When the Resident Evil 4 Remake was released back in March, it quickly became regarded as one of the best remakes ever made by fans and critics alike. So how can Capcom follow that up?
The answer is the much-anticipated RE4 Separate Ways DLC. Not only does this $10 add-on deliver on everything the original Separate Ways offered, but it expands on it in so many ways. Segments from the original RE4 that were cut for the remake are repurposed for Separate Ways, and classic weapons like the sawed-off shotgun return with a bang.
Add on Ada's grapple abilities and the phenomenal survival-horror elements in Separate Ways and it's not surprise this has become some of my favorite DLC ever. Downloadable add-ons can be hit or miss, and I'm happy that Separate Ways is a big hit in the best way.
Separate Ways Has Some of the Best RE4 Gameplay Mechanics
By design, Resident Evil 4's gameplay is a bit more rigid than other AAA third-person shooters. This is a survival-horror game after all, and the claustrophobic nature of getting pinned in a tight space is all part of that experience. The same is true in Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways, but with a bit more versatility.
Ada plays very differently from Leon. She's more agile, can quickly escape dangerous encounters by grappling to high ground, and even has an unlockable ability that allows her to grab enemy shields from a distance. This is particularly helpful when fighting the enemies with metal shields on the island toward the end of the game.
Stagger an enemy? Use the grapple to close the distance and launch into a deadly melee attack. This makes Separate Ways feel a bit more like Spider-Man than traditional Resident Evil, and I loved every second of it.
Wondering "How long is the Separate Ways Resident Evil 4 mode?" Where the original Separate Ways could be completed in four or five hours, this expands the experience quite a bit, with my first playthrough taking about 10 hours. Those looking to acquire the Separate Ways S+ rank will want to take full advantage of Ada's grapple and added mobility.
Even though players can get out of sticky situations a bit easier than Leon can, Separate Ways is a whole lot scarier than the main campaign...
Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways Leans Heavily Into the Series' Survival Horror Roots
One of the scariest moments in all of Resident Evil 4 is the labs on the island with the Regneradors. Separate Ways takes those scenes and turns up the horror element, with the facility losing power and Ada needing to shoot her way out in the dark.
Slowly making your way down darkened corridors and around corners can only help you for so long; sooner or later, a Regnerador will reach out to attack you. Though they're initially slow, they can lunge at you unexpectedly or extend their arms from very far away and grab Ada's head.
This whole section had me running out of ammunition and needing to run around to desperately search for herbs and additional resources. When I ran out of rifle shots I had no choice but to regroup at the nearest Merchant and head back down into the darkness when I was properly armed.
Even with the Biosensor Scope equipped, the Regeneradors are a terrifying force to be reckoned with.
It's not just the byproducts of Los Plagas experiments in the labs to worry about, either. Each Black Robe encounter is surprisingly challenging and terrifying, especially when he multiplies and they close in, forcing you to retreat or waste valuable ammo to weed out which one is real.
Where in the base Resident Evil 4 campaign I was able to mostly keep Leon stocked up with ammo, there were multiple times during my Separate Ways playthrough where I was running on empty. A slightly quicker pace leaves less time between boss encounters, forcing players to deplete their munitions more frequently.
Even familiar bosses like El Gigante proved to be more challenging when dealing damage with Ada's loadout. This difficulty adds to the experience though, making it a true survival horror experience that's reminiscent of the earlier Resident Evil titles.
Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways Is In a League of Its Own for DLC
Countless games add paid DLC after the fact to further build out the story and give players new game modes to experience. Resident Evil isn't new to this. Most recently we got the Resident Evil: Village Shadows of Rose DLC prior to RE4 and Separate Ways.
Though DLC can be fun, it rarely expands on the source material and story in the way that Separate Ways does. Ada's perspective fills in a lot of gaps and shows how Ada was able to pull the strings through much of the game, like ringing the church bell during the first village encounter.
Though Separate Ways was originally included with Resident Evil 4 from the PS2 onward, Capcom elected to release the new Separate Ways as $10 DLC, and I have no issue with that. This expansion is a great standalone game on its own that easily justifies the cost to play with its polish, gameplay, and design.
Resident Evil 4 set a gold standard for replayability, and Separate Ways continues that trend. The Separate Ways DLC offers more replayability and quality than some AAA titles I've played, and this is definitely a situation where the value is worth the content you're getting.
We've previously wondered where does Resident Evil go after Village? Now I ask the same question: Where does the series go after Separate Ways? Hopefully maintaining this momentum to bring even better gameplay to future releases.
For now, I'll continue replaying Separate Ways in pursuit of that S+ rank.