Late to the Party: Resident Evil 4

When I pick a game to cover for Late to the Party, I go one of two routes. Something I know I’m going to hate or something considered innovative at the time of release. This time, I picked the latter, Resident Evil 4. A game that has been sitting on my backlog since 2016. So when I heard the remake was dropping in late March this year, I decided now is the time to beat it. What makes this game so beloved? What is so special about it that so many developers are still citing it as an influence? What made Capcom port and remaster it to almost every console except the Ouya? To put it simply, it’s because the game is fun.

Big-budget horror games have to walk a very thin line. They can’t lean too much into horror via the game mechanics because they could make the experience a miserable one. Resident Evil 1 Remake was terrifying….. from the 30 minutes I played. Though the mechanics made the game that much scarier, they also made it a complete chore to play. The camera is the enemy, the backpack is your enemy, and the playable character’s legs are the enemy. But they also can’t lean too much into action or all tension is lost, like in Dead Space 3.

What makes Resident Evil 4 special is that it manages to work effectively both as a horror and an action. It provides a bunch of weapons that feel good to use, but it sets some limitations so tension is maintained like forcing Leon to stand still while aiming. While I never ran out of ammo, the game is set up in a while that running out was always on my mind. Trying to figure out if it’s worth risking taking a hit to save some ammo by getting up close or playing it safe far away and potentially wasting some bullets. From an all-time great intro level to the minecart section to the final boss fight the game remains entertaining throughout, constantly mixing things up and providing fresh set pieces.

It ain’t a perfect game. The 3rd act takes a dip in quality, but I can honestly say that this is a game that holds up very well. I look forward to replaying this in a decade when Capcom re-re-remasters it for the PS6.