The Resident Evil series has had a resurgence in the last six or so years, despite the catastrophic failures of its Netflix adaptation and mediocre CGI films. After Resident Evil 6, the series was floundering and declining in popularity. But Capcom regained its footing by distancing itself from action, and returning to its survival horror roots with the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 7 (my own personal favourite in the series).
In 2019, it appeared that Capcom had perfected the art of the remake. Resident Evil 2 Remake brought the classic 1998 game to a modern audience with improved graphics and gameplay but the same tense atmosphere. The game has now sold over 10 million copies, outselling the original, and won ‘Ultimate Game of the Year’ at the 2019 Golden Joystick Awards.
Fans soon turned their attention to the Resident Evil 3 Remake, eagerly awaiting the return of the terrifying Nemesis enemy, rendered with updated technology for a greater fear-factor. Although the game looked fantastic in terms of graphics and character design, people were generally disappointed with its short length and cut content. It felt more like DLC than a separate game, and so the price point was not justified – especially compared to the quality of RE2R.
Capcom was able to recover from this wobble with the release of Resident Evil 8, a fantastic original entry in the series. There was no cut content, the duration was perfect, the setting and characters were memorable, and the gameplay was satisfying and balanced. The developers seemed to have found a good middle ground between survival horror and action. This restored fans’ confidence in future titles, but there was still some lingering anxiety over the most popular entry in the series: Resident Evil 4.
Capcom has a wealth of classic series’ to remake, and a loyal playerbase who will eat up their new releases
The much anticipated RE4 Remake was released very recently, on 24 March 2023. The original version was lauded as one of the greatest games of all time and still holds the top spot for many people, quoted as redefining videogames as a whole and building the foundation for modern gaming principles. When the remake was announced, it generated a lot of excitement and speculation. But the principal question on many hardcore fans’ minds was one of concern: will Capcom get it right?
We can breathe a sigh of relief, because it appears that Capcom has struck gold again. The remake is almost universally praised for its attention to detail and faithful recreation, while simultaneously innovating new mechanics (such as parrying) and developing the classic characters into being more plausible, animated, and likeable. They removed the uncomfortable, outdated sexism, and they even took the care to retain the corny jokes cracked regularly by the game’s protagonist, Leon. S. Kennedy – he keeps his dry sense of humour, but the developers take time to show how the events of RE2 affected him and his mental health.
Other developers are clearly taking inspiration and direction from Capcom’s approach to remakes. From the freshly released Dead Space and the recently announced Silent Hill 2, to Pokémon BDSP and Final Fantasy VII – remakes are in fashion. At this time, it seems that the formula for a successful remake is to take a leaf out of Capcom’s book. Narrowing their success down to a single element is difficult: one could cite their strong IP, in-house engine, monopoly over the survival horror genre, commitment to DLC, marketing, or attention to detail. In reality, it’s a combination of all these factors and more.
It’s safe to say that the Resident Evil series is doing very well at this time. With a solid reputation as giants of the videogame industry, Capcom has a wealth of classic series’ to remake, and a loyal playerbase who will eat up their new releases. We can only hope that they can sustain this dedication and creativity, because it doesn’t take much for companies to fall from grace. With the suggestion of DLC for the latest remake and hints of RE9 in the works, Resident Evil has a strong future.
Other companies are starting to take note, and investing money into renovating their classic titles for a nostalgic older audience and younger series newcomers. We have lots to look forward to.
Resident Evil 4 Remake is currently available for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.