Capcom sent hands-off preview footage of the upcoming remake of Resident Evil for Gamewatcher to pore over. Here’s what we learned from it.
The Resident Evil franchise has had a high hit rate in the post-Resident Evil 6 world. However, the remakes have been a mixed bag. The 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2 was brilliant, but the 2020 remake of Resident Evil 3 was much more divisive. It is likely that more people will be invested in the upcoming remake of Resident Evil 4 than in the previous two. Are there any indications that this remake will be reminiscent of Leon Kennedy’s last remake outing?
The gameplay footage was divided into multiple sections and opened with Leon in an underground cavern, facing off against some Las Plagas-infected villagers. Apart from Leon now using a boat to travel between areas, this segment of the footage showcased the parry system in action for the first time. A villager with a tentacle head made a sweeping attack towards Leon’s head, and our floppy-haired protagonist stunned it with a swift knife flick, displaying the new parry mechanics.
I'm not sure a gun will do it here
If we had any concerns about the Resident Evil 4 remake, it would be with this parry mechanic. In the reel’s finale, we see Leon engaging in a knife fight with Krauser, his former colleague. The pair’s clash is not dominated by Quick Time Events (QTEs), but rather by this back-and-forth parry mechanic. While it seems the mechanic was designed specifically for this encounter, I worry that it may end up being unnecessary outside of this particular fight and potentially detract from the overall gameplay experience. Nevertheless, it’s too early to say for sure whether this will be a significant issue.
We find some reassurance in the overall combat, which flows smoothly and maintains the quick pace and power of the original game while also incorporating the constant threat of being caught off guard or overwhelmed. Throughout the gameplay, Leon alternates between proactive and reactive approaches. The introduction of the quick swap inventory from recent Resident Evil titles seems to be a significant aid in this regard. The footage showcases numerous instances where Leon quickly dispatches enemies with his pistol, fights off groups with his shotgun, and pops heads from a distance with his sniper rifle. The return of context-sensitive actions is more refined, seamlessly blending close-quarters combat with shooting gameplay.
If Capcom is able to maintain the same essence of the original’s combat encounters while adapting it to a more modern style, that would be a remarkable achievement for the remake. While it’s acceptable to make modifications and additions to the game’s structure, it’s crucial to ensure that it still feels like Resident Evil 4. The remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3 faced difficulties with this, particularly Resident Evil 3. I understand that it may be challenging to strike the right balance, so achieving it as closely as possible is the best we can hope for.
The villagers certainly have some extra 'personality' now
As Leon’s underground escapades come to an end and before we visit the castle, the game introduces us to the enhanced version of the Merchant. Similar to Resident Evil 4’s The Duke, this iteration of the enigmatic vendor now operates out of a ramshackle storefront instead of pulling items out of his somewhat questionably grubby coat. The experience appears to be comparable otherwise, with the Merchant providing commentary on upgrades in his signature, slightly ominous style.
The preview also showcases the attaché case inventory system, and fans of item-stacking puzzles can rest assured that this will still be available in 2023. Additionally, it’s noteworthy that the case can now be customized, allowing for the addition of a charm that provides various boosts. In the footage, a charm is shown that grants 100% health for all eggs consumed, which seems like a useful addition specifically tailored for the new Mercenaries mode.
Moving on to the castle, Leon and Ashley make their way toward it with ominous music intensifying like a balloon filled with spoiled meat. Veteran fans of the Resident Evil series will likely anticipate what lies ahead for the duo. The interactions between Leon and Ashley appear to blend seamlessly into the gameplay, with Leon able to direct Ashley’s actions with the press of a button while still focusing on the crucial task of keeping his head attached to his shoulders. If you were among those who believed Ashley was a hindrance in the original game (she wasn’t), the remake should alleviate those concerns. However, players will still need to prevent Ashley from being abducted by cultists.
Ashley can handle herself a bit more.
The gameplay footage reveals a section in the castle’s courtyard that culminates in an intense gauntlet, with Leon using a cannon as a lockpick. When Leon gets injured, there’s a nice little touch where he instinctively grabs the wounded area while continuing to fight. It’s one of those slightly absurd yet enjoyable moments that the Resident Evil series executes so well, given that Leon should probably be dead from the injury he sustained.
Upon reaching the interior, there’s a meeting with that diminutive freak Ramon Salazar, who is looking a lot less youthful in the remake. This encounter leads to an ambush that shows off Leon’s flowing murder skillset. He tops off the fracas with his best Brock Lesnar impression by launching a cultist with a German Suplex.
We swiftly switch to a quick look at the boss battle against Garrador, a blind mutant with Wolverine-like claws. The encounter is teased as Leon and Ashley sneak through tunnels, hearing Garrador’s menacing growls. We then see Garrador charging around and grabbing Leon in a bear hug with his rusty metal claws. While the room may be a bit gloomier than before, the fight itself seems largely unchanged from the original.
The fight with Krauser is more involving in the remake
The footage is topped off by the aforementioned Krauser knife fight. When Leon is able to break Krauser’s attacks, he can send him sprawling to the floor. In between that, there’s a lot of smack talk and monologuing going on. The footage ends before the fight does.
I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant about how this remake would turn out, but the footage I’ve seen has instilled more confidence in a modern reimagining of a classic survival horror experience. There’s a risk that it might become too action-oriented, but regardless of how it turns out, the game certainly won’t be lacking in gruesome monstrosities and cultists transforming into unspeakable horrors.
The Resident Evil 4 Remake is set to release on March 24th for PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Xbox Series X. A PSVR 2 version is also in the works, but an official release date has not yet been announced.
Most Anticipated Feature: The revised knife fight with Krauser could be ace