Resident Evil 4 (2023) Review

Ladies and gentlemen… They nailed it.

Resident Evil 4 was released in 2005 and changed the game. Action and survival horror would never be the same. The notorious “tank” controls of yesteryear were discarded forever in favour of tight, over-the-shoulder third person movement. Technical improvements meant more enemies on screen at once, leading to hectic action-survival set pieces. If this game had come out 5 years earlier, Dr. Salvador would probably be one of four total enemies in that original village sequence.

And it would have been enough!

Yes, Resi 4 is truly a classic. When the remakes of Resident Evil 2 & 3 were well received, 4 seemed inevitable. But 2 & 3 are different beasts. 4 has a special place in so many peoples hearts, a critical darling filled with iconic moments and cheesy dialogue that was played and replayed time and again by many, yours truly included. To remake such a title is a risky proposition. What if they ruin it? What if Leon doesn’t say his stupid one-liners any more? What if they make Ashley’s ears smaller?

No worries there.

Thankfully, Capcom know what they’re doing. This remake is a near perfect modern update, tweaking gameplay mechanics just enough to be interesting and toning down the camp just a smidge while still keeping some corny lines in there. Granted, I am still a *tiny* bit annoyed that Leon doesn’t say “No thanks, bro” at any point over the course of the game, but I will eventually get over this glaring omission.

*Sigh* FINE. I’ll take it. Whatever

The village, the castle, the island, all locations have been re-created with astonishing care and attention to detail. The mysterious merchant returns with new side-quests, gleefully throwing logic out the window with a cockney twinkle in his eye. Even his target range is back, and you can tell the developers really have love for the original material when the bonus round kicks in and a remix of the radio music from the OG intro starts playing.

Fuck these skull targets in particular, though.

Not just the merchant is back, every character has returned with a modern twist. Ashley is less of a useless, whiny damsel in distress stereotype. Luis actually sounds Spanish and thankfully makes no mention of Ashley’s “ballistics.” Ada decided to leave the evening wear at home for once, and Krauser is back with actual character motivation.

His boss fight music is better than ever, too.

Sadly, I did say the remake is *near* perfect. Some notable exclusions include the “It” monster and associated boss fight, which I think would have paired really well with the more serious horror tone of the remake. Also… Um… No, I think that’s it. I miss that one boss fight and some of Leon’s comebacks and have no further notes.

A senior moment, perhaps.

Capcom really got this right. I have total faith in whatever they decide to remake next. As long as Chris Redfield still punches a boulder in the inevitable 5 remake, I’ll be happy.

The Rare Hope of The Lands Between

“We found love in a hopeless place.” – Hidetaka Miyazaki, 2022

Elden Ring’s The Lands Between is certainly From Software’s most beautiful setting, perhaps one of the most aesthetically pleasing locales in video game history, but it’s not just the stunning visual of the glittering Erdtree rising miles into the sky that sets it apart from other games. The Lands Between has in abundance what other “Soulsborne” settings are sorely lacking: Hope.

So many vistas!

Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne all suffer an oppressive sense of hopelessness. Boletaria, Lordran, Drangleic, Lothric, Yharnam… I wouldn’t exactly call any of these prime holiday destinations. You visit at the nadir of civilisation, when all hope has withered into nothing, the sole consolation to the people who still have their sanity being the knowledge that soon everything might just go away forever.

Oh yeah. This is… This is great. I might rent a flat here

Perhaps Sekiro’s Ashina is the only other least depressing location, but the grounded world of Sengoku-era Japan sets it apart from the more dark-fantasy apocalypticism of the rest of From Software’s modern catalogue.

Standing in stark contrast to said catalogue, The Lands Between is vibrant and full of life. While humanity itself may be suffering a more traditional From Software fate, labouring under the yoke of power hungry gods and cursed with immortality until they lose their minds, the flora and fauna is thriving. Sheep and Deer graze in Limgrave, the lush Mistwood forest home to boars, beetles and bears, oh my (fucking god)

I can’t bear this XD

Liurnia’s watery terrain hosts its own unique crustaceans, flourishing with an endless supply of witless tarnished to pinch to their hearts content, and the Altus Plateau is basically where animals with decent credit go to graze eternal.

No, I didn’t forget about the lake of rot under Liurnia. I am merely ignoring it

I mean, it’s not all sunshine and golden light. Obviously, Caelid is suffering from something of an environmental catastrophe (putting it mildly. We’re talking like 1000 simultaneous Exxon Valdez oil spills here) and the Mountaintops of the Giants are something of a testament to the gods penchant for indiscriminate genocide… But hey, life found a way to survive in the Consecrated Snowfield, at least!

And not just any life! More fucking bears!

My point is, this isn’t a world condemned to ruin. What sets The Lands Between apart from its contemporaries is the sense that shit can be fixed, and not in the “slap a band-aid on it” sense of kindling the flame. It’s not too late, but the tension of the lands predicament is that it’s on a knife-edge. Stuff could get better (gods fuck off, cycle of natural life and death resumes) or a whole lot worse (rot eats the land, crazy flame god burns the world down) It all depends what kind of Tarnished manages to fight their way to Elden Lordship.

Not you.

Personally, I trust my blue four-armed wife to sort everything out.

She’s got this.