The other week I played a short demo for the upcoming Resident Evil 4 remake. You’d think being lucky enough to actually play the damn thing would have numbed my hyper-fixation about it a touch, but, nope. I’m afraid not. It turns out the guy who owns eight physical copies (and four digital) of the original Resident Evil 4 is still pretty excited to play the remake. Who ever could have predicted this?
The day my preview went live, Capcom showed off a couple of additional bits as part of a hefty Resident Evil showcase. Alongside a fresh story trailer the company also discussed the various gubbins you’ll receive if you fork out for the game's special edition as well as a short gameplay demonstration. Surprising no one, I’ve watched these clips so many times I now have a load of thoughts that are not only completely useless but are taking up vital brain space I usually reserve for things like pin numbers and dates. If I don’t vent all of this garbage out of my skull there’s a chance I’ll forget my Mam’s birthday again, something that genuinely happened once when I was 17 and I haven’t stopped feeling guilty about it since. I bought her a plant from a Tesco Express three days later thinking that would help. It didn’t. This event haunts me more than any Resident Evil jumpscare ever could.
Anyway. Here’s a bunch of theories, easter eggs and other bits and pieces I spotted from Resident Evil 4’s most recent showing because I have brain worms.
Oh, and spoilers. Obviously.
Smokin' Sexy Styles
Pick up the deluxe edition of RE4R and you’ll be treated to a couple of extra bits and pieces. Alongside some exclusive weapons and the ability to swap out the game’s soundtrack for its original incarnation (I really wish these remakes would stop locking this behind paid DLC, but no matter) you also get four additional costumes for our Leon. Two are whatever. Fine. “Casual” sees Leon dressed in an RPD windbreaker whereas “Hero” wraps Kennedy up in generic adventurer's garb. The best of the bunch are Romantic and Villain, both of which bear a striking resemblance to characters from Capcom’s Devil May Cry series.
On the surface, it’s pretty neat that Resi 4 will allow players to cosplay as both Dante and V. But as a reference, it’s actually a bit cooler than that? Resident Evil 4 began life under the stewardship of Resident Evil 2 director Hideki Kamiya who wanted to take the series in a drastically different, more action-focused direction. It became clear very quickly that this bold new direction no longer resembled Resident Evil in any way, and so the project was re-established as a new IP called Devil May Cry instead. With the anticipated next installment in Capcom's horror franchise now lacking a director, series creator Shinji Mikami returned to create the Resident Evil 4 we know and love today. The inclusion of these costumes, the Dante one especially, feels like a particularly knowing nod to the game’s origins.
We’ve yet to see Ashley’s alternate look for the Romantic pack, but I’d put good money on it being based on either Lady or Trish.
Sticking with this extra DLC pack for a second, it also includes a pair of sunglasses categorised as an “accessory”. This implies we can equip specific cosmetics, right? And the fact the sunglasses are called “Sunglasses - Sporty” suggests that there will be multiple pairs of sunglasses to unlock or discover, correct? Look, I don’t want to sound dramatic, but if I can dress Leon up I might have to declare this GOTY 2023 already. I can’t cope.
Strike a pose
As we linger on the Capcom logo for a moment at the start of the story trailer, Leon lifts his pistol up in the same way he holds it in the original game. This is an idle animation, I guess? I like it a lot. Next!
This all sounds familiar
Further proving I have brain rot, the crows use the same audio clip they did in the original game. Also, when Leon contacts Hunnigan, the noise that signifies the call connecting is also the same as it was in Resident Evil 4. It’s a shame Leon’s futuristic handheld radio / video conferencing device has been replaced with a far more boring earpiece, though. Modern technology is way more bland and uninteresting than we thought it would be in the mid-2000s.
Ashley and Leon are like, super infected
As was the case in the original game, both Ashley and Leon appear to become infected by Plagas at some point during the story. However! It looks like Ashley, who becomes infected before Leon even arrives, could be an actual threat to the player this time around. At one point in the trailer, we see her covered in jet-black veins, reluctantly pointing a gun towards (I assume) Leon. Leon attacked Ada in the original game while under the parasite’s influence, so it makes sense that Ashley would be capable of doing the same. I’d quite like to see this folded into actual gameplay, somehow. Perhaps as some kind of pseudo-boss encounter, where Leon has to find a way of subduing the effects of the parasite without hurting Ashley? I guess I just want to see a more interesting dynamic between the pair that doesn’t boil down to Leon telling Ashley to hide in a bunch of rubbish bins before she’s inevitably kidnapped again.
I’m also convinced that Leon’s infection will be treated a little differently here than it was before. Earlier this year I made an entire video about how I reckoned Capcom would approach the remake (you can watch it above). In it, I speculate that the team may revisit the original build of Resident Evil 4 as inspiration for the game’s castle section. The castle is one of the few elements of the game that arguably overstays its welcome. Perhaps it could be improved by making Leon hallucinate throughout his time there as a result of his infection. Wouldn’t it be cool if the looping level design of the castle, the invisible insects in its basement, and the goddamned giant statue of an immortal victorian child that chases you through a cathedral were all the result of a little bug scratching at his brain? I think it would be.
