1935 Reviews liked by LunaEndlessWitch

What if Resident Evil 4 did away with tank controls in favor of ‘modern’ controls? That’s the question RE4make is trying to answer, and from which many of its other changes flow. After all, it’s precisely that control scheme which lent the OG many of its unique dynamics. Yet it is also an overwhelming reality of convention and industry standards that makes tank controls in a modern game an incredibly hard sell, which no doubt influenced RE4make’s decision to move away from it. But, I do not believe that tank controls are irreplaceable to the OG’s success. If there’s any opportunity a remake has, it’s to twist the original to see what happens, and RE4R sure has done some twisting. Now freed of tank controls, what are the consequences of that in the remake?
The most noticeable changes by far are that Leon can now aim and reload while moving, and sprint in any direction. In RE4 this was restricted to put more emphasis on aiming as an action and your main method of interaction with the world, as if you were playing a light gun shooter (not unlike how stealth games make your player character poor at combat to emphasize stealth, or how games with a melee focus restrict the usefulness of ranged weapons). In the remake, this was done away with for the sake of appealing to intuitiveness and player comfort. However, by having it play and control more similarly to other shooters on the market this came at the expense of identity. Not that identity and uniqueness really impacts the quality of the game, but people do not experience games by just their ‘objective’ quality. So on RE4’s launch many fans called it “not a real RE game” precisely because of how differently it played to older RE games, whereas nowadays the definition of a “real RE game” has become much looser. It may be a silly and illogical and inconsistent thing, but humans were never perfectly logical creatures to begin with. To mitigate this loss of identity by taking away what makes something unique, you're better off also giving something unique back.
These changes also have several other knock-on effects on a mechanical level. Ranged attacks are now much less oppressive since the player can now simply sidestep most of them, reloading your gun now leaves you much less vulnerable, and the range of enemy melee attacks had to be readjusted to keep up with the player’s newfound mobility. On top of that, there’s the fact that RE4R was designed from the ground up to be a multiplatform release, and thus had to be designed with keyboard/mouse controls in mind. RE4 was designed mainly around the limited movement speed of the crosshair to give you more accuracy on a gamepad; enemies would slow down when they got close enough so you had the proper time and space to line up a shot. Playing RE4 with KB/M controls on PC or motion controls on the Wii then made target acquisition and targeting specific limbs much faster, leading to a different experience where the player could more easily control any given situation. Removing tank controls from RE4 as is would result in a more toothless experience, contrary to the survival horror vibe it wants to go for.
So how does RE4R make sure enemies can keep up with the player’s newfound mobility? For starters, enemies are much more aggressive and harder to control. They initiate attacks from further away, have more tracking on their attacks, and their attacks cover a greater distance. More enemies can attack you at the same time, and most encounters tend to feature more enemies than in the original. RE4R also implements RE2make’s crosshair bloom, making it harder to land hits unless you stand still to steady your aim (unless you have a laser dot equipped on your pistol), but also having a fully steadied crosshair give your next shot enhanced properties on hit.
The most important, and potentially most interesting change by far is that Ganados now take multiple shots to stagger (more prevalently the case on Hardcore difficulty and above, most of this piece is written with the higher difficulty settings in mind). It’s a necessary change considering the ease of target acquisition with the new control scheme. Otherwise automatic weapons would become even more busted than they were in RE4, but also because being able to move while holding the knife would let you set up a lot of staggers for free. What makes this change so interesting however is how it could in turn interact with the ammo economy, reload management, and the new focus shot system. The player could double/triple tap a Ganado for a quick stagger, or they could risk standing still for a moment to line up a focus shot for a guaranteed stagger using only one bullet--saving up on ammo in the long term and staving off a reload in the short term. This way RE4R could have emulated the control constraints of the original in a way where the player wants to not move while aiming rather than being forced to do so, providing a best-of-both-worlds option where the original light gun-shooter dynamic can be preserved in a way that’s also intuitive to most players. Plus, said “focus shots” could be applied to the knife as well, again incentivizing rather than forcing you to stand still for enhanced attack properties. Not only that, but the fact that you’d have to consider firing more shots at once rather than doing one-tap-into-roundhouse repeatedly would add some more nuance to reload management and decision making than RE4 did[^2]! At the same time, the increased aggression of enemy encounters and enemies themselves would make it harder than in the original to stand still and line up a shot, so it’s not as if lining up focus shots would be completely free.
Now, note that I am speaking entirely theoretically. In practice, RE4R doesn’t work like what I just said at all. Focus shots do not cause guaranteed staggers, they only slightly increase the critical hit chance and stagger value of the next shot, which is only a minor reward for a major risk. It makes steadying your aim not worth doing outside the accuracy benefits. Even worse is when you apply the laser dot upgrade on a pistol, which automatically makes every shot a focus shot and makes the stand-still/focus shot dynamic largely irrelevant for pistols (just like in the original Deus Ex, for example). Here I wish the game had adopted a hybrid crosshair system where you had both the OG laser sight and the RE2R crosshair bloom/focus shot dynamic, but alas.
