The Resident Evil 4 remake isn’t a one-to-one clone—it’s a sharper copy, with gameplay tweaks, dialogue changes, and new voice actors, including Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City actress Lily Gao reprising her role as red dress assassin Ada Wong.
I’ve been enjoying what I’ve found to be a well-oiled PS5 thriller, but I’m always up for honest criticisms, even with a hater’s touch. Unfortunately, most of what RE4 has been getting aren’t that, but byproducts of people getting mad they didn’t get what they want—merciless review bombs criticizing Gao’s performance and the remake’s supposed “woke” “censorship,” which translates to the removal of upskirt glances and some suggestive dialogue.
I was surprised by the blowback to Gao’s acting in particular, which I thought sounded natural, self-possessed and a little sarcastic, both qualities that I felt matched Ada Wong’s high capability (her abs ripple beneath her sweater dress!) individualism.
She doesn’t sound as sensual as she once did, or as tantalizingly “campy,” The Gamer criticizes in a recent article, but regardless of your preference, her performance wasn’t worth the ruthlessness fans have unleashed.
In response to their aggression, Gao, the first Asian actor to voice Ada in an English version of a Resident Evil game, seemed to delete most of her Instagram aside from a post describing “the role of privilege” to white Americans. On April 10, she updated her Instagram with a post responding to harassment:
Being the first Asian actor to portray Ada in the Resident Evil video games is an honour, and I will forever be grateful to our producer and director, for making the decision on authentic representation. It’s unfortunate that with the game’s release, also came the all too familiar feeling of ‘I don’t belong’. While criticism is expected, it’s not the first time an actor of colour faces racist and sexist harassment, for simply participating. Inauthentic casting perpetuates an unhealthy image that further dehumanizes the community they seek to reflect. It is time we stop only capitalizing on the sexualized, eroticized, and mysterious Asian woman, and make space to honour every kind of Asian woman. My Ada is a survivor. She is kind, just, intelligent, and funny. She is unpredictable, resilient, and absolutely not a stereotype.
Gao did not respond to Kotaku’s request for comment in time for publication.
But fans have had over a week to let their bad thoughts percolate, and so they had more to shriek about than Ada’s voice acting (though it continued to upset them too). For your convenience, here is a brief list of the most popular reasons why Metacritic users are slapping RE4 with fours, threes, and proud, yawning zeroes, according to the users themselves:
- “bad voice acting”
- “Lily Gao is the worse [sic] Voice actor to ever voice a character. What the hell is wrong with you capcom”
- “Humor is gone. [...] It’s even woke in areas.”
- “cringe, and the story was fun back in 2005, now is ridiculous.”
- “Ashley’s behavioral changes from the original to the remake, have made the latter less enjoyable.”
Resident Evil 4’s supposedly “woke” soundtrack
Things do seem to be brightening, though—the review bombs seem to have abated, and RE4 now has a “mixed” user score on Metacritic, settled at a solid 7.0, up from the 4.8 it was at this weekend.
In response, some people have taken their meltdowns elsewhere, including, enigmatically, to the Steam discussion sections for other games.
“Is this game woke?” a March 31 discussion post for the indie horror game Dredge asks. “Between Dead Space’s woke bathrooms, Hogwarts Legacy’s woke genders, and RE4's woke soundtrack I’m starting to doubt if I’ll be able to play any new games this year…”
I know, reading that sentence does feel like receiving a non-surgical lobotomy. But if you were wondering just what the hell “woke” soundtrack might even mean, pop culture writer Tauriq Moosa ventured on Twitter that it likely refers to music “that has elements from non-white countries” or is “performed by women.” Sometimes I forget how infrequently evil gamers go outside, but moments like this remind me.
Have you ever spoken to a human woman without crying before?
If you ask the evil gamers themselves, they don’t need the sun, a glass of water, or a therapist. They are crusaders against censorship, rallying for the purity of video games.
A noble cause. Or it would be, except “censorship,” in this case, refers to a maniacal need to see a sliver of sidekick Ashley Graham’s underwear at 57 FPS and hear protagonist Leon scoff and say something sexist, two elements Capcom had already removed in 2021 for its VR version of RE4.
Two years was not enough time for nerds—whom I like imagining as a troupe of Troll dolls that got stuck behind a washing machine—to mourn the loss of 45-FPS video game underwear and unfunny dialogue.
It also hasn’t been enough time for them to realize that, if they need to see 30-FPS underwear that bad, they can play the original version of the game on modern consoles, or that—and this is a real pro gamer tip—they can see real underwear in real life if they tried being a normal human being and bathing regularly.
Update 4/10/2023, 10:30 a.m. ET: Article updated to include actress Lily Gao’s statement.