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Even before Resident Evil 4 remake’s release, fans were wondering if the game’s famous expansion Separate Ways would also get the remake treatment. Now it’s finally arrived as DLC, and it’s a great slice of action, if a little familiar.
That’s fine of course – because the Resident Evil 4 remake was a spectacular reimagining of the classic game that updated it in all the right ways, trimming the fat, making it feel right at home in 2023, and still providing a quality action adventure worthy of the original’s legacy. It wasn’t completely without fault mind – the Island section is still easily the worst part of the game and, for some, holding back Ada’s chapter for the DLC felt a little mean spirited given it was free in the PS2 and onward releases of Resi 4. But the reason I’ve spent most of this opening talking about the main game is because Separate Ways is very much more of the same.
Plot wise, you’re playing as the mysterious Ada Wong, filling in some of the blanks to let you know what she was up to during Leon’s adventure. Sensibly, this doesn’t follow the original Separate Ways story too closely, with the remake’s story as the obvious backbone instead. You still get to spend a fair amount of time with the Remake’s fleshed out Luis for a lot of the first half of the DLC, which is very welcome indeed. There’s some brilliant little nods to stuff that the Remake didn’t get time to address, including a particularly memorable set piece towards the end that harkens back to a part of the original Resi 4 fans missed from the Remake.
You’ll spend your time across seven generous chapters of Ada’s story, with about an hour per chapter if you’re being thorough – so it’s a fairly substantial chunk of DLC for the money. They include familiar environments like the castle, the ramparts and naturally, the village. However you will be spending some of that retreading literally the exact same maps you probably already played through in the main game (only often going through them backwards). But that’ll soon be to the back of your mind as you once again start blasting through villagers, fending off chainsaw wielding maniacs and of course trying once more to do those fun challenges all good Resi players like to do such as the Merchant quests and rewards for repeat plays etc.
Ada does have her own weapons – although by and large they do feel fairly similar to Leon’s loadout – but she also has a couple of spy-related tricks in her arsenal in the form of her special contact lenses, and her grappling hook. They definitely fit into the spy fantasy, although they’re a little undercooked – the grappling hook is mostly used to just allow Ada to get to new areas after they’ve been destroyed during Leon’s adventure. However, there’s a great use of it during one section that allows you to use it to get a better position to take on a hedge maze of enemies, and in a memorable boss fight against El Gigante, but it’s definitely a shame there’s not more opportunities for more freeform use of the hook. Similarly the super tech contact lenses allow you to see footprints and used for a couple of fingerprint puzzles, but it’s a little disappointing we didn’t get something like Ada’s fun hacking tool from her section in the Resident Evil 2 Remake making a return.
It’s also a little disappointing that – bosses aside – there’s no new enemies in this DLC either. But those bosses are great fun – and though we don’t want to spoil everything here, there’s both new takes on classic foes (we already mentioned El Gigante) and some pretty cool all-new encounters. While there’s not quite the variety there is in Resi 4 Remake (there’s no equivalent to the knife-fight against Krauser, for example) they do tick all the boxes for Resi’s brand of grotesque creatures that take a lot of effort but are suitably satisfying to put down. The game’s final sequence too, while familiar, is a fun gauntlet to put you through the test to a strict time limit – as Resi fans are no doubt very familiar with by this point.
However, true to the mantra if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – the fact of the matter is that the Separate Ways DLC is still really, really good fun. Considering the price (less than $10/local equivalent for most places), you’re getting a really good amount of gameplay for your cash – and let’s be honest, if you’re buying this expansion it’s because you want more Resident Evil 4 Remake. That’s exactly what you get here, and despite its generous length, it doesn’t outstay its welcome. On top of that, the DLC’s story makes a couple of intriguing changes to established canon that’ll be interesting to see if they pick those threads up in a future title, whether that be a presumed Resident Evil 5 remake or otherwise.
For now, Separate Ways isn’t essential, but it gives us a little bit more of Resident Evil 4 Remake. And a little more of one of the best games of what’s already been a pretty stacked year can’t be a bad thing at all.
Platform reviewed: PS5
Review code provided by Capcom