Resident Evil 4 Remake
Resident Evil 4 Remake is a respectful re-imagining that greatly improves the enemy AI from the original game. Subtitles and captions make sure that no player misses a scare. However, the PC's clunky controls make combat difficult.
- Captions present
- Aim Assist with adjustable lock-on
- HUD customization available
- Optional colors for aiming UI
- Subtitle colors and sizes can be customized
- Non-functioning windowed mode
- Unintuitive puzzle controls
- Limited mouse sensitivity
Help Leon save the president’s daughter again in this faithful re-imagining of an old horror classic! Resident Evil 4 Remake is a third-person survival horror game developed and published by Capcom for PlayStation 4 and 5, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S. I’m reviewing the PC version of the game. This remake stays true to the original, while also adding new story elements, updated visuals, and stealth mechanics. More accessibility was brought to Resident Evil 4 this time around, but some aspects still need work.
Resident Evil 4 Remake (abbreviated RE4 Remake from here onward) uses an over-the-shoulder perspective with third-person shooting combat to fight hostile villagers infected with the “Las Plagas” parasite in rural Spain. Players get to control everyone’s favorite U.S operative, Leon S Kennedy, to save Ashley Graham, who has been kidnapped by the enigmatic cult Los Illuminados. When protecting Ashley, the player can choose to have her stay close to them or far away. Accommodating for the amount of enemies and different play styles.
Startup Menu and Accessibility Tab
Booting up the game, I noticed some initial settings that popped up on screen. Here I could choose different button icons, display language, and whether to turn on subtitles. From here was the title screen, which offered a full option menu that could be accessed for more in-depth customization, such as controls, camera, display, audio, and an individual Accessibility tab.
The accessibility menu has three different presets for players to choose from: Visual Accessibility, Audio Accessibility, and Motion sickness. These presets automatically turn on options that pertain to a certain type of disability. For instance, When choosing the Visual Accessibility preset, subtitles will be large and speaker names will be present from the beginning. RE4 Remake also made sure that each preset had helpful descriptions to let players know exactly what to expect and what options will be available to them.
Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
This remake put a bigger emphasis on the unsettling horror in the game by changing the way enemies behave and updating the soundtrack. Under the audio tab in the options menu, there are adjustable sliders for dialogue, background music, and sound effects. Interestingly, RE4 Remake also lets players adjust the menu volume and even ballistic impact volume. When it comes to support for deaf players and those hard of hearing, RE4 Remake has more options than I’ve seen in the entire franchise!
Not only are there three different subtitle sizes to choose from (small, medium, and large), but speaker names can also be turned on for added clarification. Different colors are available for subtitles and speaker names, so I changed the speaker name color to red to match the tone for my playthrough. When the opening cutscene first played, I could already see speaker names showcased in the recap of The Raccoon City incident. The developers even put (???) in place of names of the characters who had not been introduced yet, to make sure nothing is spoiled.
RE4 Remake made the infected villagers much scarier and more intelligent, so figuring out what movements and sounds triggered enemies became very important for me during my playthrough. I turned on captions to let me know when characters were speaking-off screen, when the church bell was distracting enemies, and when background noises exposed things like tripwires and timed explosives. When looking for Ashley in the village, it was hard to tell whether the sound of my gunshots or destroying a box would signal my imminent doom, but the captions let me know immediately when any villager was alerted to my presence.
Fighting In The Dark
Visually RE4 Remake is very dark, but there is a customizable brightness slider in the options menu. There isn’t a true colorblind option, though there is a way to change the color of the biosensor scope when aiming the sniper rifle.
I could also alter the aiming reticle color, as well as the laser sight color. Sometimes the aiming reticle would change when aimed at enemies or certain objects. This color can also be customized under “Sight Settings” in the display tab.
The HUD can sometimes get chaotic when large amounts of enemies are on screen. However, damage display can be customized and limits the amount of space this visual cue takes up on the game window. There are opacity presets for the HUD, each with varying degrees of strength. The HUD itself can also be completely turned off.
The Pitfalls of Controls
Unfortunately, the controls were the most frustrating aspect of the game for me. Mouse and keyboard controls can be customized, but some buttons are locked. For example, if scrolling up on the mouse wheel is the reload function. You can change that to Melee attack, but it’ll still reload every time.
Also, the mouse sensitivity is extremely limited, which makes movement far more cumbersome than it should be. Just trying to move the camera around takes a lot of me. I have heard that the control stick sensitivity is much more sensitive on consoles, but that doesn’t help PC players.
It seems that the game doesn’t have a proper windowed mode either. Both Windowed mode and Borderless Windowed mode lock the mouse to the game window. Even when I specifically turn it off from the options menu. This limited me to the pre-made controls since I couldn’t access my on-screen keyboard. It must be a different development team, because I’ve never had this issue playing a Resident Evil game.
On top of that, RE4 Remake doesn’t have streamlined controls for movement. There are individual buttons assigned for crouching, sprinting, aiming, melee attacks, vaulting over objects, and defending. Button prompts can be customized to hold down one button or tap repeatedly. Still, it’s a lot to manage, and for that, combat could prove difficult for disabled players.
The rigid control schemes bleed into the puzzle mechanics as well. Puzzles are very straightforward on a cognitive level (find a crank to open the gate, or locate an emblem for a specific slot on a door). However, The controls require way too much effort overall. Sometimes just rotating an object involves pressing four different directional buttons while holding down two other buttons. Ridiculous.
There was one timed puzzle early on in the game, which involved Leon retrieving his stolen gear before a gate slammed shut. This seems unnecessary considering the timed puzzle wasn’t even in the original game. There were several puzzles like this that actually required me to ask help from an able-bodied person to complete. I just couldn’t move fast enough.
Thankfully, RE4 Remake does have some helpful combat assistance. There are three different difficulty modes to choose from: Assisted, Standard, and Hardcore mode. Assisted mode is the easiest difficulty and allows for more ammo to be crafted. Regenerating health and aim assist is automatically turned on. I highly recommend this mode for disabled players with fine-motor skill impairments who are having trouble with the combat.
Some of the hostile villagers have a 2nd phase to their attack, where they become much faster and immediately hone in on the player. Turning on the aim assist in the options menu made fighting these types much easier. The developers took a much more nuanced approach to customizing the aim assist function. There was a slider available to adjust how much the aim assist locked on to enemies, as well as a “snap to” function which didn’t force me to only do body shots unlike previous games in the series.
When players finally rescue Ashley, they can control how she reacts and follows Leon. I could choose for Ashley to follow closely or fall back by pressing a button. For once, Ashley can actually help defend herself! Later on in the game, Ashley is able to wield a flame-like lamp to freeze enemies in their tracks. Ashley was also able to go up and down ladders without any assistance from me. This was a welcome improvement from being a glorified babysitter in the original game.
Resident Evil 4 Remake is a respectful re-imagining improving on the original’s accessibility. It greatly improves the enemy AI from the original game. Small changes to the story keep the experience feeling fresh. Subtitles and captions make sure that no player misses a scare. However, the PC’s clunky controls make combat difficult even with the addition of a comprehensive aim assist.