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Review: Resident Evil 4 is an uncomfortable experience on iPhone

Developer: Capcom
Price: $29.99/£24.99 [Free intro]
Size: 31.41 GB
Version: 1.0.0
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Resident Evil 4

In a rapid double-tap to the head worthy of putting down a slathering zombie, Resident Evil 4 for iOS follows swiftly on from November’s Resident Evil Village release.

That might confuse some, given that Village is also known as Resident Evil 8. Just know that this take on RE4 is actually a port of the Resident Evil 4 remake – a completely rebuilt version of the 2005 classic that arrived on console and PC two years after Village.

RE4’s opening stretch is heart-stopping stuff

If your head’s now in a muddle, you’re in a similar mindset to our hero Leon Kennedy, who was last seen as a rookie cop having a terrible first day in Resident Evil 2. At the outset of RE4 he’s a more seasoned military operative on a mission to rescue the US President’s kidnapped daughter.

Soon after his arrival in a rural Spanish village, the locals turn nasty and slaughter Leon’s police escort. These aren’t the shuffling zombies of previous entries, but rather a hyper-mobile form of ghoul that still has some of its humanity.

The world is richly rendered, if a little murky

If you’re coming from Village, you’ll know what to expect here: plenty of gunplay, some desperate last-ditch melee swipes, and a fair few moments where your weapon runs out of ammo, necessitating a tactical retreat. Also like Village, the game tails off somewhat after a phenomenally tense and beautifully paced opening.

The key difference between RE4 and Village, besides the warmer setting and completely different cast, is that it’s a third person action game rather than first person. I don’t know if it’s because of this, or simply because RE4 is technically a newer and more advanced game, but RE4 seemed to run even worse than Village on my iPhone 15 Pro.

There’s stacks of weapon customisation and optional side-quests

When the action hots up – which it frequently does – the frame rate takes a massive hit, with distracting pauses in the action. Even when it’s running relatively smoothly, the resolution appears to be sub-optimal, giving this gloomy and foliage-heavy game a slightly muddy, eye-strain-inducing feel. There are no graphical controls to tinker with here, unlike with Village.

Just as with Village, you really need to hook up a controller to get the best out of RE4. Capcom has implemented touch controls, but they’re far too convoluted to allow for fluid play. They also obscure much of the screen.

A physical controller is a must

It’s still an absolute marvel that this 2023 console and PC game is running on a mobile phone, as your envious Android-owning friends will doubtless admit. And at its heart this remains the same stellar action adventure game that has topped many an end-of-year list for 2023.

There’s also the major caveat here that if you have an Apple silicon Mac, this universal app becomes supremely playable once again. I continued my iOS save on an M3 Pro-powered MacBook Pro, and it played great. If that’s your situation, bump our star rating accordingly.

However, just as with Resident Evil Village, playing on an iPhone is far from the best way to experience Resident Evil 4 – despite it being a wonderful game and a technical marvel.