‘Resident Evil 4’ Remake: survival-horror for fans, newcomers alike


Ethan Potter

WRONG SPOT TO VACATION. Original Illustration of the games main character; Leon S. Kennedy.

Ethan Potter, Staff Writer

The “Resident Evil 4” video game released Mar. 24 is a remake of the original “Resident Evil 4” released in 2005, and is the latest in the long standing survival-horror franchise. The original has been celebrated as one of the best games of the 2000s, and is remembered fondly by fans. Almost 20 years later, the remake delivers in retaining moments from the original while heightening them for fans and newcomers alike. 

When it was initially released in 2005, “Resident Evil 4” was completely revolutionary. It introduced the gaming world to the over the shoulder camera system which would be seen in later games like “Gears of War” and “The Last of Us”. The game was more action oriented, addictively fun but still scary. But it also revived the franchise, being touted as “the new face of survival-horror,” in March of 2004 by Game Informer. 

When remaking “Resident Evil 4,” the developers must have thought if it will impact the gaming community as the original did. The answer to that is no, it can not possibly live up to what the original did for the shooter genre. So what can the remake do? Bring back fans to a fun game and give newcomers what made the famous “Resident Evil 4” so great.

Due to being released 18 years after the original, the remake won’t be as influential and inspiring as it was to the gaming community in 2005. Despite that, the remake improves and heightens every part of the original game, shows us why it’s important, and is an excellent experience for fans and newcomers alike. 

In “Resident Evil 4”, Leon S. Kennedy, played by Nick Apostolides, returning from “Resident Evil 2”, is a special agent sent to a Spanish village to look for Ashley Graham, played by Genevieve Buechner, the President’s daughter, when he is attacked by villagers being controlled by the “las plagas”  parasite. The remake is faithful so all of the story elements here are the same with only minor changes, the difference is in tone. 

As “Resident Evil 4” was released in 2005, its story was deemed “uncharacteristically goofy,” by GameSpot when referring to some of the dialogue and scenes. Over the years this story is seen as charming like a saturday morning cartoon is. Despite having these goofy moments the game can still be terrifying to play.

The remake keeps a finer balance between being “goofy” and being serious. Generally it is more serious keeping within lines of realism seen in the newer games. As a result, the remake is more unified. Sometimes the original can feel chaotic, again giving a charming sense of cheesiness like when Leon dodges fast moving lasers while doing Matrix-esque flips. This scene was removed in the remake along with the action movie directing style of the 2000s that was present in most cutscenes. 

However, the charming nature of the characters remains as the awkwardness of Ashley and Leon’s relationship still shines through. Leon still says immature and comedic lines, such as when he says “Nighty night, Knights,” after defeating some possessed suits of armor. Characterization seemed like a focal point for the development team. 

“So, when improving the game for modern consoles, there’s also the importance of improving the character interactions so, character interactions have been improved.” said Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, the lead designer on the original and producer on the 2023 remake in an interview with Shake News.

Ashley feels like a real character rather than a damsel in distress, and Luis Serra (André Peña) has a background and motivations rather than being just the dashing guy who hits on Ashley. 

“One of the main concepts for making a remake in the “Resident Evil” series is bringing [an] old game to users again,” said Yasuhiro Anpo, director of “Resident Evil 4” (2023) in a Vice interview.

In this way, simple aspects are done to modernize “Resident Evil 4.” In 2023, the original still holds up and is not nearly as dated as the original three games on playstation. Though one example is that in the original you cannot move while aiming and must stop to shoot. While in the remake, you can walk while aiming to back away. 

What we did then with the remake is we took those stages and we powered them up, essentially. We modernized them for the modern player

— Yoshiaki Hirabayashi

The excellent opening of the game is retained. Putting the player in the village and having them fight an endless horde with Dr. Salvador, a chainsaw wielding infected who can kill you in one hit, quickly makes the player adapt to the play style, weaving in and out of buildings searching for ammo for a chance of survival which is what “survival-horror” is about. It is these parts which the game excels, scaring the player but more importantly, being fun to play.

In addition to these quality in life improvements, which modernize “Resident Evil 4,” there’s also new content added, like the parry system, added enemies, and new areas, all contribute to strengthening what the original was trying to accomplish. “Powering up,” parts of the game shows through the meticulous attention to detail in every area, buffing up the original game. This remake is simply not a retexturing of the original, keeping the same code, nor takes too many creative liberties, changing what made the original game so beloved. It strikes a balance.  

Resident Evil You Tube channel

“Resident Evil 4” is the next remake after the release of “Resident Evil 2” (2019) remake, and “Resident Evil 3” (2020) remake, both counterparts to their original made 20 years ago. These remakes have been released alongside new games, which were a fresh start for the series starring brand new characters and returned to the survival-horror genre when the last few games before that were more action movie oriented starting from the original “Resident Evil 4” (2005). 

The return to what “Resident Evil” is rooted in proved a success as “Resident Evil 7” sold 11.7 million copies, as of 2022 being the best selling game in the series. The new “Resident Evil” games represent a new jumping on point for new fans while being a return for older fans. For this reason the release of the new games alongside the remakes allow fans to catch up with the series’s long returning characters.