Resident Evil 4 review: I'll buy it at a high price

The Resident Evil 4 remake had the challenge of improving upon one of the greatest games of all time. Does it cut the mustard or is this chainsaw missing some teeth?


Like many others, I was waiting for the Resident Evil 4 remake with high hopes and a bit of nervousness. Resident Evil 4 is a beast all its own compared to other mainline franchise entries. It was a turning point in the Resident Evil franchise and a keystone in the design of every third-person action game that followed. So, how do you improve on a masterpiece? I wouldn’t know where to begin. Capcom does, though. It also knows where to continue and where to end, taking what was considered an already impeccable game by many and moving the pieces just enough to make it an even more brilliant picture.

A familiar tune refined

If you somehow missed out on Resident Evil 4’s various forms since 2005, get ready for a trip. This one takes place a few years after the events of Resident Evil 2. Former Raccoon City rookie cop Leon Kennedy came out of the worst first day on the job in history to become a special agent for the US government. Unfortunately, the President’s daughter, Ashley Graham, was kidnapped and Leon’s the guy tasked with saving her. That takes him to a remote Spanish village, and it isn’t long before you’re pulled into the heart of a biological weapon-fueled cult as Leon races against time to save Ashley’s life.

The original Resident Evil 4 was scary, but it also had the beats of a cheesy action flick. As Leon fought enemies, secured Ashley, and interacted with other main characters like femme fatale Ada Wong and enigmatic ladies’ man Luis Sera, there were quips a-plenty and always a sense of confident bluster about it. The beauty of it has always been that no matter how good Leon is, the threats in Resident Evil 4 are intense enough to challenge him and keep the player on their toes.

Resident Evil 4 village fight.
Source: Capcom

I’m happy to share that a lot of that stayed intact here, and was even improved. Leon is still quippy and even has some new one-liners that will probably become favorites among fans. Meanwhile, I think many will agree that Ashley was often a chore in the original game that mostly just stood aside unless she needed to be saved. In the remake, she grows and becomes more meaningful, becoming stronger and more supportive of Leon as the story goes on. Where she begins scared and confused, later on, she comes to terms, cheers Leon on, and even enthusiastically helps him in key moments. Luis was also a favorite of mine, taking on a whole new dimension through both overt and subtle changes. Even the villains have been given effective depth. All of this happens without shedding much, if any, of their original beats, and I’d argue what was shed was either necessary or inconsequential in comparison to what was added.

I was shocked at how well the Resident Evil 4 remake constantly subverted my expectations. Yes, most of the main narrative points and broad outcomes are similar, but the journey between those beats moved constantly between gentle differences and massive shifts that I ultimately felt were for the better. Take Krauser for instance. The soldier turned renegade mercenary was always a weak point of the original defined mostly by an annoying quick-time event (QTE) knife fight and a somewhat obnoxious, but still intense boss battle. If you’ve seen the reveals on Resident Evil 4, then you already know the knife fight was made into a proper player-controlled battle, but it’s more than that. That fight is good and Capcom uses it to flesh out the stories of a lot of characters as the battle carries on.

Resident Evil 4 Krauser knife fight

Source: Capcom

All of this to say that Resident Evil 4 moved as I predicted in the broad strokes, but it did it in ways that made more sense. The sheer amount of remixed details constantly caught me off guard and delighted me. It made for a better, scarier Resident Evil 4 and an overall more satisfying package filled corner to corner with Easter eggs and deeper lore that are sure to delight fans of the series. Of course, not every single moment is drastically improved, but nothing falls short of the original. At worst, the lesser scenes just stay on par.

Whaddaya buyin’?

Resident Evil 4 merchant

Source: Capcom

Of course, none of that story would matter if Resident Evil 4’s gameplay wasn’t also up to snuff. The core gameplay is still mostly intact. Leon has a grid-based attaché case that he can fill with weapons, curatives, and gadgets. As deranged cultists come at him, you will likely employ a lot of it fighting them off. I will say right off the bat that one of my pain points with the game is the aim. Where the original had a laser pointer on every weapon, that’s removed here. Every gun has new aiming mechanics more in line with the previous Resident Evil remakes, with weapon sway and bonus accuracy for staying still and steady.

