In 2023, there won't be a safer full-price purchase than the Resident Evil 4 remake. With the 2005 original still judged to be one of the best games of all time, it's extremely difficult to see how a PS5, PS4 modernisation could go pear-shaped. A recent Hands On session at Capcom's UK headquarters revealed to us that almost everything you remember from the PS2 classic is back — but better than ever. Resident Evil 4 is bigger and better; there's so much more to it, expanding on what was already there. We came away even more confident it'll be the 10/10 experience everyone is hoping for.

Our appointment gave us access to the game's famous opening sequence, from when Leon S. Kennedy meets his first Ganado through to the welcome chimes of the village's church bell. "Where's everyone going? Bingo?" he still quips as the late title card appears. That memorable fight for survival is even more intense in the remake, but you will already be on edge long before then.

There's so much more to see and do on the path to the Spanish village, which in the original only took a few minutes to reach. For example, the very first house Leon enters — where he asks a local if they recognise Ashley from a picture — is now maybe triple the size and given new meaning. It's a hunter's lodge in the PS5, PS4 remake, with a bedroom and a basement! You could imagine the Ganado actually living there now instead of wandering upstairs to find just a hallway and some handgun ammo placed on a dresser. Leon still retains his point of exit, though: jumping out the window.

However, that first residence reveals more. The Las Plagas parasite is being teased much earlier in the remake, with the first enemy joining you in the basement of the house with tentacles sprouting out of their neck having already been killed once. Additionally, the interactions you have with Hunnigan over the radio have been replaced with full cutscenes that show her working back at base. What was a static image with voiceover in the original has been turned into a full sequence 18 years later.

The more generic sheds and shacks that follow prove just as important: Leon's flashy melee moves are back, and used alongside the knife, you can get creative with combos — perfect for the few combatants that stand between you and the main village encounter. A new mechanic allows you to parry the thrusts and swipes of their farming equipment by timing a knife attack just before their attack lands. This stuns enemies and allows you to follow up with brutal kicks to the head.

Items are sourced along the way from the usual barrels, which reveals the crafting system from more recent Resident Evil titles has been implemented into RE4. As well as picking up standalone ammo and herbs, you can also combine gunpowder in your inventory to create more bullets. Speaking of which, the famed inventory management mechanic turned minigame is back! The remake even turns the Attache Case into a 3D model which you can rotate at will — if you weren't already convinced this will be a 10/10 game, you are now.

Then you reach the village itself and all hell breaks loose. It's always been an intense encounter against overwhelming odds, but Resident Evil 4 kicks things into overdrive. While the shotgun, hand grenades, ammo, and herbs are all in the same places you remember, it's no exaggeration to say the enemies have been dialled up to 11 for a fight that descends into utter chaos. Crowding around you and holding you in place so others can thrust axes into your flesh, these villagers have a chip on their shoulder — they're ruthless and incredibly aggressive.

Of course, the famous chainsaw enemy (do we still not have an official name for this guy?) then shows up a few minutes into the encounter to really test your survivability. It's here where our demo really took a turn: we managed to set him and the cow on fire, which carried over into a cutscene where the masked madman cuts down part of a house to limit your exits. It's disorder of the absolute best kind; the sort where memories are made that live beyond the credits of the game.

But no sooner has the chaos been unleashed does the church bell chime, calling an end to the fight and the conclusion of our demo. Capcom has already done a wonderful job with its remakes in the past couple of years, but Resident Evil 4 is really shaping up to be its magnum opus all over again. This is that same masterpiece of a game but with so much more to see and do: more areas, more lore and files. We have never come away from a preview more certain a game will deliver. Resident Evil 4 is going to be outstanding.

Resident Evil 4 releases for PS5 and PS4 on 24th March 2023. How excited are you about the remake? Share all your thoughts in the comments below.

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