Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Previously an unlockable extra within the PS2 version of the original Resident Evil 4, Separate Ways finally makes its way to Capcom's Resident Evil 4 remake as a full-blooded DLC. And while you might baulk at the idea that a bonus chapter, which was once free within the original game, has been repurposed as a paid add-on, Separate Ways is more than worth shelling out for.
Charting femme fatale Ada Wong's secret mission, unfolding concurrently alongside the events of Leon S. Kennedy's journey through the main game, Separate Ways sees the enigmatic agent-for-hire seeking out a mysterious substance known as 'the Amber', at the behest of mainstay villain Albert Wesker. Here, Wesker is less the sneering pantomime villain that he became in the previous games, and more a gravel-voiced taskmaster, albeit one with transparently nefarious motives.
Ada begins her journey by tracking down Luis Serra, which means braving the village and its infected Los Illuminados denizens. Thanks to her grapple gun, Ada has a few neat tricks up her sleeve, enabling her to traverse across and over obstacles that would stymie Leon. She can also use it to reel herself towards enemies for a melee attack, and, upon purchasing and equipping the requisite attaché case charm, Ada can yank away shields using the grapple's tether. It's supremely satisfying, as is skewering foes with exploding arrows from Ada's Blast Crossbow.
What's perhaps even more satisfying is how Separate Ways manages to seamlessly incorporate set pieces cut from the main game, expanding on the original version by some margin. Of course, we're not going to spoil those set pieces here, but just know that this is a DLC that builds upon Resident Evil 4's story in a meaningful way, while providing the same tight and engaging combat and exploration. There are puzzles, too, aided by Ada’s AR tracking device, incorporated into a fancy, cutting edge contact lens.
For all intents and purposes, this is every bit a full remake of Separate Ways as Resident Evil 4 itself, changing up the narrative and its events, while adding and fleshing out key moments from Leon's mission to rescue the US President's daughter, Ashley. As such, Ada's run-ins with Leon are viewed from a different perspective, which in turn lends the main game's story further texture.
Separate Ways also succeeds in being every bit as intense as Leon's campaign, Ada often finding herself short on ammo and health items, especially at the higher difficulties, where resources become even more scarce. Naturally, it also looks incredible, that ever-reliable RE Engine conjuring new monstrous abominations, whose flesh glistens with infectious slime and unctuous goo.
Familiar locations mix with unseen corners of RE4's island, whether it's the subterranean waterways running beneath the castle, or the caved-in abandoned facility at the opposite side of the military compound. Ada's grapple gun means that much of your time in the village is spent out of the mud, and up on the rooftops, scrambling over terracotta tiles and shooting Ganados from a vantage point. Again, it's a new way to experience otherwise familiar areas.
As far as expansions go, Separate Ways is pretty much essential for anyone who's already rinsed Resident Evil 4, and worth every penny. This is a well-paced chunk of story (a good 4-5 hours of it), and something that slots neatly together with Leon's portion of the game – if you want the complete RE4 experience, then you need to get this sewn up forthwith.
Resident Evil: Separate Ways is out now for $9.99/£7.99 and adds seven new trophies.