The Separate Ways DLC for Resident Evil 4 is something that makes the base game no longer seem like a full-fledged game. It’s just that good. Find out why Separate Ways is exactly the way all game DLCs should be and why it’s simply a game changer in our new review.
It’s challenging to find fault with the remake of Resident Evil 4, released this spring: Capcom almost flawlessly modernized one of the most iconic horror-action games of all time. In the case of RE4, you can’t even whine about the eternal Achilles heel of the entire series – duration: depending on your pace, the updated “four” can be completed in 15-25 hours, and this is a more than decent figure, and don’t forget about the high replayability of the adventure. That’s why the new story DLC for the remake is so impressive, offering an alternative campaign for everyone’s favorite spy Ada Wong. We are waiting for additional content for an additional six hours of playing time, and content that is in no way inferior in quality to the main one and also returns many important scenes cut from the old Resident Evil 4.
If you played the original Separate Ways, which Capcom included in the PS2 port of RE4, you probably weren’t thrilled with it and have probably long forgotten it. It was a short mini-campaign replayed Resident Evil 4’s levels without any highlights. As a result, the most significant mark Separate Ways left on the overall Resident Evil legacy were several new cutscenes and Ada’s diaries. Due to the technical features of the PlayStation 2, these videos were not played in the engine but as pre-recorded low-resolution files – in the same form they later appeared in all subsequent re-releases, which once again could discourage newcomers from the idea of getting acquainted with this mode.
Of course, the updated Separate Ways also uses many of the familiar landmarks of the remake but also adds many more critical plot points that better reveal the motivations of characters like Ada Wong, Albert Wesker, and Luis Serra. It expands the locations, returns, as mentioned above, fan-favorite scenes and battles that did not fit into the elemental remake, and also does not forget about gameplay innovations. It’s worth starting with the latter to discuss the strengths of Separate Ways 2023.
Following the blueprints, the 2023 version of Separate Ways is a parallel storyline to Resident Evil 4, where the idea of a second protagonist is used as an excuse for several additional hours of gameplay, and the narrative core consists of an attempt to connect and expand the already known story with new details and characters.
Going searching for Amber, Ada is somewhat ahead of Leon with his rescue mission and quickly finds Luis Serra, an eccentric and unexpectedly conscientious scientist who is ready to exchange a dangerous artifact for the opportunity to escape from the predatory tentacles of the Los Illuminados cult. However, the rules of the genre dictate that all plans must be disrupted, so Amber quickly turns into an elusive MacGuffin, the search for which gives Ada an excuse for elegantly grinding devils and frequent, albeit indirect, intersections with dear Leon, who is trying his best to get the daughter of the US President from European holidays.
The plot and its presentation is perhaps the biggest surprise of Separate Ways (2023). If, in the original, for a two-hour running time, you were offered literally two or three scenes and the same number of lines of meaningful dialogue, then there is a great emphasis on storytelling in the new version. Capcom recorded many new videos for the expansion – both completely original episodes and alternative presentations of old cutscenes. The result is a concentrated and coherent narrative – Ada once again strengthens the status of the fatal anti-heroine, Louis spurs the tragedy of his fate, and Albert Wesker looks menacingly from under the black lenses of his glasses for the first time since 2009, noticeably reminding of his existence.
Ada behaves in battle in a generally similar way to Leon; she also knows how to parry enemy attacks with a knife and knock out stunned enemies with kicks, but with the difference that the charming lady in red also relies on her unique gadget – a grappling hook. With its help, Miss Wong can climb onto the roofs of buildings and pull herself closer to enemies, which allows her to initiate finishing moves with her feet from virtually any distance, and not just when standing close to the enemy, as in the case of Leon. Ada can also use her hook to snatch shields from opponents’ hands, which simplifies a huge number of skirmishes. All this doesn’t sound all that significant, but the battles seem noticeably more dynamic in practice.
True, Ada lacks a wider selection of weapons. She, alas, does not have access to Leon’s entire arsenal, and her only exclusive killing weapon is a crossbow with explosive arrows, which, admittedly, begins to seem useful only after significant leveling. However, the reduced choice of guns is not a serious enough flaw to spoil the experience of playing as Ada, since the same grappling hook is enough to make the gameplay feel fresh.
In terms of structure, Separate Ways is a more “concentrated” Resident Evil 4, where the action rarely stops. Puzzles take even less time, and the scenery changes every 10 minutes. There is no time to yawn here: Ada Wong is a person who rushes at full speed toward the goal, sweeping away any obstacles in her path. And there are plenty of obstacles, both completely new. For example, in the add-on, there is a crazy battle with a giant, from which there is a direct whiff of “Attack on Titan”, with their jumping on the roofs.
