How do you remake Resident Evil 4, an experience that changed the way action games are made today? It is, at best, an unfair challenge and, at worst, an impossible task. So, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel a second time, developer Capcom has doubled down on the brilliance of the original’s design–elaborated on it, and finely tuned the experience. The result is a stunning remake that reminds longtime fans like me of its brilliance, while also introducing an all-new generation to a modern classic and one of the most important games of all time.
If you’re not familiar, the premise of Resident Evil 4 is straightforward: Leon S. Kennedy, the cool and handsome rookie-cop-turned-government-agent who you may remember from his escapades in Resident Evil 2’s Raccoon City, has been sent to rural Spain to track down Ashley Graham, the US President’s missing daughter. Yes, it’s a “save the princess” trope but, even 18 years later, its juxtaposition against the survival-horror genre serves as an immaculate setup for the game’s over-the-top set pieces. In this case, the princess is in another castle, but it’s a castle besieged by parasitic infections and mind-controlled cultists, so you’ll have to blast your way from a rundown village to a military island to get her back. While the core pillars of tense, up-close-and-personal action and careful resource management remain welcomingly unchanged, improvements to character development elevate the story as a whole. Now more than ever, Capcom is aware of the tone and humor of the game after it felt accidental in the original. This time, it feels like Capcom is leaning into it, striking a considered balance between heart-pounding horror and laugh-out-loud cheese.
This time, Leon isn’t just a cool-looking dude with swoopy hair and a sweet jacket, who says sometimes cool, sometimes corny things, and does super-cool stuff. He’s more than that: Now he’s a cool dude with cool hair doing cool stuff who also acts like a human being. This is a Leon who carries the trauma of the Raccoon City incident from Resident Evil 2 remake, which gives more weight to his character and serves as compelling context for his motivation to save Ashley Graham. This time around, it’s not just another assignment for Leon–it’s a chance at redemption for the lives he couldn’t save in Raccoon City. This narrative continuity is a strong thread that ties the remakes together with emotional heft, making this new era of the franchise feel stronger and more unified than the originals.
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