It’s funny how time works. I could have sworn Resident Evil 4 was released only very recently and yet nearly six months on from that very day, Separate Ways has landed. Rumours have been swirling for a little while about the potential release of this classic add-on, which was recently confirmed just days before release.
As with the main game, Separate Ways has been given the remake treatment and it chronicles the events of Resident Evil 4 as seen through the eyes of Ada Wong. Ada and Leon have something of a complicated history and as I’m sure you’ve noticed from the main game, cross paths pretty regularly during their adventure.
Ada is sent on a mission to recover the Amber, a prized possession of the Los Illuminados cult. It’s (hopefully) not a spoiler to reveal that, as before, it’s series arch villain Albert Wesker who is employing Ada’s services in order to carry out his own shady plans. All I will say is that there’s more Wesker to enjoy this time around, and thankfully his portrayal is as it should be. Serious and grounded. He’s sinister, ruthless and may well be on course for a very different future than was originally planned for him.
Anyhow, back to Ada. She’s cool. Super cool in fact. Separate Ways has a different vibe to Resident Evil 4. It feels much more “James Bond”, right down to the little guitar twangs that are weaved through the soundtrack.
Possibly more than ever before, Ada is portrayed as a complex character who seems to really consider the impacts of her actions in this iteration of Separate Ways. She is far from one dimensional as she grapples (you’ll appreciate that shortly) to simultaneously manage several relationships, all whilst trying to not get ripped to pieces by a whole manner of insidious creatures.
The backlash against Lily Gao, who also voices Ada in the Resident Evil 4 remake, was and remains ridiculous. She has much more screen time here, which allows her to flesh out Ada to be a fascinating and often charming protagonist. Yes it’s a different interpretation of the character, but it works really well.
It’s fair to say that Separate Ways gets going straight from the starting block. The beauty of it is that you already know the overall story, and roughly where Ada fits in. This means over the five or six hours, events move at breakneck speed and you’ll be crossing paths with plenty of nasties on your travels too.
In fact, this is one of the many ways where this story differs from the original. There is something rather new, and rather horrifying, lying in wait. Other changes include elements from the original game that seemed to have been shuffled out in the remake, which have been worked into the story here. This includes enemies and environments which fit perfectly, creating a brilliant balance of the familiar whilst also offering enough to keep the player hooked.
One example is the famous laser corridor from the original. I actually gasped when I spotted it, but it serves a different purpose this time around. I found the big bad Saddler to have been the biggest missed opportunity from the original 2005 release, but attention is given to this also as was with the final battle in the remake.
Ada has a couple of new tricks up her sleeve too. Her iconic grapple gun is used to zip around environments with a flourish of style. However, it can also be used to pull off certain moves in boss battles which result in some of the coolest sequences I have ever seen in a Resident Evil game. I was left open mouthed. Her Iris lens tech also kicks in when needed to solve certain puzzles, and decipher keypad codes. Put simply, Ada kicks ass.
Despite loving the Resident Evil 4 remake, I did hit upon a couple of niggles. “Deadzone” issues were affecting the accuracy of my weapons, and hitting buttons mid-battle to dodge seemed not to register on some occasions. However, this time around these issues were pretty much non-existent, if not much less frequent than before at least.
I must say that I absolutely loved revisiting Resident Evil 4 – Separate Ways. Capcom has done a fantastic job here. It manages to skilfully flesh out an already well known story in an organic way whilst staying wholly faithful to the main narrative. It makes perfect sense, flows well and gives a different perspective on numerous key moments from the main game.
Resident Evil 4 – Separate Ways is the perfect example of how to deliver DLC. It’s familiar but new, expands on both the gameplay and story of the base game and at a low price, is an absolute steal.