The dog isn’t dead. Calm down.
Towards the start of Resident Evil 4, Leon stumbles across a wolf struggling to free itself from a bear trap. If you approach the dog you’re given a choice to let it go. If you do so, the dog will rock up a bit later on to help you with your fight against the monstrous El Gigante. In 2005 this was considered an evolution of player interaction, simply because you could press a button to free the dog rather than immediately shooting it in the skull, something we were more accustomed to doing during the PS2 era.
However, this recent gameplay demonstration of RE4 remake showed a familiar-looking dog lying dead outside of a shack, its leg stuck within a bear trap. Naturally, folks on Twitter have collectively lost their minds, presuming that this must mean that nasty old Capcom have killed off the dog because of… I don’t know. Budgetary reasons or something.
Listen, this dog isn’t dead. Well. That specific dog is dead but listen. They’ve put the dead wolf in this trailer on purpose. Someone in a suit sent an email to one of the game’s developers that read “hey, I bet a load of fans of the original game will be upset if that dog is dead. can you toggle the bit of code from ‘alive’ to ‘dead’ for this trailer? then swap it back again before release? cheers x”. You’re all upset over a bit of marketing.
One of the strongest elements of these remakes is how much Capcom enjoys toying with the expectations of returning fans. The best example of this can be found in the remake of the original Resident Evil, where a setpiece involving zombie dogs jumping through a set of hallway windows doesn’t play out the same way it did in the PS1 version. This entire sequence is here just to psyche out anyone who thought they were prepared for whatever the game could throw at them. I’d be shocked if the dead dog, and a multitude of other elements that we’re still unaware of, isn’t Capcom simply pulling a familiar trick.
What the hell is a fish farm
Fans who fork out for the game’s collector’s edition will be treated to a lovely map of the village and its surrounding locations. There’s nothing hugely surprising on here - everything looks to be where it should - with the exception of “Fish Farm” which seems to be a new addition. What are we going to do during our time at the fish farm? Probably shoot some lads, I imagine. Maybe fight an infected Salmon. Who knows.
I guess it’s notable that the game’s final section, the island, is missing from this map but I’d imagine that’s purely due to a design decision rather than some kind of cryptic hint that this area has been removed. The island is located offshore, far away from where the game begins. You’d have to scale all this stuff down or make the map bigger to display it, I suppose?
I wouldn’t be hugely let down if the island was reduced or removed, though, to be honest. Is that a controversial statement? It just drags on a bit really, doesn’t it? I could do with shooting fewer fellas in gas masks, personally, but maybe that’s just me.
Osmund Saddler has some new pals
Big bad Osmund Saddler is potentially the one aspect of the game that has received the most rework. He seems slower and more menacing than before, and we see him surrounded by… I don’t even know how to describe them. Priests covered in doilies, I guess? Whatever they are, they’re new which is cool. I’d hazard a guess at some point they’ll explode into some kind of fucked up goo monster, which I’m sure will be very spooky and very gross.
I’m convinced 90% of this remake is going to be a 1-1 recreation of the original game
If there’s one main takeaway from that story trailer, it’s that by and large, this looks to be the exact same Resident Evil 4 we know and love, albeit shinier and more HD. There are a bunch of key moments from the original game that make an appearance, and to my eye look largely unchanged. As well as the more obvious ones (such as the village, the church, the castle etc.), here are a few others I spotted:
1) The cave painting at the very start of the trailer looks similar to the paintings uncovered by the Ganados in the mine as they excavate the plagas, implying this is still a location we’ll visit towards the final act of the game. Note that the figures in the painting are wearing masks that are identical to the ones now worn by the castle's monks. Perhaps in this version the Los Illuminados cult has existed for a while, rather than being created by Saddler in order to take control of the village?
2) Leon and Ashley run towards a dilapidated house during a rainstorm. Presumably, this is the same house Leon and Louis defend against waves of approaching Gandos?
3) We briefly see Del Lago, the creature that lurks in the lake. We also see Leon chilling in his little boat along with his harpoons, suggesting this boss battle will play out the same as it did in the original game. Apologies for the image quality, it was really hard to get a screengrab from the trailer that wasn't blurry. Or phallic. Soz.
4) Chief Mendez - the big cheese himself - appears twice. The first time in his human form (note his glass eye, which is still blue, unlike his remaining organic one which glows red as a result of his infection) and the second in his exploded mutant form, which is 99% spine.
I could go on, but I’ll spare you the misery. For every hint and easter-egg, though, there are many more questions that remain tantalisingly unanswered. What will the castle section look like? Is the island missing? What’s new? What’s been changed? What’s been removed?
Time will tell, is my frustrating answer to all those questions. But with the game’s March release date fast approaching, at least we won’t have to wait too long. In the meantime feel free to read my preview, and if you’re in a Resident Evil mood then do make sure to check out Katharine’s review of the recently released Shadow Of Rose DLC for Resident Evil Village.