Resident Evil 4 revels in its survival horror origins, wonderfully modernising an all-time classic

So, I guess it’s the year of the remake and the long-awaited rebirth of Survival Horror.

The magnificent Dead Space kicked us off. Metroid Prime Remastered took the ball and kept running. We’ve got Silent Hill 2 not too far off in the distance, and now Resident Evil 4. A game we’ve probably all played a dozen times across a variety of formats, yet here it is, still managing to scare, surprise, and delight.

Capcom have done wonders with the franchise’s back catalogue. The phenomenal Res Evil 1 and 2 were followed by the decent 3, all PS1 originals that definitely needed a new lick of paint. But while some will argue this remake was wholly unnecessary, after coming through it I really do beg to differ.

Sure, it’s familiar. All the big scenes are still here, but they manage to be more tense and horrifying than ever before. We already talked about the game’s opening sequence at the barn where you’re being hunted down by an entire village. Others are even worse.

Ashley’s turn in the library, holy shit. The boss battles, absolutely gruesome. Driving around in your boat while going fishing, yup!

Fights with oversized giants. You ain’t seen nothing yet. And Chainsaw man…yeah, those encounters still make the butt cheeks clench up.

You may feel you’ve seen it all before and are passing this off as just another 4K uplift of a near twenty year old game. While not entirely inaccurate, there’s lots of hidden objectives, side quests, new and expanded areas, more ferocious enemies and puzzles to solve.

New quippy dialogue also makes Kennedy more corny than ever, but also expands the role of characters like Ashley and Luiz. Even Ada.

And while the remakes of the other three Resident Evil games feel more like core experiences, Res 4 feels more action-oriented with each chapter feeling like a self-contained game with new mechanics and ways to play.

The developers have made the experience feel more varied, in-line with modern adventures as opposed to sticking too faithfully to what iconised the franchise.

You will need to do some espionage at later points, other times you’re going to need to fight your way out of a small confined space while watching every angle.

At times, that makes Res 4 really frustrating as the game sort of borders on older design which is certainly more of a challenge than what you’re used to from a modern release.

For me, this is what makes this remake so different to, say, Dead Space. While that also remained largely faithful to the source material too, the game felt better adapted for modern audiences. Res 4 sort of revels in harkening back to the old days of survival horrors, putting added pressure on the player and making each experience feel scrappy.

You’ll breathe a sigh of relief quite often as you survive one encounter to the next. You’ll smile as you catch sight of the typewriters or that familiar purple light where you’ll find the chatty merchant.

And yes, you’ll still need to do a bit of Tetris in order to make items fit in your case, but it’s been done in a way that feels better suited to newer audiences, with the ability to immediately store items from anywhere and being able to move items around more freely.

Resident Evil 4 was a real divergence for the series, which made it so bold at the time. And Capcom have respected that change, making it feel very different from their previous remakes but equally making sure the atmosphere that made it so special (and equally unsettling) remains intact.

Leon will experience flashes that illustrate the struggles he’s going through. Battles see him fight against the virus that wants to consume his body alive. Sick rituals scattered all over, as well as the terrifying abominations wandering about, leave nothing to the imagination as you desperately fight your way through.

And then there’s the fatalities, at times putting the likes of Mortal Kombat to shame with Leon getting his insides sawn to pieces by the Chainsaw man and his head completely taken off by axes.

It’s all made to feel more real with how great the character models look. From their expressions to their mannerisms, the level of detail in their arms, eyes, even the hair. Especially the hair. There is a mode to turn on the Hair Strands, after all.

Leon’s never looked better and so the desire to not get him all bloodied and beaten up probably shines through just a little more than usual.

But as mentioned, it’s not just a shiny, stunning new uplift. There’s side requests to take on for the Merchant which can earn you special rubies that can be traded in for unique rewards. Kill x amount of rats for pest control, confront that malicious enemy and claim your reward. Shoot at blue medallions dangling off of tree branches and positioned far off in the distance.

And if that’s not enough, our friendly Londoner has even set up a shooting range where you can use your unique weapons to blast cut out pirates and earn a high score. Get a high grade and you can trade small capsules in for case charms which provide unique weapon properties and also let you customise your kit in combination with new color schemes and sizing dimensions.

Capcom have done this smartly. Because for the most part it is absolutely, unequivocably Resident Evil 4. From the main story beats to the ranged and closed quarter action, the absolutely terrifying horror and unmatched atmosphere. There’s no looking back at the games on past gen, this is, for sure, the definitive way to play this all-time classic.

But somehow, despite the many re-releases, the unique ways Capcom have evolved the game over the years, from VR to Wii Remotes, and the perfectionism to keep giving the game an uplift on new hardware, this experience feels unique, different and essential, all at once. The story has been expanded in clever ways, the environments have been used to greater effect, the characters are given more time to breathe and develop and there’s still plenty of surprises in store, whether you’ve played the game once or a hundred times before.

Whether you were questioning the need for this remake, whether you had little interest in it before, this remake has more than justified its existence. It is a powerful, effective re-telling and reimagining of one of the all-time greats. Capcom have proven that this is a game that can still scare, still cause your palms to clam up and your heart to race.

This is easily the best of the Resident Evil remakes, both in terms of how it handles the source material and evolves it, but equally how it still manages to stay true to the foundations. I wasn’t sure this was a journey I needed to take again, but I am so very glad that I did.


Resident Evil 4 is more brutal, intimidating, unsettling and intriguing than ever. By far, the best of the Resident Evil remakes in a way that it honors the foundations of the source material, logically expands upon them in interesting ways, and manages to make everything look, feel and play better. Regardless of where Capcom go from here, this is peak Resident Evil – it just does not get much better than this. 


+ Characters, story and environments expanded in smart ways
+ Lots of additional extras to keep the game feeling fresh
+ Looks absolutely stunning with an unmatched atmosphere


– Some sections really lean into the old school survival horror adventures – for better and worse

Resident Evil 4 is now available on PC, Xbox and PlayStation

Code Kindly Provided by Capcom

Played on PlayStation 5

Skip to toolbar