Thanks to a wealth of unlockables and the endlessly replayable Mercenaries mode, we didn’t really need another reason to return to Capcom’s excellent remake of Resident Evil 4. But we’ve got one. Available now for the very reasonable sum of just £7.99/$9.99, Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways is an expansion that lets players take control of Ada Wong, experiencing her perspective on the story as she tries to recover a piece of valuable amber.
As you’d expect from an expansion, Separate Ways ultimately offers more of the same intense action experienced throughout the main campaign of Resident Evil 4. Ada Wong has access to all the same skills that Leon has, and has a similarly versatile assortment of weapons at her disposal. Some are new though, such as the sawn-off shotgun and the blast crossbow. As ever, you’ll quickly find that you need to curate your arsenal, what with inventory space and resources being limited. You’ll want to upgrade the weapons you rely on the most, too.
What really makes this expansion stand out is a new tool that Ada has at her disposal: a grappling hook. With this, combat encounters are made to feel fresh, and traversing environments that you’ve traipsed through before suddenly becomes more exciting. Stagger an enemy, and you’ll find that not only can you perform a melee attack when up close, but also when you’re at a fair distance. If you’re out of standard melee range, Ada will use her grappling hook to zip towards a staggered enemy, hitting them with a powerful kick as she gets close.
Separate Ways also throws you into numerous situations where, while you can stand and fight, it makes more sense to run and use your grappling hook to quickly escape harm’s way. Whether it’s to reach an otherwise inaccessible ledge or use a branch to quickly gain height and bound over an obstacle, Ada’s grappling hook quickly becomes invaluable. It’s just a shame that its use feels so limited, like many of Resident Evil 4’s actions. We’d kill for a Resident Evil game with more open world elements where we could zip around at will and dodge attacks with a dedicated button rather than waiting for prompts to appear onscreen.
What’s particularly surprising about Separate Ways is how chunky it is. With a story unfolding across seven chapters, this is nearly half the size of the main campaign. It packs in some pretty exciting boss fights, too. One encounter in particular, against a familiar adversary gargantuan in size, really impressed us. The grappling hook changes the dynamics altogether, allowing Ada to make use of rooftops to gain the advantage. Well, until they’re brought down one by one. But that’s just one of the many high points you’ll experience during the expansion’s five-hour or so running time the first time around.
Fleshing out the story of Resident Evil 4 while adding new mechanics and challenges, Separate Ways is everything you could ask for in an expansion. But what’s really impressive here is just how much there is to it. This is an essential purchase for any Resident Evil fan, offering yet more intense encounters and atmospheric bouts of exploration. Capcom could have just called this in, but instead it’s delivered an offering that’s better than some full games. Indeed, we’re left wondering if we prefer this to the actual main campaign of Resident Evil 4. That’s how good it is.