But perhaps the most damning design choices in RE4R for me are the following two combined: the pistols have a relatively low base rate of fire, and enemies can’t be consistently flinched (i.e., a hitstun reaction without a melee prompt) even upon being shot in the limbs. What this means is that even if you do want to double/triple-tap an enemy into a stagger, the time it takes to get off enough shots is so long that in most cases enemies are about to hit you before you can get a stagger off anyways. In a system where one shot guarantees a stagger a la the original, having a low rate of fire to emphasize careful aiming makes sense, but in the current system that asks you to shoot multiple times for a stagger, a low rate of fire is just painful. At the same time, you cannot create additional time and space to set up staggers by flinching enemies, because whether an enemy will flinch on hit is semi-random[^3]. This wouldn’t have been as much of a problem in games where your workhorse weapons had a higher rate of fire (it’s why in games with RNG-based hitstun like Doom, a fast-firing weapon like the Chaingun is your go-to stunlock weapon), but the opposite being true in this case only exacerbates the fact that trying to control crowds in RE4make is generally unreliable and too slow to match the Ganados’ new aggression and numbers.
As a result of crowds becoming more unreliable to control, it turns the original’s pseudo-beat ‘em up gameplay of enemy state manipulation and well-timed i-frames into something more akin to horde shooters like Devil Daggers and Serious Sam. When the state of an enemy or a group of enemies becomes harder and more inconsistent to manipulate, the player will naturally tend to mitigate as much inconsistency as possible by keeping their distance from said uncontrollable threats. Crowd control is now less a matter of creating CC/i-frame opportunities by manipulating enemies to your benefit, but rather trying to out-kill an onslaught of enemies before they overwhelm you. In the original you could play aggressively right in the thick of enemy crowds thanks to the many i-frame/CC options at your disposal, but in RE4R this has been significantly nerfed: vaulting over walls/through windows or climbing ladders no longer gives you i-frames, contextual animations have next to no exit i-frames after you’ve regained control (i.e. still being briefly invincible after Leon recovers from being knocked on the floor or after doing a suplex), and kicks have a smaller hitbox and a smaller effective range on account of enemies tending to be more spaced out from each other now. Being caught in the middle of a crowd in RE4R has a higher tendency to snowball into you being stunlocked to death now that enemies are more aggressive, i-frames aren’t as easy to get, your context melee moves not being as useful for CC anymore, and stuns not being as reliable. While RE4R might have done away with tank controls in favor of more “fluid” controls, trying to control the situation has never been more difficult.
That said, me being Serious Sam’s strongest online defender, I don’t think this kind of gameplay in a RE game is inherently problematic, but when you view RE4R through the lens of a horde shooter you can start to see why it doesn’t really succeed at being one either. For starters, RE4R makes it too easy to kite enemies forever. While there was nothing preventing you from doing so in the original, it’s something that didn’t come as naturally to do on account of Leon’s backwards movement speed being slower than his forwards speed. If you wanted to create some distance, you had to turn your back towards the enemy and so lose sight of the situation. But in RE4R Leon can run towards the camera, allowing him to see his pursuers while running at full speed, thus rendering that original dynamic void. As most enemies in RE4R cannot catch up to a sprinting Leon (outside of Garradors, who only appear sparingly), whether you can kite them forever depends on whether the level you’re in gives you enough space to do so. In RE4R that is the case most of the time, outside of setpiece encounters where you get gradually boxed in from every direction (like the village and cabin fight). The original also made kiting come less naturally to do simply because the context melee moves were that useful, and made you want to stick closer to enemies to take advantage of a stagger before the enemy recovered. Not only was it free damage, crowd control, and invincibility, but it also saved ammo. On paper this is still the case in RE4R, but as mentioned before, context melee moves are now much less safe to do in the middle of crowds, and less rewarding.
Furthermore, RE4’s and by extension RE4R’s enemy cast were never designed to be that interesting to fight from a distance. The nuances in fighting a group of Ganados wielding a mix of one-handed, two-handed or no weapons at all become significantly less pronounced when you aren’t in melee range. Pressure units like Plagas spawns, Chainsawmen and Brutes were not meant to be that threatening from a distance, and ranged enemies with crossbows and grenades were designed to complement regular melee Ganados rather than be any interesting to fight on their own, which is why they have lower HP. There are no real long-range pressure units outside of Crossbow Brutes to make kiting harder to pull off, and Crossbow Brutes only appear in the last third of the game. As a result, target prioritization often feels like a matter of targeting whoever happens to be closest, while occasionally focusing on the ranged Ganado here and there. The constantly shifting threats and priorities that RE4 had with its close-quarters combat or Serious Sam has in its diverse enemy horde compositions is a large part of what kept them engaging, yet RE4R feels like it has neither. For this new horde shooter-ish gameplay to really tick, RE4R would need more enemy types that can control space from different ranges as if it were Doom 2 in order to fit the more ranged focus of its combat, rather than stick with the original enemy roster where most enemy types are melee combatants.
