Spiritual Content: A dominant element of the story is a cult that includes human sacrifice in their rituals. The head of the cult is considered a prophet, and the people consider the plague infesting the country to be a divine blessing. As cults tend to do, the “prophet” talks a lot about his corrupt understanding of God and what is holy.

Never bring a shotgun to a pitchfork fight. Wait…

Language: All of the typical language one should expect from an M-Rated game is present throughout the game, including but not limited to, f***, s***, d***, and h*ll.

Alcohol/Smoking: Some character consume alcohol as well as smoke.

Resident Evil and castles go together like chocolate and peanut butter.

Review

The story follows Leon Kennedy, who I would wager is one of the most well-known protagonists in gaming. He is sent to Spain to rescue the United States President’s daughter, Ashley. It takes about 2 milliseconds for things to go south. From there, Leon faces off against nutty, parasite-infested cultists and all manner of eldritch abominations.

I wouldn’t say the first two-thirds of the game are scary, per se. Certainly they’re nowhere near as horrifying as the doll house section of Village. But many things you come across are grotesque and disturbing, and that’s enough for me. That said, it does get scarier in the later sections, which I appreciate.

There are several different control schemes to try out, including one specifically for players most familiar with the original. I preferred one of the modern settings, but I appreciate them keeping older fans in mind. I wish more remakes would take such considerations.

That’s okay, I didn’t need to sleep tonight, anyway.

The soundtrack is decent, but forgettable. However, what the game lacks in audio presentation, it makes up for in visual. The environments are stunning. It’s clear that this is a ground-up remake rather than just a spit polish on the graphics. When you’re not being chased by abominations from the underworld, the scenery is quite beautiful. It’s worth it to slow down when you can and enjoy the sights.

One of the aspects of Resident Evil in general that I enjoy the most is item organization. It’s oddly satisfying to fit everything just right in the case. Plus, as you progress, larger cases go up for sale by the otherworldly merchant.

Looks like he smudged the white hand of Saruman

There are several moments which are awkwardly funny. It works because it doesn’t fit the game’s atmosphere. It sounds forced and clunky, like two people trying to use humor to cope with the constant trauma they’re experiencing. It’s bad in a good way.

To a certain extent, I can see why the game is such a classic. Admittedly, this is only my third Resident Evil game, behind Biohazard and Village. But even still, the series has a distinct feel that separates it from other horror games. And this one very much feels like a Resident Evil game. Even still, it’s not a perfect game.

The characters were hit and miss for me. Though far from my favorite, I thought Leon was a good protagonist. Luis and Ada were also intriguing, and I enjoyed their respective scenes. Ashley, on the other hand, was annoying more often than not. The various antagonists were overall mostly forgettable, too.

I love a good, unpredictable character.

Now it’s time for my more negative criticisms. To be honest, a lot of this game drove me nuts. By no means is it a bad game, don’t get me wrong. But the more I played, the more I became convinced it’s mostly for the longtime fans, and the enthusiasts who may not have had the chance experience past versions. For a casual horror game fan like myself, your mileage may vary.

There were several points I just found the game to be tedious. Constantly, I found myself up against waves of enemies, and all I could use to defend myself was a pistol, and an occasional melee attack. To be fair, even that is exponentially better than not being able to defend yourself at all, as most horror games I’ve reviewed tend to be. (Looking at you, Maid of Sker.) But the pistol and breakable knife aren’t the only weapons in the game, yet I was still relegated to those two and my boot.

“No, you didn’t get me. It’s a chainsaw. You get me, you kill me!”

I had several different exciting guns in my arsenal, and they spent a lot of time collecting dust. I never had enough ammo to really have fun with them, and enemy drops typically consisted of handgun rounds or small amounts of money. Even after using my supplies to craft ammo for the bigger guns, it never ended up being enough to matter much. And when trapped by half a dozen enemies, all I wanted was to mow them down. Instead, all I could do was rely on the same formula of shoot-to-stun, kick, repeat until every zombie is dead.

There is one more complaint that I had: absurd enemies. One thing I can’t stand when any game does, which is especially prevalent in horror games, is having a basically invincible enemy chasing after you while you try to do a million other things. Even if the game lets you kill the monsters later, it still makes you suffer for the first few encounters. It makes matters worse when they throw multiple at you at once, and then more every so often throughout the rest of the game.

One ugly…you know the line.

As much as the game frustrated me, I can’t deny that it continuously drew me back. The atmosphere is exactly what I like in horror games, and the enemies are fantastically disgusting. The game committed several sins that irk me as a player, but even still, there’s something special about it that I can’t quite figure out.

Conclusion

What more can I say? It’s Resident Evil 4 again, but better. Longtime fans should enjoy the remake and all of the quality of life improvements. Newcomers ought to give it a whirl and experience the classic for themselves.

As time goes on, I’m finding myself enjoying survival horror games less and less. Even still, I do occasionally get the itch to play one. And from now on, should I find myself in the mood, Resident Evil 4 will be my go-to before anything else.

The nostalgia hit hard when I found this.

The Bottom Line

 

This is Resident Evil 4 at its best.

 

8

David Koury

I'm a writer and aspiring fashion designer residing in the wasteland called Nevada. Also, I'm trying to juggle learning both Korean and Japanese.

4 Comments

  1. Star on April 24, 2024 at 12:11 am

    The game is on easy mode once you get all the infinite weapons lol. Or at least one of them.

  2. David R on April 23, 2024 at 8:20 pm

    Watching Horror movies and playing Horror games is not good for you.. dark things attract dark tyings. These things literally attract the demonic (speaking from personal experience), stay away. A Christian is supposed to set his/her mind on things above, things that are good, pure etc.. i.e. not get engrossed in evil things.

    • Sam on May 2, 2024 at 5:55 pm

      Watching horror movies and playing horror games led me to write horror short stories that glorify God. If you are a person who is easily influenced by what you see then by all means avoid the horror genre – as well as any other genre that may tempt you (comedy, drama, thriller, historical, etc). But assuming that *all* people are the same and will react in the same manner is not realistic.

  3. Brian Reedy on April 23, 2024 at 6:22 pm

    It gets better and better the more times you beat it, FYI

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