If you’ve played Resident Evil 4 Remake, then it should be no surprise to you that the DLC, Separate Ways, is phenomenal. The campaign, which follows Ada Wong’s parallel journey through the events of RE4, expands and improves on the original, adding multiple missions and doubling the runtime, while introducing new mechanics, bosses, and story beats. This is no mere retread of Resident Evil 4, but an essential companion mission that both completes the Resident Evil 4 package and elevates it. If RE4 Remake wasn’t a Game of the Year contender before, it certainly is now.
Though smaller in scope, Separate Ways takes even more liberties with the original’s storyline than RE4 Remake did. It begins with an entirely new mission that shows Ada freeing Luis from the castle dungeon, establishing their relationship which plays a much bigger role in this version of the story. Ada then escapes the castle by either sneaking or fighting her way through the cannon gauntlet – a sequence I’ve never enjoyed in either version of Resident Evil 4. I immediately felt dread when I realized I’d have to make another run along the castle wall while dodging cannon fire, until I realized how useful Ada’s grappling hook is for getting around.
The grapple hook was used sparingly in the original, but now it’s been upgraded with several useful abilities. Grapple points are spread out everywhere, giving you quick ways to get around and new vantage points to discover amidst familiar maps. It can also be used to grapple onto staggered enemies and execute long-range melee attacks, which makes Ada incredibly mobile compared to Leon.
Instead of trying to outrun the cannon balls in the first chapter, the grapple hook lets you turn the castle walls into your playground, zipping up the parapets and flinging yourself at distant enemies. Later, you can also buy an upgrade that lets you yank shield away from enemies with the hook. Ada has a unique playstyle that allows her to quickly create distance from her enemies, or close the gap. It’s a more action-forward approach to RE4 Remake’s gameplay, and I imagine the grapple hook will make Separate Ways a lot of fun to speedrun.
Most of the changes from the original campaign feel designed to cut back on repetition. You still go to the church, but you don’t have to repeat the pedestal or the stained-glass window puzzles from the base game. You also don’t have to fight Krauser again, which was a welcome surprise. Instead, Ada has a new nemesis called the Black Robe who makes a few appearances, concluding in a pretty spectacular boss fight. This character technically appears in the original RE4 for a brief moment when you first arrive at the castle, but they’re given an entire backstory in the remake, and an important role to play in Ada’s story. This is yet another example of RE4 Remake’s new content that feels essential to the experience now, almost as though the original is retroactively missing it.
With the exception of Krauser, which I have to assume someone out there is disappointed about, nothing important has been lost, and everything new in this version of Separate Ways adds to the experience. Like the base game there are new side missions, collectibles, and weapons to use, but what makes this version of Separate Ways stand out are its additional scenes.
There’s a sequence in the new machine shop map where you utilize Ada’s detective mode to track down Luis, then fight your way back out through a gauntlet of Ganados and Chainsaw Sisters, making good use of your recently acquired Blast Crossbow. There’s a trap room in the castle where you have to fight wave after wave of suits of armor while crossbow guys poke at you from outside the cage. There’s an incredible chase sequence where you use your grapple hook to swing away from Mendez’ house like Spider-Man. Every sequence in RE4 Remake felt like a set piece moment, and Separate Ways maintains that level of quality in every one of its chapters. The new version of the El Gigante battle might be the best Resident Evil boss fight ever.
If there’s one element I’m less impressed with, it’s Lily Gao’s performance. I remember hearing complaints about her disinterested delivery when the base game came out earlier this year, but I wasn’t as bothered by it then. Here, there were several times I found the performance distracting, and oddly misaligned with the character. Ada has always been aloof, cynical, and a little condescending, but this version of Ada just seems bored. Gao’s flat affectation doesn’t make Ada seem calm, cool, and collected, though you can tell that’s what she was going for, and just couldn’t quite find it. There’s a disconnect between the character and the performance that makes more than a few scenes feel awkward. Ada received some much needed character development in the update that made her more than an archetypal ‘exotic’ femme fatale, but Gao’s energy doesn’t quite bring the character to life in the way I was hoping. Still, a minor critique of an otherwise flawless experience.
Separate Ways is so good that it makes other Resident Evil games look worse by comparison. It’s hard to believe that this campaign was only $10 when Resident Evil 3 Remake, a game of similar length yet far less satisfying, was full price just three years ago. It’s even more surprising that just last year we were playing Shadows of Rose, a lightweight, uninspiring retread of Resident Evil Village that similarly tried to make old locales feel new again, but failed to match the quality of the base game. Separate Ways is more like a Resident Evil 2-style parallel campaign than a bonus DLC, and it’s been given the level of polish and care it deserves. Separate Ways has always been essential to the RE4 experience, but the remake elevates it to the quality of a standalone Resident Evil game. And at just $10, it might be the best value in gaming this year.
Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways
Review on PS5
- An expansion of the original that adds depth to the characters and story.
- Grapple hook changes the gameplay significantly.
- So good it makes other Resident Evil games look bad.
- Lily Gao’s delivery is often flat and distracting.
Next: Ada Wong’s Laser Deaths In Separate Ways Are Key To Resident Evil’s Revival