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Sorrel’s Side Quests: Why are we still playing ‘Resident Evil 4’?

In 2005, "Resident Evil 4" arrived on the Nintendo GameCube, bringing astonishing prestige to a console struggling for third-party support. The GameCube box art for "Resident Evil 4" boasts a massive banner proudly proclaiming that the game is "ONLY FOR NINTENDO GAMECUBE." 17 years later, that banner couldn't be further from the truth.

"Resident Evil 4" has landed on every platform imaginable. Later in 2005, it hit PlayStation 2, and a couple of years after that, it landed on the Nintendo Wii. It's since been ported and remastered for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, a budget console sold in Brazil and Mexico called the Zeebo and most recently, Meta Quest 2. That last port arrived in October 2021. A few months later, a remake of "Resident Evil 4" was announced. So why are we still so enamored by "Resident Evil 4" after nearly two decades?

The easy answer is that it's fun. It's an over-the-shoulder shooter game that's easy enough to be enjoyed by those who don't care for the genre and a survival horror game that's light enough on scares to be a good time for the easily disturbed. It's structurally simple but built on some foundationally strong gameplay, and its characters are broadly written but charming enough to love. Where so many games in 2022 attempt to build upward, "Resident Evil 4" is content being exactly enough for everyone. Nothing in the game feels superfluous, and nothing goes further than it needs to. In 2005, it was a boundary-pushing title, but in 2022, it feels refreshingly small and tightly wound.

Of course, it wouldn't be very satisfying to say, "people like 'Resident Evil 4' because it's very good." While that's true, it's not the whole truth. In reality, I think many people like "Resident Evil 4" because, well, it's "Resident Evil 4". You're supposed to like it. It's a great video game and everyone knows it. Why else would they release it so many times?

When you ask someone what their favorite Akira Kurosawa film is, nine times out of 10, they'll tell you "Seven Samurai." When you ask for the best George Orwell novel, you can pretty safely flip a coin between "1984" and "Animal Farm." The best Sam Raimi movie, per just about any Raimi fan, is either "Spider-Man 2" or "Evil Dead II." That doesn't actually mean those are the best works by any of those masters. Still, they endure because they were deemed the best by some very intelligent people a very long time ago, and it's become pointlessly contrarian to suggest anything else.

"Resident Evil 4" is the "Seven Samurai" of video games. It's phenomenal. It's probably even worth the 15 years of hype built around it. It might be worth remaking and remastering a dozen times. I've purchased "Resident Evil 4" no fewer than four times. It's a masterpiece. And yet, like so many masterpieces, on occasion, one must ask: is this as good as we've been told it is? Do I believe that "Resident Evil 4" is the single greatest video game ever made, or is that a belief I've heard so frequently from people I respect that I've convinced myself it's true? Ultimately, it probably doesn't matter. "Resident Evil 4" is good, and the respectable critics are right: Everyone should play it at least once. And, thanks to 17 years' worth of re-releases, everyone can do just that.

Sorrel Kerr-Jung is a sophomore studying virtual reality game development at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Sorrel by tweeting her at @sorrelkj.

Sorrel Kerr-Jung

Opinion Writer

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