This is tough when you’re constantly surrounded by enemies. Early in Resident Evil 4, you may find yourself overwhelmed by panic as you try to land successful shots while avoiding being circled by foes looking to get a cheap hit in. However, I also felt it increased the tension right out of the gate. Hitting a critical shot on an enemy and busting their face open with a follow-up roundhouse kick feels more satisfying than ever. So do skull-popping headshots.

Resident Evil 4 scoping out a headshot on a cultist attacking Ashley
Source: Capcom

It’s worth noting that if the aim really gets to you, you’ll find weapons and attachments that will make that problem easier to deal with. Furthermore, Resident Evil 4 has a plethora of accessibility options that includes Aim Assist. If there’s an aspect of the game that you’re having issues with visually or mechanically, the option to adjust and dial them into your liking can be found throughout this remake’s wide assortment of gameplay and accessibility toggles.

The enemies in the remake get some new tricks to suit their numbers. Villagers that get behind Leon will actually try to hold him for other enemies to finish him off – absolutely terrifying when you’re turned around to see a chainsaw-wielding maniac approaching. Let him get in and it leads to one of the many revamped and brutal death scenes scattered throughout the game. Later on, further enemies are also full of new tricks and creepy little nuances that make them all the more intense.

Resident Evil 4's Leon with a knife
Source: Capcom

Leon has an incredible wealth of new toys and moves himself, with knives acting as a prominent star in this show. He has his own knife that can be repaired and upgraded at a merchant, but you’ll also collect lesser knives. It’s important because Leon can now parry attacks with it and negate damage. He can also break a grapple with a knife. The catch is each knife has a durability meter. Parrying and slashing uses a little durability while breaking grapples uses a lot. Being without a knife is a death sentence in some cases, so every decision made with them inside and outside of combat feels critical, and any time spent without them becomes all the more frightening.

There are a bunch of new weapons in the Resident Evil 4 remake and even some twists on the ones you know. Almost every original gun is accounted for, offering a wide variety of options between power, ammo capacity, range, and speed of use. I was particularly drawn to a newcomer: the Bolt Thrower. Taking the place of the Mine Launcher, this crossbow is very fun. You can kill silently with it (stealth is a meaningful option in this game) and collect your ammo from a corpse or missed shot, making it valuable for preserving your resources. I loved this twist on a weapon I really didn’t care for in the original, but Resident Evil 4’s armory is still full of satisfying options that will let you customize your offense to your heart’s content. You can even craft ammo and resources with new items found throughout the game (including lesser knives) or take on small quests from merchants (expanded beyond shooting blue medallions in the original) that will help you unlock even more enhanced gear.

Resident Evil 4 Leon and Ashley run from an explosion
Source: Capcom

A lot of the set piece action moments and encounters were also reworked and are mostly accounted for. I think the only one that stood out as less than the others was the lake fight. There’s something about the water of the lake in this remake that doesn’t look right. Leon’s boat stays mostly dry during the battle despite being thrown all over the place, and the waves in the lake do not look great compared to how gorgeous everything else in the game is. Even then, that encounter is hardly bad or unfun. The water just looks weirdly out of place among its otherwise gorgeous visuals.

The only other qualm I had is that there are some really distinct graphical quirks I noticed. Most notable is that this game has very few loading screens and, when moving into new areas, I could sometimes see visual filters, brightness, and contrast notably change only after I moved in, especially in heavily contrasted areas such as coming out of dark caves into open space. It’s a transition that’s likely necessary to keep the action flowing smooth, but was also poorly hidden. Nonetheless, I still prefer Resident Evil 4 moving along so seamlessly and keeping me in the moment without loading.

Hasta Luego, OG RE4

Resident Evil 4 chainsaw knife parry
Source: Capcom

Every issue I had about Resident Evil 4 was minor and each one could either be adjusted or was simply buried under the sheer amount of great content. This remake is intense and scary. It’s no cakewalk, but can be softened to suit you. The story is not only refreshed, but improved, and the shifts and added details will likely delight fans of this series as much as they delighted me. Moreover, New Game+ and all sorts of other unlockables after the credits mean we’ll all be likely playing through this one over and over again.