The main consequence of how kite-heavy RE4R’s gameplay turned out is that fights now feel a lot more homogenous, despite many encounters being largely identical to their original counterparts! The nuances that the tank controls and pseudo-beat ‘em up gameplay brought to each encounter are largely gone, and what’s come in its place doesn’t truly fill the void (however, with more radical changes to the original formula, or by bringing it more in line with the original instead, it could have done so). While it’s true that fights in the original could easily be boiled down by doing headshots into roundhouses ad infinitum if you wanted to, the system still allowed for a high degree of control and aggression the better the player got, which combined with the nuances in enemy behavior and controlled injections of RNG kept the game fresh and engaging even across multiple playthroughs. RE4R’s system on the other hand relinquishes potential player control in favor of creating uncontrollable chaos, resulting in a more defensive and reactive game where reasonably skilled play is identical to higher skilled play simply because there is less space for expression. Playing “lame” is what RE4R’s higher difficulties push you into by default. Again, this style of gameplay that you commonly see in horde shooters isn’t inherently problematic, but RE4R doesn’t have the enemies or spaces or tools or target prioritization to make the process of planning around and dismantling hordes that interesting.
To give you a (sharp) edge amidst all this chaos, the game thankfully gives you room to breathe using the new knife. Now that moving away from tank controls would take focus away from the original light gun-shooter feel and thus by extent Leon’s signature preference for pistols, RE4R absolutely made the right call by instead focusing more on Leon’s signature knife. New knife moves include being able to perform takedowns on stunned or knocked down enemies, which instantly kills regular Ganados and deals massive damage to higher-tier Ganados, while also preventing Plagas spawns. You can backstab unaware enemies using the new stealth mechanic, which felt like something Leon should have been always able to do, what with him being a special agent. My favorite new interaction is how takedowns work together with the new wallsplat state: carefully aimed staggers or kicks that cause enemies to stumble backwards into a wall puts them in a wallsplat state, during which you can execute a knife takedown on them from the front for big damage. It adds a new and interesting dimension to fighting Chainsawmen and Brutes where you’re trying to position yourself correctly to chain multiple takedowns together, and so get rid of them quickly while saving up on bullets.
Of course, it’s impossible not to bring up the new knife parry[^4]. It works as you’d expect. Time a parry right--you escape damage. Time it perfectly–you get a free stagger on top. It’s the only tool in your arsenal to let you play with any degree of aggression rather than endless kiting, so regardless of your feelings about the prevalence of parries in modern action games, the knife parries are arguably a net positive inclusion in RE4R. Thankfully RE4R is sane enough not to have parries be the answer for every attack: you won’t be able to chain parry a stream of arrows/bullets, a knife won’t help much against fire or explosives, chainsaw swings can only be blocked with your knife and usually end up breaking it in the process, and hammer swings and grabs can only be ducked or ran away from rather than parried. Sounds good, right?
Well, there’s actually two major caveats that end up kneecapping the usefulness of parries in larger fights. One is that while perfect parrying attacks gives you some reward, successfully ducking grabs gives you nothing. Second is that unarmed grab-happy Ganados are present in almost every encounter, and you can increase their numbers if you disarm a Ganado holding a weapon. So what does this have to do with parrying? The issue is that even if you’re trying to play with some measure of aggression by parrying a group of enemies in their faces, the presence of unparryable unarmed Ganados will make parrying an unsafe choice compared to just kiting the entire group. You’ll parry one, and then you get grabbed immediately afterwards from behind. You could of course focus on the unarmed Ganado by doing a well-timed duck, but this in turn leaves you vulnerable to any other kind of attack, nor do you get any reward out of well-timed ducks. And even if perfect ducks gave you a free roundhouse kick like perfect parries, it still wouldn’t be an effective CC option with how nerfed the effective range of kicks has become and enemies being more spaced out in general. It’s a deadly mix that’s not worth getting close to.
While creating dynamic situations where some player options are less or more optimal than others is what action games should strive for, here we have a situation where next to no option except one (the almighty kite) ends up being the correct one, which is just as bad as one option being so strong that anything else is just redundant. It’s something that could have been avoided with more consistent flinch/stagger rules on (unarmed) enemies. If anything, that’s already how it works against Ganados with throwables in RE4R! You may not be able to parry explosions or fire, but you can shoot a ranged Ganado’s projectile to make it prematurely explode/deflect or shoot them in their arm to momentarily disable them. That way you can proactively create safe opportunities to deal with melee Ganados without having to keep kiting for an opening. Instead, you’ll just have to deal with the chaos.
