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This game made me question (if not yet regret) my past decision to buy RE8.

First of all, you need to be aware of the issue with saves, that get corrupted, risking loss of all your playthrough, or at least all CP-related content, if you manage to recover the data. I had this issue 4 times while playing the game. I did recover the data, as per guide, but it was definitely a pain. This may be an issue with Steam Cloud Saves feature, of course, but I do not remember having this issue with other games, so I lean towards the issue with the game itself, or maybe the way it is integrated with Steam. Either way, in my book this is enough to not recommend it.

But it has other reasons for me not to. For context, I need to clarify, that I was never into RE franchise, although I did try playing some of the games, and I definitely remember the experience of RE2 back when it was just released, when we were playing it with a friend on his PS1. Yes, I remember our first encounter with the licker. But still, I decided to try to get a bit more into the series after RE7 and the remakes started coming out.

I liked RE7 demo a lot, and thus bought it. It had a very good atmosphere. It felt amazing. I was not that into puzzles, that did not make sense a lot of the times, but at least some of them could be explained by the quirks of the owners of the mansion. Unfortunately, when the game was linked to the past of the franchise later in the game, it did not feel as good. I did not write a review for it, but I would probably still recommend it for the most part.

Then I played RE2 remake. It still had a good atmosphere, that I liked a lot, even though puzzles felt even more tedious with the constant backtracking, and my experience was completely ruined when I replayed the game with Claire, because of numerous inconsistencies all over the place. RE3 remake was much better. There was less backtracking, most puzzles felt more logical, and overall pacing of the game made a good experience. It was way shorter, yes, but it was a good thing. It also had more action-oriented parts in it, that played amazingly.

Why is all this important? Because I think RE4 (again, remake, I have not played original) is both continuation of what was good in RE3, and backtracking to what was bad about RE2. I guess it is trying to be both, in a sense. Overall your progression feels much more linear: you are moving forward to new areas most of the time, so there is something new to see most of the time, which can help you with feeling the progress, which is a good thing. In RE2 a lot of the time I did not feel that because of constant backtracking. RE4 also has much more action-oriented episodes, which do provide interesting (if not always "exciting") experiences.

Yet it does have a lot of backtracking, that often feels really forced, as if it's used to make you play for longer. And I am not talking about exploration for the sake of getting treasures for the sake of upgrading your weapons. No, that part is good from gameplay perspective: it's totally optional, but encouraged by the mechanics, and I feel it's just the right amount of "open world", at least for such a game. I am talking about puzzles and plot progression points. Once again, quite a few puzzles make little sense (not all of them), and situations in the plot... Well, they are kind of explained in the story, and they do seem logical, but they are there not so much for making the story more exciting, but rather for making it longer.

This would not be a big deal, if the story was interesting, but it's really not. Can it look stylish and cool? Yes, definitely. I think this is part of appeal in RE franchise, that it has certain "flare" to it. And I am fine with some level of "game logic" or "film logic" in a story, when you reduce or even remove certain aspects of realism for the sake of dramatization and excitement. I mean, I did like RE3 a lot. But where RE3 shined was its length: you just did not have enough time to roll you eyes to extent that you get bored of things. In RE4 I wanted things to end sooner, because of how every character felt flat and unlikeable. Yes, even Leon. Even Ada.

RE4 has fast paced episodes in it, don't get me wrong, but there are quite a few moments of exploration, that are just very long. And they are made even longer by the need to constantly fight or avoid enemies. Often times unlimited enemies. Yes, where in RE2 there was a very limited amount of enemies through the whole game with only that big guy (Mister X, was it?) becoming an annoyance later in the game, RE4 has places where enemies do not end. You may think that you've killed the last one, but in a few seconds you will hear another one coming. This can work in places, where you need to be pushed forward, as a tool for sense of danger or urgency, but when it's during moments that are intended for exploration - that's not cool. Especially when you get to the area with the flying bugs.

Finishing the main game started to feel like a chore at some point. You have this really satisfying combat, which you are being forced into a lot of the time (because of inconsistencies in AI's detection logic or even intent for that), which becomes annoying at some point. And then there cutscenes, that look cool, but sound outright bad because of simplistic dialogues. These 2 things are essentially on rotation, that is dragged out for no reason.

But then you get to "Separate Ways" DLC... And you realize, what this game needed to be. DLC is way more straightforward. It has less puzzles and they are simpler, there is more action, including some chasing scenes. There is even less of that optional exploration, and you generally have a bit less annoying enemies (I think there are only a few places later in the game, where the enemies are infinite). And it is much-much shorter. Even though much more stupid in terms of plot. But I liked it more because of how compact the experience was. Similar to why I liked RE3 more than RE2.

Because of this uneven experience and because RE4 lacks the "dread" atmosphere from RE2 and partially RE3 (aside from episode, when you play as Ashley, which was great), I can't recommend it. And because of this I am now concerned if I will be able to enjoy RE8, because in my understanding RE8 is to RE7 what RE4 is to RE2. I mean, both RE4 and RE8 have villages and castles, merchant, somewhat open-world, and both lack the "survival" part of "survival horror". At least unless you consider resource management and monsters as the only things you need for the genre.