Capcom had a mountain of a task remaking Resident Evil 4. The original changed everything and set a benchmark for the series that is still celebrated 18 years later. Nonetheless, I say this without reservations: Resident Evil 4 remake improves upon a masterpiece in ways that will make it hard to go back to the original. It might very well be the most perfect horror-action game I’ve ever played.

This review is based on an early PlayStation 5 digital copy supplied by the publisher. Resident Evil 4 comes out on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on March 24, 2023.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

  • Beautiful & gory graphical upgrade
  • Wide variety of weapons
  • Well-reworked broad story & small details
  • Knives are much improved
  • All characters have more meaningful depth
  • Monsters are smartly improved & terrifying again
  • Weapons are widely varied & upgradeable
  • Solid accessibility & gameplay options
  • Set pieces and encounters are breathtaking
  • Very few loading screens
  • New Game+ & plenty of unlockables post-game
  • Zero performance issues
  • The lake fight is somewhat underwhelming visually
  • Aim can be difficult, but improved
  • Some remade parts simply on par with original
From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 17, 2023 12:01 AM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, Resident Evil 4 review: I'll buy it at a high price

    • reply
      March 17, 2023 12:15 AM

      History has been made here at Shacknews.

    • reply
      March 17, 2023 12:30 AM

      You clever bastard, TJ. That's a quality headline.

      I just played through the original RE4, and some aspects of it--particularly the narrative and casual misogyny--didn't age well.

      Really looking forward to playing through the remake!

      • reply
        March 17, 2023 12:35 AM

        At some point I had to stop gushing in this review, but I will say EVERY critique David and I had of the original was addressed, including the misogyny. If anything, we were hyper conscious to see if they kept anything unfortunate.

        • reply
          March 17, 2023 12:39 AM

          That's so awesome to hear.

          I probably will not have time to play this in the next 4-5 months, but fuck me, if I ain't buying it ASAP when my schedule is less hectic. Squeeeeee!

    • reply
      March 17, 2023 4:34 AM

      I've never played RE4

      I guess this is the way to do it?

    • reply
      March 17, 2023 4:37 AM

      Ok, so PS5 or PC? I have a 3080 but PC ports lately have not inspired confidence in me.

      • reply
        March 17, 2023 5:22 AM

        I’ve played on both for nearly two weeks. While they’re both great, I recommend PC. Tighter controls and lots more bells and whistles.

        Full PC impressions coming next week. :)

        • reply
          March 17, 2023 5:30 AM

          Awesome, thank you!!!

          Is the game cpu bottlenecked at all? I have a 3080, but only an 8700k.

          Is the visual different pretty significant PS5 vs PC maxed?

          • reply
            March 17, 2023 5:37 AM

            Nope, you should be good to go. I played on two PCs. One, at the Shacknews office, is tricked out. My PC at home was pretty good circa 2020 when I bought it. Both delivered on performance at various settings.

            I noticed slight visual jank in the PS5 version, such as the fat, bright white raindrops that had the Internet in an uproar a few weeks ago. On both PCs, the raindrops looked like raindrops. Not distracting at all.

      • reply
        March 17, 2023 5:26 AM

        PS5, couch, giant OLED

        • reply
          March 17, 2023 5:30 AM

          this always come up, but it's not like it's impossible to have both.

          i've got an hdmi / usb cable with a usb dongle running downstairs to my livingroom. with a bit of setup, i can wake my PC up from my couch and output to my C1. it's glorious. more work, but the fidelity bump and cheaper operational costs are worth it to me.

    • reply
      March 17, 2023 6:13 AM

      Does the game let you save at any time?

      • reply
        March 17, 2023 6:57 AM

        No, similar to other RE games, it keeps saving to typewriter checkpoints. However, I would add that they are generously places, plus unlike other games, this one’s story is cut into chapters and you can also save at every chapter’s conclusion. I never really ever felt like save opportunities were too spaced out.

    • reply
      March 17, 2023 8:15 AM

      Perfect scores from multiple outlets. I guess I should buy this.

    • reply
      March 17, 2023 5:06 PM

      10 / 10 !!!!!!

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