Most chapters of Separate Ways (2023) take place in locations from Resident Evil 4 (2023), but with various edits. In some places, the designers increased the number of floors of the scenery, offering to climb to heights using Ada’s cat-hook; in others, new areas and passages were opened, organically integrated into ready-made three-dimensional spaces. And in some places, the changes turn out to be mainly cosmetic – such as the ability to look at the village’s main square on a cloudy day – just like in the original Resident Evil 4.
At the same time, unlike Separate Ways from the old game, the updated Ada campaign successfully avoids sections made without any imagination – in each chapter, as in the original game, the authors regularly introduce you to increasingly inventive combat puzzles, skillfully changing the rhythm from large battles to optional stealth segments and large-scale boss battles. There’s also a natural progression threaded through it all, borrowed from the remake – you find and buy new types of weapons, improve their characteristics, collect treasures, and balance a minimal budget of precious coins. The only noticeable difference from Leon’s campaign is the absence of a shooting gallery, but its rewards, namely a selection of keychains with passive and one active bonus, were simply transferred to the merchant’s menu.
Fans of the classic RE4 probably noticed some gaps in the remake: for example, Capcom, for some reason, forgot to put the disgusting boss U-3 in the updated game and, for a mysterious reason, cut out the famous shootout on the cable car, the episode with the escape from the huge drill in the castle and the iconic corridor with lasers, when Leon had to do somersaults in the air to dodge the deadly beams and not turn into minced meat.
At the release of Resident Evil 4, all these cuts were not particularly embarrassing since their place in the remake was taken by new scenes and episodes, and the same corridor with lasers somehow did not fit into the more serious tone of the rethinking of the “four”. Now that all of the above points and some others have been added to the campaign for Ada Wong, it’s not very clear how we lived without them for the last six months. Capcom implemented all the cut content into Separate Ways as competently as possible, ensuring everything looked coherent and logical. Thus, the U-3 boss now acts as a full-fledged antagonist for Ada, giving her the lion’s share of the DLC trouble, and the corridor with lasers and somersaults in the air is quite consistent with the more vigorous spy spirit of the add-on.
The only thing you can try to criticize under the shield of objectivity is that Separate Ways is not included in the basic set of the Resident Evil 4 remake and is sold for separate money. However, given the quality and completeness of the main release, this complaint seems insignificant. Well, you can also remember the secret weapon from Resident Evil 4 (2005) – for some reason Capcom doesn’t want to add it to the remake, even with the advent of Separate Ways. But this is on the verge of completely indecent quibbles.
In addition, along with the release of Separate Ways, the Resident Evil 4 remake received a free update to The Mercenaries mode, which added four new characters (two variations of Ada, an alternative version of Leon and Albert Wesker) and another map. This finally completes this mini-game with all the original content and gives access to a small bonus – a new (old) costume for Leon, which opens for completing all maps for all characters with an S+ rating.
The relationship between Resident Evil 4 (2005) and Resident Evil 4 (2023) in the digital space will be actively discussed for many years. The debate will address serious questions about how the two games complement and contradict each other. Let it be because, in disputes, the truth is often born. But there’s not much to argue about the new Separate Ways – this is an addition destined to remain forever a noticeable and essential fragment of the global history of the Resident Evil franchise.
Surprisingly, Separate Ways appears to be a longer, higher-budget adventure than 2020’s Resident Evil 3. And the funny thing is that while that remake cost $60 at release, this DLC costs only $10. Why Capcom would suddenly put such a low price on such a quality product is a mystery to which I have no sure answer. Surely no one will complain about such generosity. If you’re a Resident Evil fan, you shouldn’t miss Separate Ways, but even if you’re just a gamer who enjoyed the Resident Evil 4 remake but isn’t crazy about the series, you should still check out the new DLC. At least to remind ourselves again that there was no cooler remake than RE4 this year.
Separate Ways is a large, high-quality, solid expansion into which a lot of effort was invested and where there was a place for its secrets, costumes, accessories, and bonuses. They even recorded a significant amount of new, memorable music for the add-on. Separate Ways is almost an exemplary example of how add-ons should be done. This is especially pleasant given that RE4 itself showed how to treat remakes simultaneously with love and without being afraid to point out shortcomings. Ada’s plot came out exactly the same: it’s still a love letter to the original but without the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. DLC can rarely boast something like this. I think CD Projekt RED, with its Phantom Liberty, will suddenly have a competitor in the “DLC of the year” category.
Our review of Separate Ways is the result of a verified Steam purchase.