Will RE4 End Resident Evil’s Renaissance?

When Resident Evil 7 launched in 2017, it kicked off a true renaissance for the series. Resident Evil 6 is considered a low-point for the series, despite its impressive sales figures, and it was followed by a half-decade quiet period for the franchise. But Resident Evil 7 shook off the cobwebs and reinvented the game, and every year since then there’s been something good, if not great, in the Resident Evil universe. RE7’s DLC, the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3, and Resident Evil Village were all released at a steady pace and remarkably well received. This five-year stretch has built up so much goodwill for Resident Evil that duds like Resistance and Re:Verse couldn’t harm its reputation. But now as we approach the launch of the Resident Evil 4 remake, one wonders if Capcom will be able to keep this momentum up.

Resident Evil 4 is the second-best-selling game in the series and is often cited as the best one. Like RE7, Resident Evil 4 reinvented things by trading the slow-pace and static camera angles for a third-person perspective and a greater emphasis on action. RE5 and RE6 continued in this direction (perhaps too far, some might argue) and recently we’ve seen a return to this style, both in the RE2 and RE3 remakes and Village’s DLC, Shadows of Rose. Based on what we’ve seen so far, the remake looks like a faithful reimagining of the classic that accentuates the horror elements while further modernizing the controls. After multiple playthroughs of the other Resident Evil remakes, I can only assume RE4 Remake will deliver exactly what fans want. The question is, where do you go from here?

It’s possible we’ll get a Resident Evil 5 remake in the next couple of years – it is the best-selling Resident Evil game ever after all. You don’t see many RE fans defending it though, at least compared to the other entries, and there seems to be a consensus that the series started going downhill with RE5. Between its goofy action-movie tone, frustrating AI, and controversial themes, Resident Evil 5 might be best left alone. When it comes to Resident Evil 6, most fans would agree it should never be remastered, remade, or even discussed ever again – it’s just that bad. RE4 is likely the end of the remake train for Resident Evil.

We’ve been spoiled by annual Resident Evil installments, and we can’t expect Capcom to keep up that pace or level of quality forever. It’s likely the series will transition to a more traditional development structure that releases sequels every few years going forward. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of confidence in the continuing series at this point either. Many were impressed by Resident Evil Village, but I saw it as the beginning of a backslide away from survival horror and towards campy action, not unlike the tonal change between Resident Evil 4 and 5. I wasn’t at all impressed with Shadows of Rose, which gave up on first-person completely and traded tension for superpowers and a weak retread through Village’s set pieces. If Rose is the future of the series, I’m afraid it has already lost the spark that RE7 brought back.

There’s an ebb and flow to Resident Evil, and all signs are pointing to another transition. This might have been the best era for the series, but with the launch of Resident Evil 4 Remake, we might be headed for a serious downturn.

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