As to why the developers chose to make RE4R more a game about being subjected to chaos, one can only guess, but mine is that it was done to bring it more in line with the Resident Evil 2 Remake that the team previously worked on. RE2R was unabashedly about risk mitigation and being subjected to RNG, also as a way of minimizing player control over situations for the sake of creating horror. How many shots it took to kill a zombie there was even more random! But the key reason it worked there and less so in RE4R is because of RE2R’s traditional survival horror structure. You could kite zombies, sure, but the even scarcer ammo management discouraged killing every zombie you see in favor of running past them, whereas the narrow halls of the RPD made running past zombies easier said than done. The fact that your objectives made you backtrack through zombie-filled rooms you already visited added more long-term considerations on whether to spend ammo on zombies in a room you’re likely to revisit often, and on how to plan your route through the map. Add an invincible pursuer enemy to the mix, and you get gameplay that really tickles the noggin’. The micro-level dynamics of dealing with individuals or groups of enemies in RE2R is simpler than in RE4R, but what kept RE2R engaging was the macro-level resource management and routing gameplay on top of that. RE4R being more of a linear action game means these macro-level dynamics couldn’t be as present. It’s probably why RE4 added more nuance to how micro-level engagements played out to keep the linear gameplay interesting, even if Leon roundhouse kicking and suplexing enemies would make the game end up feeling less scary. The remake then trying to make the horror more pronounced again by downplaying player control over situations without adding anything to fill the void probably wasn’t the best choice.
Overall, while the new additions from RE4R to RE4 are generally okay, the changes to existing elements end up feeling haphazard. It doesn’t quite try to refine/emulate the original, but at the same time doesn’t try to do something radically new either. Perhaps the intention was to bring it closer to RE2R in terms of gameplay, but in a linear action context that would never quite work. When changing a core element such as tank controls, especially in a game as mechanically lean as RE4 was, there will be a lot of ripple effects. Some will be obvious, but a lot will be more subtle. As it turns out, a lot of the subtler ones are also the little details that helped make the original tick. Without a clear vision on where to take the gameplay in a new modernized context, and without thorough knowledge on how the parts in the original moved and worked, it’s easy to end up with what feels like a stilted translation of an old text. At the very least, it is interesting to see how experiments like this pan out as a way of reexamining what made the original (not) work, and for trying out what-if scenarios. I did expect a remix of RE4 rather than a comprehensive reimagining, and that’s largely what I got.
I give it a 5/5 S.T.A.R.S.
The new ammo crafting system may feel like a thoughtless modernism, and perhaps it indeed was one, but I think it ends up being a major net positive. Basically, by introducing more crafting items with a high drop chance to the enemy loot table, you end up reducing the chances of you getting healing or ammo drops. The more items there are in a loot table, the lower the theoretical maximum drop chance of any given item is going to be. But at the same time, these crafting items let you mitigate these lower drop chances by giving you more direct control over what kind of ammo or grenade you want to craft. It’s a brilliant two-birds-with-one-stone solution! It makes resources more scarce to more often push outside your comfort zone and reconsider every shot (especially in comparison to how lenient RE4 could get ammo drops, even on Professional). At the same time, giving extra control over what resources you get prevents the game from feeling like you’re at the total mercy of RNGesus. It also has the hidden benefit of smoothing over and covering up the ammo rubberbanding the game does under the surface, which helps diminish the notion that you can expect the game to automatically start dropping extra bullets for your gun if you happen to almost run out.
[^1]: Incidentally, the original already has a near-identical dynamic when it comes to the time it takes to target different limbs. Because of how OG Leon always recenters his aim to head-level when deploying his guns, it means that it’s always faster to move your crosshair over an enemy’s head (for doing headshot into roundhouse kick for crowd control) than it is to move it over their shins (for doing legshot into suplex for big single-target damage). Re-centering your camera upon aiming down sights is another one of those things that you absolutely could not get away with in a modern game, even though it comes at the potential expense of cool dynamics like these.
[^2]: Rather than one shot guaranteeing a stagger or a flinch reaction depending on the enemy hitbox you shot and the state they were in, now there’s a hidden bar for staggers and flinches that fills up the more damage you inflict. How much stagger/flinch value a shot inflicts is calculated via an obtuse formula which depends on the base stagger/flinch value of your current weapon, the damage of that weapon, whether it’s a focus shot, and some additional random deviation. Basically, as you upgrade the damage on your weapon, the more often it will inflict stagger/flinches on hit. What this means is that in the early game stuns are triggered inconsistently as all hell, and throughout the game it becomes difficult to intuit what exactly the minimum and maximum shots required to stun is, which becomes even more complicated since some enemy variants have different stagger resistances on top of that. Then to throw another wrench in the works, enemies in the Island get increased stagger resistance overall.
