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Separate Ways is the Best Excuse to Return to the Resident Evil 4 Remake

Every step you take, she'll be watching you.

Written by Diego Arguello
Ada Wong in Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways.
Capcom
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In a world of deadly viruses and heinous creatures walking the earth, an espionage story is surprisingly a perfect fit. In a similar vein as the outstanding Resident Evil 4 remake, the Separate Ways DLC takes the original’s retelling through the eyes of spy Ada Wong and refines it in almost every way. And if you missed it when it first launched on September 21st, the recent release of Resident Evil 4 Gold Edition makes for the perfect excuse to experience the memorable alternate trip.

The premise of the original Separate Ways is fairly simple. Ada Wong, Leon Kennedy's long-time acquaintance, also happens to be on a mission during the events of Resident Evil 4. The characters cross paths multiple times in the main story, but for the most part, Ada just happens to be at the right place at the right time to help Leon. Separate Ways provides the chance to see what the agent has been up to through a much more condensed playtime.

The foundation of the revised version is similar, but it follows the same philosophy as the remake, bending tradition to expand on the classic concept with a plethora of additions. For starters, playing as Ada now feels like playing a spy with cool gadgets, arguably a spy's best trait. She has a grappling hook that’s perfect for reaching rooftops and castle walls, both to get closer to the action or escape from some encounters altogether if you desire.

With Ada, all you need to do is aim with the camera and press a button, completely ignoring the gap with a stylish flying kick.

Capcom

You can't just hook anywhere — there are spots marked for where you can do so — but the grapnel can also be used during combat. When playing as Leon, I'm sure you're familiar with the frustration of stunning an enemy that’s too far from you to melee attack. With Ada, all you need to do is aim with the camera and press a button, completely ignoring the gap with a stylish flying kick. As you progress through the story, you can also purchase a charm from the merchant to rip enemies' shields away from them with a similarly slick move.

There's also the Interactive Retinal Inquiry System (I.R.I.S. for short), possibly the coolest contact lens that’s out there. It pinpoints grappling hook spots automatically for you, but more importantly, it displays the footsteps of key characters for you to follow during the story. This strengthens the theme of playing as an agent with access to high-tech devices while avoiding the tropes of AAA games that also have you searching for environmental clues. Mainly, Ada isn't constantly talking during I.R.I.S. sections, and these only take place a few times without overstaying their welcome. They establish a thematic difference without retracting Ada's hand from the trigger for too long.

There's a section involving a puzzle that stood out to me, in which you have to insert the correct keypad code to open a few doors inside a lab. The code isn't written in blood on a wall or hidden within a collectible file. Instead, you have to interact with the keypad for I.R.I.S. to scan the fingerprints on it. The numbers you need for the code are automatically revealed, but there's some guesswork involved in the correct order, which is hinted at by the shape of each fingerprint. This becomes even more unnerving when a certain enemy is chasing you. Moments like this are cleverly deployed in Separate Ways, adding a clear distinction that was lacking in the original, where it felt more akin to playing as Leon with a different skin.

Separate Ways can last anywhere from four to eight hours, depending on how often you enjoy stranding off the beaten track.

Capcom

Separate Ways can last anywhere from four to eight hours, depending on how often you enjoy stranding off the beaten track. Sure, it's shorter than the Resident Evil 4 remake campaign, with just seven chapters as opposed to 16. But if, like me, you have already played through Leon's perspective a few times last year, Ada's B-side shines a new light on the story events without overstaying her welcome.

Luis Serra, an ex-biologist and decent sidekick for Leon, gets some extra screen time. This also means more dialogue from him — since Luis speaks partially in Spanish, his presence further accentuates the remake's embellishments around the use of the language. Last year, I wrote about my mixed feelings about this as a Spanish speaker. The additions are great, yet lines aren't captioned, and when they are, the game defaults for variations of "[ominous mumbling in Spanish]" rather than proper translations.

Separate Ways follows the same methodology, so, unless you understand the language, you'll be once again missing out on some extra details. Still, the additional screen time makes the main campaign's events even more resonant after knowing what Luis went through to help others. Albert Wesker is also more present, acting as the shitty boss who's constantly asking Ada for updates on her task to retrieve a dangerous sample for him.

Resident Evil games thrive in their replayability potential.

Capcom

Moreover, you can now explore areas that weren't present in the first run-through, and that also includes enemy encounters. Of course, the areas themselves will be familiar, but there's a constant effort to take Ada through previously unexplored nooks and crannies and present a twist with enemies. Without spoiling its surprises, just know that the laser sequence in the laboratory is back — a glaring omission in the remake's campaign. And yes, failure leads to extremely gory results, paying tribute to the iconic scene of 2002's Resident Evil film.

Resident Evil games thrive in their replayability potential, rewarding your muscle memory as well as efforts in upgrading weapons by letting you re-tackle stories with familiarity in mind. Subsequent playthroughs become power trips. Despite being a DLC, Separate Ways feels similar. If you've memorized the locations of treasures, most of them are still in the same place. (This poises the hilarious headcanon that you're getting to them before Leon, or picking up his slack).

But there's also a playful aspect in place when these expectations are subverted, or gain a twist thanks to a different addition. As Ada, you have full access to the merchant, meaning that you can upgrade your weapons (there are a few new ones, too) and take requests from him. Although some of the objectives are familiar, such as shooting down Blue Medallions, there are some hunt-type quests involving the areas of Separate Ways that add some nice variety. Moreover, there's a new massive list of challenges to tackle that are unique to the DLC. And yes, doing so grants you with costumes and accessories — a great excuse to play again.

There's also the Interactive Retinal Inquiry System (I.R.I.S. for short), possibly the coolest contact lens that’s out there.

Capcom

For now, the future of the Resident Evil franchise remains unclear. Capcom released a VR mode for the Resident Evil 4 remake in December, but little is known about what's next. If the ending of the remake is any indication, then we might be revisiting Resident Evil 5 next. Leon's remade mission in Spain is a solid indication of what the remake of more action-oriented entries in the series can look and feel like. Separate Ways treads on similar grounds, complementing the story to make for a well-rounded experience. But if you ask me, I'd love for Ada Wong's espionage skills to be put to use in a new mission.

The Resident Evil 4 remake is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, iOS, and PC.

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