Resident Evil 4 remake review: gloriously gory perfection


Has it really been 18 years since Resident Evil 4 was first released? Given the iconic status of this horror game, it was only a matter of time before it got the remake treatment.

And what a remake it is. We’re back with our resident Sad Boy, aka special ops agent Leon. S Kennedy, whose floppy Justin Bieber hair and aquiline features are visible in even-higher definition this time around. He’s been sent to a remote corner of Spain to retrieve the President of America’s daughter Ashley, who seems to have been kidnapped by religious fundamentalist group Los Illuminados (as you do).

What follows, of course, is roughly 15 hours of hell. And for all the people who have questioned why Resident Evil 4 needed a re-release, all I can say is “play the game”.

It’s not just about the graphics — though, of course, these are beautifully remastered. The spirit of the original RE has been carried over faithfully, right down to the creeping ‘is something watching me?’ feeling that grows over the course of the game. Meanwhile, the iconic village sequence at the start is as chilling as ever.


A game as old as the original RE 4 stands the test of time remarkably well. However, the dev team have wisely added some upgrades, especially to the combat system: now, Leon can execute stunned enemies, ‘parry’ attacks using his combat knife, and roundhouse kick any zombies that venture near.

Playing on the PS5 (as I did) also offers a feast for the senses; in particularly tense moments, the haptic controller pulses almost like a second heartbeat, adding an extra level of tension.

This time around, there’s more of an emphasis on the survivalist elements. In addition to scavenging raw materials, Leon can craft his own ammunition and medicine from said materials. Depending on what level you play, resources range from easily available to bloody difficult to find. This leads to white-knuckle moments where it’s just you and your knife against a chainsaw-wielding boss — except now the knife has a durability bar and can break in your hand.

Fortunately, the studio seems to have got the balance right with what to add and what to lovingly polish and keep in. Yes, Ashley is back, but this time Leon can give her instructions, the better to keep her from harm’s way (keeping her alive proved to be extremely stressful).

A lot of RE 4’s old features have been retained, such as Leon’s beloved (and highly impractical) attaché case. This requires you to get creative with space to accommodate things such as brown eggs and green herbs, as well as new weapons.


The game has kept that sense of creativity, too. If stealth is more your thing, then the remake has embraced that; now, Leon can sneak around and pick off enemies one by one. On the other hand, if you’d rather be tactical about it, shooting a barrel of explosives just as the horde approaches will blow most of them to kingdom come instead. The possibilities are as endless as the zombies constantly try to take you down.

Special mention must also be given to the game’s world, which has been given a slight upgrade. It’s still a fairly straightforward linear map, but the surroundings have been fleshed out somewhat. This encourages nosy parkers to stick their nose into every house, cavern and creepy warehouse along the way. There’s even a motorboat (!) that can be accessed towards the end of the game, letting you explore the surrounding area in more detail. For those looking for a bit of novelty, there are also new side quests to complete — if eliminating rats or shooting medallions hidden around the village is your thing.

So, to all those nervous fans, rest easy: Resident Evil 4 is continuing 2023’s year of excellent horror reboots. This is a stylish, well-executed upgrade of the original, that adds in just enough new material to make it a thoroughly modern playing experience. A game for the ages.

Resident Evil 4 will be available from March 24 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S