[^3]: Reloading is one of those things that gets taken for granted in most shooters, yet RE4 forcing you to stand still while reloading already makes it a more interesting implementation than those in most other games. When you consider that reloading and limited magazine capacity is the shooter equivalent of stamina systems in action games, you can start to see how barely any games try to do anything interesting with it and just include it for realism’s sake. Basically it’s an inevitable cooldown where the player can control when and where it gets reset. In RE4 this led to several interesting decisions, where sometimes it would be better to forego knifing a downed enemy in favor of reloading your gun so you were prepared once all other downed enemies woke up. In other situations where reloading was too unsafe to do, it’d push you to switch to another weapon that either doesn’t really fit the situation or uses an ammo type you’d rather not spend, which ended up creating cool moments of improvisation. RE4R having smaller base magazine capacities and making you expend more bullets at once would mean reloads have a larger presence in combat, but being able to freely move and even run while reloading cuts out most of the risks associated with reloading. Annoyingly there’s also the tendency on top for most shooters to just let you upgrade reload speeds and magazine capacities to the point where the downtime of reloads becomes irrelevant, which includes both RE4 and RE4R.
[^4]: Though I’d hesitate to call parries being new to RE4. The original already had parries, it was called “shoot an enemy in the face right before they hit you”. This even worked against Chainsawmen! Normally they tank blows to the head as a pressure unit should, but shoot a Chainsawman in the head right as he’s swinging off your head, and you get a guaranteed stagger! Then again, this is a bit easier said than done considering enemies would rear their head back right as they swung at you.
The Markdown markup for footnotes will remain unmarked as-is until Backloggd adds support for them like any sane website made in the Reiwa era.

It does a lot of things right! Gameplay and music are incredible. But the story tries too hard to capitalize on Sky's appeal seemingly without understanding what the appeal even is, with garbage pacing and weak emotional impact.

allegedly has Tasty Steve commentating but I haven't heard him mention "good ass Tekken" once

Genuinely the most exhausted I've felt after beating a fantasy adventure game, taking the crown from Dark Souls III.
If I were meaner I'd drop 1 star but I'd be remiss not to acknowledge the technical and presentation aspects of this. As fun as it is to compare it to Gmod, it far exceeds it in many practical ways, though of course not being nearly as deep.
I don't have the energy to list out everything detail by detail but I think what killed a lot of my enthusiasm which peaked in the 10-20 hour mark (thus, spent close to 40-60 with a sense of "is it over yet?") was just the sheer lack of ambition in shrines and general quest design. For a game so heavily built around its lego pieces it sure is scared to make the player put more than 2 pieces together (and if it does, it leaves out a preassembled example 9/10 times.). There's little way to tell whether or not the shrine you're entering is worth your time, an easy "avoid" is if it's right alongside the main roads of the map, but even near the edge of the map or more far away regions I found the game reminding me for the 3rd time post-tutorial how to throw an item or how to stack objects. Late into the game I just started skipping shrines wholesale, unless they were convenient for fast travel i.e. in the sky islands or mazes or I just had a REALLY good feeling they'd be at least decent.
In many ways the Zonai stuff was the most consistently disappointing to me, with much of the slog of the game wrapping around to it. I scraped by with only 5 notches of battery(!!!) for 90% of my playthrough and felt like I had more than enough breathing room for any puzzles, bordering on bypassing many outright due to headroom. I said this shortly after leaving the great sky island, that they should have doubled charge capacity as a baseline; and I think they agree because any zonai task that looks like it'd ask for more also has batteries lying around to offset anyone who has an unupgraded charge.
By the time I wanted the game to be over it just kept sending me on absurdly long fetch quests. It might sound silly but do you know how often I completed a temple or major questline and thought "man I could've replayed Ico"? A lot more than just once lol. That's a new feeling for me really, in regards to singleplayer games; I may joke about it but I'm almost never serious if it's anything legitimate, but I really felt that here. In many ways I just don't think the game respects the players time, and I don't mean in an endearing / engaging way like you'd see in Demon's Souls or Faster Than Light. It doesn't help by this point it repeats the shit out of bosses in a way that would make Elden Ring blush, and unlike Elden Ring there's no easy way to tell if what you're doing is underpowered vs you based on map location; it feels arbitrary,
Really where this game shines is.. where most 3D Zeldas shine, which is the world and characters. and to that end it's very good imo. The music is also mostly lovely. I'm now too tired to write more, kind of like the average shrine quality walking from the outer tenth of the map inwards.

extremely innovative and forward-thinking. also somehow exponentially scarier than the sequel. one of the only games where I can say bad/clunky controls are a positive thing.

