- Resident Evil 4 – Separate Ways redefines the original in meaningful ways.
- The changes to level design, combat, and enemy encounters make it stand out from the base game.
- The cut content that was missing in the base game of Resident Evil 4 has been integrated into Separate Ways.
- Ada’s side of the story provides important context for the overall narrative of Resident Evil 4.
Back in my opinion piece in April, I called the Resident Evil 4 remake a “celebration of the original.” It had some pretty big shoes to fill, and I was glad that it delivered on all ends, minus the cut content. The Separate Ways remake, on the other hand, did not have any legacy to live up to or footsteps to follow.
Regardless, there were some high expectations attached to it, not because it only had to improve the original DLC, but because it had to be as good as the Resident Evil 4 remake without feeling like a lazy asset flip. And I am glad to say again that not only Capcom matched my expectations for the Separate Ways DLC but also exceeded them.
The Another Way
I love the original Resident Evil 4 and liked playing as Ada Wong in the original. However, I couldn’t help but feel that something was off about that DLC. And that was mostly because most of the original Separate Ways DLC was a barebones expansion, paired with the Resident Evil 4 so that Capcom could sell the same game again on the PS2.
Aside from the last 2 chapters and the Saddler boss fight, most of the original Separate Ways was Resident Evil 4 but backward without any significant changes to encounter design. To top it off, the cutscenes in Ada’s side of the story were rendered at 480p even in the HD re-release. So, obviously, remaking something like that would’ve required a surmountable amount of effort because that kind of product would be unacceptable by today’s standards.
The Separate Ways remake is not only a complete overhaul of the original but also brings with it several new combat and gameplay changes that make it stand out on its own. Every change is made to make Ada feel like a separate character and not just a reskin of Leon with a new melee and running animation.
Combat & Level Design
Ada’s grapple hook was one of my favorite additions to the Separate Ways DLC. No longer do you have any need to climb every step and unlock every door while relying on the President’s daughter. Most of the level design on Ada’s side of the story is designed for stealth and fast traversal.
I can’t stress enough how happy it made me while playing the initial castle section and realizing how nicely the usage of stealth was integrated into its level design. I could take out almost all of the zealots without even alerting them once — a feat only a super-spy like Ada Wong would be capable of. But that is not to say Ada’s combat takes a hit for this.
While you still visit some of the locations you already did in the base game, the enemy encounter design and puzzles undergo a major overhaul, making all of it feel original and unique. One of my favorite areas was the garden maze, which felt more like a chase of cat and mouse instead of a classic survival horror section.
Grappling around and jumping over the once-invincible walls of the garden while hunting down the Red Monk to stop him from mutating others really showcased the amount of effort Capcom had poured into its level and encounter design while still reusing some of the locations from the base game.
Her grapple hook, which could only be used for traversal previously, is now fully integrated into her combat. Using it to quickly hit stunned ganados or tear off the shields of zealots never got old — something that required substantial effort on Leon’s side. Furthermore, Ada not only carries over all of her melee animations from the original DLC but also comes equipped with many new animations for her own.
Considering how most of these changes are tied to the grapple hook further highlights the importance of the grapple hook in video games. Every action game needs one of them, honestly.
The Cut Content Makes Its Return
In spite of how good the remake was, I still had my qualms with it, mostly because of the cut content, which included some of the most iconic sections of Resident Evil 4. Well, it turns out that Capcom saved most of that for the Separate Ways remake. The iconic elevator shootout, laser hallway, giant drill, and yes, even the U3 makes its return, and they are as good as I hoped they would be.
The giant drill is now a puzzle that needs to be completed within a given time, the laser hallway now has a concrete reason for being there, and U3 now mutates into a giant centipede for its second phase. These sections weren’t just there for the sake of it but have gone through enough changes to keep the element of surprise without diverting too much from the original.
While I can say a lot about the amount of cut content added and how many changes they have undergone, I want to dedicate this section to my favorite addition, the Pesanta boss fight. Now, for most, this boss fight is completely new and isn’t a reference to anything in the original because it isn’t. Pesanta boss fight is inspired by the hook man from the original Resident Evil 3.5 demo, which was then cut from the full release back in 2005.
Pesanta, unlike most Resident Evil 4 boss fights, isn’t some kind of abomination with ferocious attacks. It’s simply a tall-hooded monster covered in black robes that slowly chases Ada around a flame-covered arena while also gradually summoning his ghost clones.
What was really unique about this fight was how restricted Ada felt during this encounter. Ada is someone who can fly around and use the environment to her advantage, but the hallucinations caused by Pesanta take away her mobility, adding a new layer of challenge to this boss encounter.
Above, I mentioned how lazily the entire storyline of Separate Ways was put together in the original so that RE4 (2005) could be re-released for the PS2. There were parts with a clear disconnect between the gameplay and the cutscenes, making the overall narrative incoherent. This element of ludonarrative dissonance took a jab at immersion and the overall arc of Ada.
The Separate Ways remake feels like a well-thought-out expansion that not only runs parallel to Leon but also recontextualizes some of Ada’s appearances in the base game. Throughout the campaign, we catch glimpses of Leon during pivotal story moments and how our actions take effect in Leon’s campaign.
Furthermore, it also expands upon Luis’s character and goes into detail about his motives and dealing with Ada. Wesker, which could only be seen via codec calls in the original, now appears in person in Separate Ways, opening the doors for a potential Resident Evil 5 remake.
While there is so much to say about Separate Ways, Ada Wong, and the tremendous effort poured into it by Capcom, I’d like to emphasize this: ‘Resident Evil 4 remake’ was not a fluke, and ‘Separate Ways’ serves as a strong reminder of that fact.
Capcom had no strong foundations for Separate Ways and still managed to deliver something that is comparable to the quality of the base game. It’s definitely a result of hard-working industry veterans who understood the assignment and knew why Resident Evil 4 is the perfect shooter 14 years later.
If we can have this team for Resident Evil 5, 9, or Code Veronica remake, we are in for a potential banger!
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