December 6, 2023
With two weeks to go, Capcom have added a playable demo for the upcoming Resident Evil 4 remake available now. Here are our excited thoughts:

I’ll admit, I was cautious when they announced the Resident Evil 2 remake. But that came out, and it was incredible. I had my doubts on what they’d do to it, yet all the changes were fully justified for modern gaming. So when the fourth main game was announced for the remake treatment, the anticipation was at fever pitch.

Now, after a little reminiscing about it the other day, Capcom have dropped a demo for us. Dubbed “The Chainsaw Demo”, it lets players play a small portion of the opening part of the game. Namely the small village and yes, a man with a sack on his head and a bloody big piece of woodworking equipment.

With two weeks left to go, this demo will get players excited for more. Here are our first impressions on the demo, which we hope you’re looking forward to too.

Resident Evil 4

It’s Been Six Years…

A quick story recap, if you will permit: it’s been six years since Leon’s fateful first day in Raccoon City. The cutscene expands on Leon’s time in those years, which I won’t spoil, but it does answer a few things.

Namely a bit more fleshing out of his relationship with Krauser, who didn’t get much character building in the original. Other than that, the demo skips ahead to Leon hopping out of the police 4×4 in the village. Presumably Capcom have added a bit more that they don’t want to give away too early.

A Sinister Plot

Whereas in the original Leon upsets the first seemingly random local he sees, this time there’s more establishing threads to it.

This time around, the “random villager’s house” that Leon stumbles into isn’t that innocent. There’s an entire wall dedicated to… something going on. Leon doesn’t know straight away, but nor are we meant to either. Hunnigan’s still on the end of the line though, fleshed out in cutscene video this time rather than be stuck behind a small intercoms screen.

Resident Evil 4

Evil Looks Good

Anyway, enough about story teases, let’s talk how good this looks. Powered again by the RE Engine (which, weirdly, stands for Reach for the Moon Engine), Resident Evil 4 looks absolutely gorgeous on the PlayStation 5.

Moonlight seeps through gaps in trees and bushes, leading Leon on a grim path toward the village. Buildings look ramshackle, merely inhabited rather than lived in.

Leon looks… not so much older, but definitely a man hardened by what he’s seen and his subsequent training. But he is faithfully still decked out in his fur-lined leather jacket and foppy hair. I think there would have been riots if they’ve changed him up too much.

Looking Over Your Shoulder

Gameplay hasn’t been radically changed, thankfully. It’s still over the shoulder, like the original, with a few modernisations brought in from the remakes of 2 and Nemesis.

This time Leon isn’t static, following on from the above examples of aiming and moving. Aiming is pretty snappy, as well as drawing your knife in a pinch. Additionally, the knife can be used to parry attacks too, which is pretty nifty when an axe is swinging towards you. Time it right and it’ll sometimes take the weapon-swinging limb off too.

Another neat yet subtle addition is that Leon will chamber a round in his weapon, meaning you’ll have a full clip and a shot primed. It doesn’t affect ammo or give you a “free” bullet, it’s just a neat feature.

Resident Evil 4

Enemies still react to where they’re shot, adding that tactical element of kneecapping a foe before running up and booting them. The Las Plagas infection is already on display here, meaning that a broken neck won’t always stop a raging European.

Leon’s trusty knife, handed to him by Marvin in RE2… breaks. Personally, not a fan of the breakable knives system, but I can see why it adds an element of tension to combat rather than having an invincible knife for infinite counters and whatnot.

Also, keep an eye out on a fallen enemy. If they start twitching, get in there and finish them off, or they resurrect akin to Crimson Heads from the first remake.

Un Forastero!

As it’s a relatively short demo (thankfully without a timer), the main point here is the massive brawl in the village. It’s set out the same: Leon sneaks in, whips out his binoculars and surveys the carnage. What is new is another pathway that allows him to sneak around.

There’s a mild element of stealth, as well as a sneak attack on unsuspecting enemies. But before long, one will clock you and that’s when it all kicks off. If you remember the original fondly then yes, it’s just as mental an opening as it used to be.

Limited ammo, ducking and dodging, axes to the back of the head, the lot. There’s a new addition to the tower, that I won’t spoil, and yes, the house with the shotgun still triggers Mr. Chainsaw Man early too.

But if you don’t, and are holding your ground, the inevitable will happen. A few minutes into Leon’s rampage, the man with a sack on his head and a whacking big ‘saw makes his entrance.

It’s just as tense as it was, even if moving and aiming make things slightly easier. He can and will kill you in a spectacular fashion, if you’re caught. Keep on your toes, grab ammo when you can and if you’ve got grenades, use them.

After a fashion, they will bugger off (and yes, Leon says that favourite line), ending the demo. Does it feel sparse and not enough? Yes.

But does it do exactly what a demo should: whet your appetite and make you crave the end product more? Absolutely, and we here at FGHQ are all abuzz for it. Well, I am, I know that much.

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