my interest in any truly structured long-form exercise here is more or less sapped so we'll hurriedly push past the brush and thistle to attempt to address the main points after one and a half playthroughs on hardcore. nota bene - i would have understandably played more if not for my analog stick succumbing to drift, and i would have also liked to squeeze in both a playthrough on standard as well as a professional playthrough in the interests of some nebulous due diligence i inexplicably feel i owe, but honestly the changes to professional seem mostly dull & the idea of learning the perfect parry timing in the game's second half on a ps4 with wobbly frame rate has less and less appeal the more i zero in on the idea. the ps4 version also has a significant problem with whatever technique they decided to use to render scope magnification, with a net result of halving the frame rate which is simply unacceptable for the kind of game this is - you're not zooming over swathes of land in search of a singular lonely target, you're scoping to try and land a bullseye that's five meters away! needless to say this made the regenerator sections tedious as all hell.
alterations to the core mechanical skeleton in RE4R are 'well-considered' but i hesitate to describe them as necessarily meaningful since an uncharitable interpretation would view this as a particularly hasty process of reverse engineering and applying tried-and-true bandaids to stem the hemorrhaging. free movement necessitates expanded enemy aggression, which inadvertently dilutes enemy behaviour, which means the designers had to inject elements of inconsistency to prevent easily optimized patterns of play, which calls for emergency defensive measures to keep encounters fair and level. this shifts the scope of its mechanics from thoughtful aggression to somewhat reactionary kiting. stack up enough of this over the course of a 12-20 hour playthrough and encounters start to blend together, something which becomes a rather serious issue once you get to this game’s fatigued rendition of the island. a shift in combat methodology towards reactionary gameplay wouldn’t be a problem in and of itself since you could argue it’s capturing some of re4’s more experiential qualities, but 1.) lol and 2.) brazenly inviting so many explicit grounds for comparison only serves to crystallize the qualities that made the original so special.
while many practical adages and tenets can be ascribed to and extracted from the original, it's difficult to say it doesn't subscribe to this overriding idea that 'less is more'. stop to consider the implications of this for one second and you might even recognize that the original doesn't have an overwhelming bestiary; there’s only a sparse handful of enemy types in spite of the notoriety of so many of its encounters. it’s commendable that a game built on minute alterations of one enemy unit can be described as constantly escalating and endlessly varied. one ganado on its own is never a threat, easily incapacitated with the swift slash of a knife, but as an enemy unit they are allowed to take on greater meaning through level design, decisions centered around resource management, and their method of deployment. in this sense, the original game has something of a beat ‘em up philosophy in its encounter design. there’s a comforting sense of rigidity set in place by its core mechanics which is then expounded on by the implementation of RNG which can alter the output of actions in ways both dramatic and subtle. a plagas eruption might force you on the retreat; a critical headshot might have robbed you of the roundhouse kick you were looking for; the enemy might have launched from your kick in a way that opens you up to risk if you tried to strike them on the ground. RE4R’s RNG, meanwhile, is most apparent in the way it approaches enemy staggers, and while it’s not something i’ll address too much since you’ve read about it everywhere else, it’s clearly a thorny inclusion which appears to be influenced by, at a minimum, the focus of your aiming reticule, the damage value of your weapon, the enemy’s health pool, and dynamic difficulty considerations which are holdovers from the previous two remakes in this new chronology. we might never know exactly how it’s calculated, but its effect on the game at a macro and micro level is easily observable and will make or break the game for some.
the point is no challenge in the original comes across as repetitious the way it so often does in RE4R and what’s frustrating is that there are moments which offer compelling grounds for expansion but which are rarely capitalized on. red cultists in the original are simply hardier and more physically resistant enemies, which is a misfire, but the remake reinterprets these enemies as summoners who can outright conjure plagas eruptions. it’s a frankly brilliant idea, so it’s shocking that it’s only leaned into a handful of times, two of which are seemingly explicitly designed to be skipped for speedrunning purposes. it’s the kind of change that could really serve to flesh out this game’s identity much further, and it feels wasteful to not consider the ways in which this type of enemy can add a layer of decision-making to its combat design.
there’s no discussion of RE4R without a discussion of the knife (which i mostly think is appropriately satisfying if entirely boring), but rather than exhaustively assess RE4R’s knife or semantically compare knife usage between games, let’s change gears for a second here and just consider the knife in the original. the knife can deflect projectiles, interrupt enemy advances, set up contextual attacks, strike grounded enemies, crumple them – anything that a handgun can do, a knife can do at close range and without wasting ammunition. it’s the ol’ reliable, a fundamentally ‘safe’ option with an appropriately attached high degree of risk. given its newfound metered dependency in the remake, your safe option isn’t the knife anymore – it’s actually the bolt thrower. with its negation of aiming reticule focus requirements, ranged approach which shields you from close-quarters damage, silent nature (a veritable rarity in this title), semi-consistent staggers at the cost of slow firing speed and loading speed, and nigh endlessly retrievable ammo, the bolt thrower is, if anything, a safer option than the knife ever was in the original. deploy it carefully and meticulously, and the most risk you’ll ever be at is if you’re intentionally firing bolts into the ether; they’ve even programmed it in such a way that you’ll often be able to retrieve it from difficult to reach places should you miss.
