The recently-announced remake of Resident Evil 4 should keep one significant change made in Resident Evil 4 VR in regards to Ashley Graham. The long-running survival horror series has seen a successful string of modern remakes, with Resident Evil 2 launching in 2019 and Resident Evil 3 following in 2020. These remakes significantly overhaul the original titles with new-generation graphics, enhanced storylines and over-the-shoulder third-person shooter gameplay. The upcoming current-gen-exclusive Resident Evil 4 remake will continue the trend of optimizing these older titles, but some big changes must be made to the aging horror game.
Released back in 2005, Resident Evil 4 marked a dramatic shift for Capcom’s survival horror saga. The original Resident Evil installments focused purely on survival, forcing players to search desperately for supplies and avoid enemies whenever possible. These classic games also utilized a fixed camera perspective, which sacrificed mobility in favor of atmosphere. Resident Evil 4 pushed the envelope by placing equal emphasis on action and horror, with protagonist Leon S. Kennedy able to aim and fire from an over-the-shoulder view. The ability to purchase weapons and ammo also let players focus less on scrounging and more on fighting monsters. Ridiculous Resident Evil 4 bosses, like the aquatic Del Lago and the bizarre Ramon Salazar, give the game a memorable lighthearted and action-packed tone.
However, Resident Evil 4 also has some uncomfortable and even inappropriate moments. Many of these instances revolve around Ashley Graham, the young college-aged daughter of the U.S. President. The game’s plot kicks off when Ashley is abducted by a mysterious cult, forcing Leon S. Kennedy to embark on a mission to rescue her. The young college student serves as both a charismatic ally and a defenseless burden for Resident Evil 4 players to protect, but many moments in the game also sexualize Ashley through both dialogue and cutscene animations. These moments come across as gratuitous by any modern standard, though Resident Evil 4 VR changed Ashley scenes to remove these inappropriate animations and lines.
If the newly-announced Resident Evil 4 remake is to modernize the beloved title for modern audiences, it needs to follow the precedence set by Resident Evil 4 VR. Capcom’s previous remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3 rewrote and remixed large parts of the original story in order to create a fresh and often surprising experience. The Resident Evil 4 remake is likely to do the same, and the title’s depiction of Ashley Graham should receive particular care and attention. Ashley is one of the franchise’s most iconic characters, and she should be treated with respect in a modern retelling of RE4. If the Resident Evil 4 remake overhauls gameplay, it should also improve its depiction of a main female character.