“Resident Evil 4 (2023)” reminds me why I started playing video games


Photo courtesy of Capcom

“Resident Evil 4 (2023)” is the remake of “Resident Evil 4 (2005)”. It evolves the original into one of the most fun games I have ever played.

Ian Young, Staff Writer

“Resident Evil” has the weirdest and most complex history of any video game franchise.

With 30 games released since 1996, “Resident Evil” has come a long way. During that span, the franchise released a lot of notable games, such as “Resident Evil 2” in 1998, “Resident Evil 3: Nemesis” in 1999 and “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” in 2017. All of these games have been an evolution of the franchise and staples in the survival-horror genre.

However, no other game in the franchise is as loved and cherished as “Resident Evil 4.”

“Resident Evil 4 (2023),” released March 23, is the remake of the survival horror classic “Resident Evil 4 (2005).” Developed and published by Capcom, players control special agent Leon S. Kennedy, who is on a mission to rescue the United States’ president’s daughter, Ashley Graham. Ashley has been kidnapped by a religious cult in rural Spain. While the mission progresses, the scale of the cult’s operation grows as the player fights villagers, cultists and soldiers infected by mind-controlling parasites.

My experience with the “Resident Evil” franchise is relatively new. I played the intro sequence to “Resident Evil 4 (2005)” at a friend’s house way back in elementary school. Since then, I have played “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” and “Resident Evil Village.” Both of these games were great and revived the franchise, but nothing cemented itself in my brain like the introduction sequence from “Resident Evil 4 (2005).” The tone, atmosphere and goofy one-liners stuck with me compared to aspects from the other games I have played.

Players take on the role of Leon S. Kennedy. He is a very simple character, but a strong and well-written protagonist. (Courtesy of Capcom; Photo by Ian Young)

I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. Online opinions and discussions with some friends show how people feel about this game. “Resident Evil 4 (2005)” wasn’t just the best “Resident Evil” game, it was one of the best games ever made. This game radiates love and enthusiasm no other game in the series does. Even if you love “Resident Evil 2” or “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” and it was your favorite game, you don’t love it as much as someone who loves “Resident Evil 4.”

Going into this remake, I still had that introduction sequence in mind, but otherwise had a completely blank slate as I never played the rest of the game. I knew I was going to enjoy it, but I didn’t know how much.


A secluded Spanish village

For me, the defining aspect of the original game was its tone. This tone was created by a bright color palette, goofy dialogue from the main characters and horror set pieces expressed through gameplay.

Tonally, “Resident Evil 4 (2023)” hits the reset button. The game is much more horrific but still retains its insane action set pieces and fun.

Everything is much darker in the remake, and the lighting is much more dynamic. Due to technological advancements since 2005, the lighting has been completely transformed. Each location is meticulously illuminated by realistic lighting. All the game’s most tense and chilling encounters happen in pitch-black darkness.

The main enemies in “Resident Evil 4 (2023)” are cultists infected by a mind-controlling parasite. (Courtesy of Capcom; Photo by Ian Young)

The physical darkness adds so much to the game’s tone. Paired with the graphical advancements and the amount of detail in every aspect of the game, the game is made so much more horrific. What ultimately completes this feeling is the setting, a rural village in Spain out in the middle of nowhere. No one is coming to save the player as they get swarmed by hundreds of villagers infected with parasites. It elevates the player’s feeling of helplessness and the notion they are the only ones who can get them out.


“Where is everyone going? Bingo?”

In modern games, developers try to add a lot of depth to their character writing. The biggest examples include Arthur Morgan from “Red Dead Redemption 2,” Kratos from “God of War” and Joel from “The Last of Us.” It’s a new way games have been able to present some emotion or societal commentary in their games and get the player attached to the person they are playing as.

In this case, it’s Leon S. Kennedy, a man who walked into this mission with three objectives. He must save the president’s daughter, roundhouse kick everyone who gets in his way and spew as many one-liners as Capcom could fit into this game’s code. Leon is such a fun character to play as. He is fearless, confident, single-minded and uncomplicated. I love complicated characters in fiction, but I also really like characters who just do what it takes to get a job done.

