Separate Ways was always just a tacked-on bonus for the PS2 version of Resident Evil 4, a mode that gave that port something to call its own. It made its way to almost every rerelease after, but never stood out and, unlike the base game, was merely a one-off distraction. A disposable and forgettable extra campaign like this wouldn’t make a worthy expansion. This remake of Separate Ways is not at all a haphazard collection of recycled scenarios, but is instead a complete reimagining that addresses its past failures and now stands right alongside the base campaign.
Separate Ways is able to escape the notion of being an unnecessary extra by having its own story with cutscenes and new areas. Ada’s journey overlaps with Leon’s in some ways — which is natural for a parallel plotline — but being able to run through slightly different stages gives Separate Ways its own identity. These new places also build out the world and show how Ada could keep an eye on Leon without him seeing.
Capcom, more importantly, uses these original places to set up original encounters. Like the base game, there are very few straightforward battles; there’s almost always some sort of hook. One section may have players blasting bugs hiding under the water, while another has them shooting infected armor sets in a cramped room as errant crossbow shots pour in.
Some are scary, a few are packed with action, and others find a happy medium, all of which demonstrate Resident Evil 4’s incredible variety. A few of them are even remixed sections from the 2005 game that didn’t make their way into the remake, once again showing Capcom’s ability to cleverly subvert expectations. Many of these callbacks fit more naturally here, too, and give Ada some of the climactic fights she lacked in the original Separate Ways.
Ada moves and shoots just as fluidly as Leon, but has one advantage over him: her grapple gun. This tool gives players the means to zoom over to a faraway enemy and fan kick them and their nearby buddies or zip to designated grappling points. The added utility makes Ada a little more agile, but doesn’t ratchet up the intensity too much or make Separate Ways too easy. Not every encounter is littered with grappling points, either, so it’s a novel mechanic that doesn’t get overused or skew the game’s delicate balance.
Separate Ways is also able to have a more clean difficulty curve because it’s now possible to upgrade Ada’s arsenal. It’s seemingly a small touch, but it gives players reasons to explore and seek treasure and lets them grow in power alongside their foes. Resident Evil 4’s upgrade economy has always been one of its strengths, so its absence in the first Separate Ways contributed to its shallow nature. Combined with its own set of unlockables, Separate Ways is now a more complete experience that thoroughly understands that simply putting Ada in the same levels as Leon is not enough. Emulating Resident Evil 4’s success is much more complex, and the upgrade loop and suite of unlockables are vital pieces of that puzzle.
A more complete narrative presentation is yet another way this remade expansion excels over its source material. Whereas boring voiceover narration and jarring cuts attempted to stitch together a separate story out of existing content in the original, Separate Ways now has its own set of cutscenes that organically lead from one place to another. It’s a more cohesive tale that uses these additional scenes to further explore Ada’s relationship with Wesker and Luis. And even though Ada’s monotone voice acting still drags it down, her added personal stakes to the story give it more nuance and also efficiently set up its most tense boss fight that has multiple thrilling phases.
Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways DLC Review: Final Verdict
Separate Ways is no longer a superfluous extra because of all of these astute changes. With its focus on replayability, upgrades, and unique encounters, this expansion more deeply understands what makes Resident Evil 4 Resident Evil 4 and has all the unpredictability of the remake. But unlike the remake, Capcom couldn’t just maintain the essence of what was already there because the original Separate Ways was so underwhelming. Instead, it deftly rebuilt Ada’s side story and turned it into an integral part of the Resident Evil 4 remake.
Disclaimer: This Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways DLC review is based on a PS5 copy provided by the publisher. Played on version 1.100.000.