Remakes, adaptations, reimaginings, reboots, they’re all tricky business. And with a game as celebrated as Resident Evil 4 next up on the remake meat grinder of modern video games, you might be curious as to what’s gonna get left on the cutting room floor. Well, a recent interview with the game’s director reveals that the RE4 remake aims to modernize a few things, including a change to a key melee weapon, but it’s also aiming to hang on to the stranger side of the game that many of us know and love, just with a few tweaks.
Resident Evil 4 first hit the beloved purple box known as the GameCube shortly after the turn of the century. The game modernized more than a few of the franchise’s elements, tossing out the older “tank” controls and fixed camera perspectives of the series in favor of something we take for granted today: Over-the-shoulder third person action. It also added quick-time events (QTEs): rigid moments of gameplay where the player simply mashes a button (or combination of buttons) to perform various actions. While QTEs may have been more tolerable back in 2005, years of the technique appearing in other games have long exhausted many players’ patience for it. But although RE4 changed up the gameplay, it still hung onto Resident Evil’s sometimes more goofy elements: Strange antagonists, unexpected fighting moves, and…unique choices of dialogue. Some may feel that these elements bring some charm to the game, while to others, they may seem clunky and out of place. The remake offered the developers a chance for some revision. So, how much has changed?
One alteration is the reduction of QTEs, which we first learned about last year. If you have a solid memory of the original game, news of diminished QTEs might have you wondering: What about the boss fight that’s basically a giant QTE? According to a recent interview the game’s director did with Vice, the fight in question, a knife brawl with soldier Jack Krauser, is now “more of an active fight” and as a result, it’s changing up how that knife functions.
Resident Evil 4’s director, Yashuro Anpo, said that “the knife evolved into something that wasn’t purely a last resort.” Though a potent weapon, that was how it mostly worked in the original. Out of ammo? Time to get dirty and desperate with a blade. The remake will now allow the player to use the knife to defend against incoming attacks when parrying them at the right moment. That’s a modern twist, but it’s also something that sounds very inline with what made Resident Evil 4 such a compelling experience back in the day.
Back in 2005, defending yourself against enemies was a key tactic of RE4. And with the newer camera perspective, you could effectively aim and shoot weapons out of enemy hands. That might not seem so fancy these days, but back in 2005 that level of intricate interaction with in-game items was pretty notable. A similar example might’ve been 2001’s Metal Gear Solid 2, where the player could shoot enemy walkie-talkies to prevent them from alerting other hostiles. Getting some more utility with the RE4 remake’s updated knife sounds like a nice modern revision on a core component of the game.
And though the core gameplay is seeing some changes, the remake is still hanging on to the stranger side of its world. As Anpo told Vice, the devs are prioritizing “the memory of what people had when playing the original game back then.” That includes many of the game’s sillier melee moves, but it also includes preserving a peculiar antagonist: Ramon Salazar.
While Salazar loses both his hat and his disturbingly childlike quality, now looking a good bit older, he’s still pretty freakin’ weird. Anpo said that the team “had to look into how [Salazar] fit into the major balance of the game itself.” That balance prioritized his anachronistic “aristocratic design,” but it tossed the hat as, according to producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, the devs felt “it didn’t really fit into the big structure.”
Oh, and apparently people “don’t wear [hats] indoors,” according to Hirabayashi. I know of at least a few people who’d disagree on that point, but it’s still nice to see the remake is aiming to reframe its unique identity without sacrificing it entirely.
The Resident Evil 4 remake launches on March 24 for Xbox Series consoles, PS4, PS5, and Windows.