Just because he is a simple character doesn’t make him one-dimensional. He thinks back to the events of “Resident Evil 2” and how much that event changed his life and character. Leon has been trained as a government operative which comes in during gameplay and cutscenes. He is also a really nice dude who reassures Ashley during this traumatic experience.

Early action scenes prepare the player for progressively bigger and wild action set pieces. (Courtesy of Capcom; GIF by Ian Young)

He is a very simple character in the best way. Leon reminds me not every character has to have 10 pages of backstory and nuance to be well-written. Sometimes, simplicity is the best.

My connection to Leon as a character and how good it feels to play as him cements my opinion that “Resident Evil” games are best formatted in third-person. While the first-person perspective allows the player to feel as if they are the one tackling the challenges in front of them, it lacks the personality and the effective storytelling the third-person perspective does.


Action-packed gameplay

Easily, the biggest change the remake brings is the massive expansion to the combat sandbox. “Resident Evil 4 (2005)” was the first game in the franchise to provide an offset, over-the-shoulder perspective in 3D environments, while the previous games had pre rendered 2D environments with tank controls.

Other notable shifts in gameplay include the push towards action instead of horror, a large weapon selection and a huge roster of enemies. Not only was all of this monumental for the time, but it laid the groundwork for every third-person action game since then. 

Every excellent aspect of that original combat system is still here and has been revamped and improved in the remake.

The gameplay in “Resident Evil 4 (2023)” is the highlight of the game. It allows players to use the weapons they have to tackle different encounters. (Courtesy of Capcom; GIF by Ian Young)

The enemy variety is still the same, but due to updates in technology, enemy encounters are a lot more dynamic and sophisticated. Their animations and behaviors are a lot more erratic and unpredictable, allowing for a more aggressive playstyle compared to the original. Each enemy and encounter demands the player use every weapon in their kit to proceed and progress the game.

Every weapon from the original game has returned, but each has been tweaked to perform in different ways, leading to one of the most balanced games I have ever played. Each weapon has a purpose and a niche, whether it be stealth, single-target damage, close-quarters combat or crowd control. The biggest change is to the knife, which the players can use to parry melee and ranged attacks. This parry opens up enemies to a roundhouse kick, which is the most fun and satisfying attack I have ever had to dish out on enemies and pushes the player to get up and personal.

Players are able to use a knife to parry enemies. Once they are parried, players can follow up with a roundhouse kick to save ammo. (Courtesy of Capcom; GIF by Ian Young)

The sheer amount of flexibility and options the player has to approach encounters is a quality I haven’t seen in a video game since “The Last of Us Part II,” but even then, “Resident Evil 4 (2023)” still outdoes it in terms of difficulty. I played this game on standard difficulty, and it was not easy. The game does not pull any punches, pushing the player to reach the skill ceiling by switching weapons and taking full advantage of the environment. In combination with how good it feels to play as Leon, it’s no secret why “Resident Evil 4” is one of the most fun games I have played in recent memory.



My love for “Resident Evil 4 (2023)” really made me nostalgic for video games released in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era. Excellent, genre-defining games are still being released, but there is a lot of bad in the video game business nowadays. Microtransactions, day-one patches, awful P.C. ports and just a plethora of business garbage that takes away the number one reason I play video games: fun.

While the Xbox and PS3 era had their own issues relating to video games, the industry was a lot less focused on making money. Instead, there was a lot more focus on making a fun video game. That’s why a lot of my favorite games of all time were released in this era, games like “Dark Souls,, “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”. While I never got to experience the full package of the original “Resident Evil 4 (2005),” playing the remake made me feel like I was a kid again.

The Merchant allows players to purchase upgrades, buy new equipment and earn rewards by completing challenges. (Courtesy of Capcom; Photo by Ian Young)

“Resident Evil 4 (2023)” is just an extraordinary package, not because it is a remake of one of the best games ever made, but because it stands on its own as a magnificent video game. Just because it has excellent source material doesn’t automatically make it an excellent product. You can absolutely mess up a remake or remaster, but Capcom pushed themselves to rebuild this game from the ground up and make it faithful to the original game.

Not only is it a fantastic remake, but it is one of the best horror games I have played, one of the best third-person action games I have played and one of the most fun video games I have played.