in addition, you might consider the game’s bolt thrower to be evidence of RE4R’s interrogation and consideration of the lineage of titles which the original inspired – and i do sincerely hope it’s a cheeky homage to the agony crossbow – but it’s also a lesson in poor adaptation. a signature weapon from the evil within 1 & 2, the lynchpin the agony crossbow rests on in the original game is a crafting system dedicated entirely to its output, giving its litany of options distinct value and decision-making potential while reserving its use for player discretion. the second game dilutes this by more broadly allowing you to craft other types of ammunition in addition to bolts, which is the trap upon which RE4R is similarly founded with its crafting system. the system in and of itself is already mostly a needless addition without much interesting balancing relevance, but there's a smaller problem specifically in relation to the bolt thrower - on replays with a more comprehensive view towards where and when your knife could break in relation to its usage and the positioning of merchants, it’s all but certain you’ll be reserving kitchen and boot knifes almost exclusively for the crafting of bolts. it’s a question which at every turn mostly answers itself. the mines which attach to the bolts are interesting since they can be positioned in fun ways with foreknowledge and they also explicitly signal you’ll lose a bolt, but for the most part it’s a safe resource you can be sure you’ll never lose sight of, which is notable if only because it seems to be the opposite of what this game intends to go for. with an eye for long-term planning in relation to bolt usage and knife usage, it’s almost unbelievable how sections of the game i had really struggled with on my first playthrough of hardcore (largely spent surviving minute to minute with shells and rifle ammunition being luxuries) became almost trivial on a second go of it. despite reaching a high level of proficiency in the original, it’s telling that i still never approach things the same conservative way that i often would in RE4R.
in some ways, metered knife dependency the way RE4R approaches it might be the wrong question to be asking. after all there’s nothing stopping players from running away from engagements to seek repairs most of the time if they were so inclined, and there’s precious few chokepoints that make errant knife usage legitimately hazardous. there’s another version of RE4 out there that’s a bit different – it’s called dmc1 – and what’s notable about it is that it remains one of the strongest instances of meter dependency you could reasonably conceptualize in a game. devil trigger is an important resource that you need to tap into – you can build it only by engaging with the combat system, and it allows for a lot of freedom in battles while being tightly designed to prevent abuse, making resource management an ever-present consideration. it was also seemingly designed with a view for a long-term playthrough, perhaps with the intention of allowing players to turn to macro strategy. it’s tempting to ascribe the same quality to RE4R as well, but with every workaround that’s currently in place – whether it’s foreknowledge of merchants, the ability to return to them quickly in certain cases, or kitchen knives/boot knives which will conspicuously be more present in enemy drops thanks to extremely gracious dynamic difficulty if your knife is close to breaking – it seems more clear that it’s intended to act as a measure to get people panicking as a result of the jams they’d enter in their first playthrough while introducing a very slight layer of decision-making. it’s questionable how true this is – after all, every prompt where you could use a knife is very explicitly signaled, which is a distinct contrast from the purpose of something like fuel in REmake or matches in the evil within 1 – but i suppose it’d get people into the groove nonetheless. but if only there was some way to introduce meter dependency to discourage certain actions and reinforce careful thought in a way that was truly interlinked with the game’s mechanics without handing out this many get-out-of-jail-free cards…
ahem, comparisons to resident evil 6 have run amok since the release of the demo and to be sure, this is the only resident evil game since to squarely address action game mechanics, but ironically (and perhaps controversially) most of the comparisons reflect on RE4R poorly. despite its disorganized presentation and severely unsystematic approach, resident evil 6 is still one of the last capcom action games to anchor itself on player agency, and it has an enemy suite which is designed to match this. they're legible in their behaviour and they're consistent in how you can affect them. the game's most compelling qualities might be relegated to side content in its fantastic mercenaries mode versus the vulgar bombast presented in its campaign, but even those mercenaries scenarios are fledgling score attack exercises with legitimate thought given to the waves of enemies converging on your location. mess around a bit and you’ll find a game teeming with an onslaught of strong enemy types which is at no point at risk of illegibility, in which the effect your actions can have on enemies is always consistent, in which enemies still adhere to more classical ideas of encounter design, and in which the resource management imposed by stamina (versus the knife) yields just as many meaningful decisions on a moment to moment basis with similar consequences for misuse without throttling the strongest aspects of the game or precluding the player from engaging on those terms. the game is, almost to a fault, an intentionally spearheaded evolution of principles which are enshrined by both the original re4 and re5 – it’s fundamentally the same type of game. RE4R, meanwhile, belongs to a different caste of games in this regard by eschewing clarity and consistency for a middle ground which neither matches the deliberate rhythms of the original nor the dizzying highs of re6’s combat systems.
if i had to pick a favourite element of RE4R, it would be everything to do with luis, but if i have to choose something else i’d have to pick something which i haven’t seen much discussion of yet – the treasure economy. or at least it would be in theory, because regrettably and frustratingly, it’s still emblematic of a lot of the game’s issues. in the original game, treasure becomes an afterthought on subsequent playthroughs – you know where it is and you attempt to maximize the benefits you’ll reap by virtue of your patience, or you don’t bother and you forego the PTAs. seeing a fitting grounds for expansion, RE4R opts to introduce more layers to treasures – now, the way gems are laid in treasures can be optimized to provide higher payouts depending on the way you’ve combined gems, but it could take even longer to put together. this, combined with a lower turnout on PTAs in hardcore, makes for a tantalizing risk/reward economy – you’re always just on the verge of upgrades, and the treasures are massive boons, but if you’re patient you might be able to reach an even greater payday. the issue is that for all the touches of inconsistency present in the game, treasure is once again consistent for some reason. once you know where things are located on playthrough 1, you’ll know where they’re located on playthrough 2 – why include the gem payout table at all if people are going to go through the same rhythms again so they can optimize their payouts? if they had kept a system in which the treasures were consistent, but the gems were randomized across playthroughs, this would have been a wonderful system which i think would have served as an intelligent expansion of the original’s tenets because it would have kept players constantly thinking. further harming this is the fact that treasures are easier to find than ever, and the spinel trading system is subject to a lot of the same considerations which mostly leave something to be desired in spite of how strong the working concept is.
RE4R is not a bad game, but it’s a frustratingly risk averse one – we’re talking about a game whose hallmarks include attache case tetris and they have decided to include an auto-organizer at the click of a button. its best qualities are rehashes of either the game it’s based on or of contemporary third person-shooters that still arguably retain more to unpack and think about (the evil within 2, dead space 2, debatably the last of us). it’s a shock to the system to play a modern TPS that isn’t meandering in pace or languidly focused on some misguided appropriation of cinematic expression to its detriment, but even RE4R’s slower-paced moments – total anathema to the game it’s in conversation with – still present SOMETHING different that sticks out in my memory, some kind of hook to latch onto. there’s a late game section which uncharacteristically wrests control from your grasp and forces you to march forward which, for a few moments, taps into a new idea which the game could have called its own if it had the gumption. instead it opted to pay homage to the original's action game legacy - it's not the wrong decision per se, but without that substantive design backing it up, i'm not certain it was the right one.
- admittedly great soundtrack though, not exactly an aesthetic quality of the original that shone.
- love the new merchant
- narratively it's tonally confused but there are a few moments that make me think they're a little in on the joke. i'd submit it's not quite as self-serious as you'd expect from one of these remakes but that doesn't mean it has as much fun with the source material as you'd like. the villains are charisma voids here since they don't show up to talk their shit ever and it's telling that they dumped like half of salazar's most iconic lines into his boss fight since he had no other opportunity to reference them. come on guys, do something new, even re3make abandoned the most iconic line from the original game because it was the right thing to do.
- environments look great from time to time, enemies...much less so. the artist who likes object heads and sharp teeth got their hands on re4, now just you wait and see what he does with re5
- oh yeah they're remaking re5, no question about it. funniest decision of all time. im willing to betray all my principles on remakes to see that. at this point im just along for the ride, they haven't put out a resident evil game i've really liked in a long while.
- there's an interesting wrinkle in this game's narrative - it's this newly introduced thread about the capacity people have for change, which i think is a somewhat fitting idea given the parasite motif, but all the strongest changes are basically just reserved for luis and ashley and no one else gets anything neat. not sure where they were going with this ultimately.
- what's up with the minecart section in this. even re6 has a traditional minecart section and that game also has free movement so don't bother trying to say they needed to script it here
- the thing i was really looking for here was some REmake level thread which justified its existence - something that showed they gave a lot of thought to the original game's mechanics and intended to evolve it while providing a fundamentally different experience. REmake is very much a Side B to the original RE1's Side A - you won't get value from it without understanding the original title it's in conversation with. regrettably, this was not the case and RE4R's remixes of the original game's content are much more pedestrian and conventional.
- good on them for making krauser a boss fight this time and i enjoy the krauser encounters in the original
- i'm really underselling how much i enjoyed luis in this game
- separate ways dlc...zzz...

Absolutely aghast that a 18GB demo can leave me feeling absolutely nothing while all 296 episodes of Hamtaro fit in half the space.

(Stomping my feet and clapping my hands in rhythm)

This is my Come and See (1985).

We talk a lot of shit here, but the tall white lady...
Hear me out...