When Capcom released its slick remake of Resident Evil 4 in March, it felt like something was missing. The action survival-horror game was a robust package, but some memorable moments had been excised from the GameCube original. With Separate Ways, a new add-on starring enigmatic super spy Ada Wong, Resident Evil 4 feels complete — and then some.
Separate Ways tells the events of Ada’s mission during Resident Evil 4’s main story. Her adventure runs parallel to, and frequently intersects with, Leon Kennedy’s. Key moments from the original game are seen from her perspective; Ada does battle with many of the same enemies and revisits many of the same areas that Leon does in his story.
Ada’s mission remixes and recontextualizes some of those reprised encounters, in part thanks to her unique gameplay mechanics. While she largely plays like Leon, using a combination of firearms, stealth, and melee attacks, she has a few spy gadgets that give her extra flair. The most prominent differentiator is her grappling gun, which she uses to zip around environments and bypass some of the lock-and-key puzzles that slow Leon down. That gun also comes into play in combat; Ada can use the device to close the distance between her and stunned opponents, giving her a strong tactical advantage in fights. Optionally, she can use the grappling hook to snatch shields from certain enemies.
Ada has another gadget that feels borrowed from Batman: a high-tech contact lens that lets her spot clues like footprints or crucial puzzle components. Both items give her campaign a distinct vibe, making her progression through the roughly six-hour story feel incredibly speedy.
Resident Evil 4 players will find a familiar groove in Separate Ways as they revisit story beats, enemies, and key locations, sometimes in a way that feels like backtracking. Capcom has cleverly remixed some moments, like a battle against El Gigante that employs Ada’s grappling-hook acrobatics and another tense boss fight that spices things up with waves of enemies. However, after integrating the grappling gun into that boss fight to spectacular effect, it’s mostly absent in other encounters where it would feel naturally useful. It feels like the game underutilizes her new tool, and it would’ve been fun to see her rely on it even more.
Some areas and elements are completely new, though. One memorable boss battle cut from the Resident Evil 4 remake returns, albeit in a very different form. Capcom has even restored the delightfully goofy security laser corridor with a twist. Even better, it now has a solid narrative reason to exist.
Narratively, the tweaks in Ada’s campaign also help to reinforce just how much more capable and confident Ada is compared to the put-upon Leon. She takes much of her mission in stride, and it becomes clear that Leon’s mission wouldn’t have been successful without her multiple interventions. She’s cool and dry, so deft at keeping her true intentions guarded that sometimes even the player isn’t sure what her true motivations are. Unfortunately, Ada’s enigmatic character is flattened by her stiff voice acting. Her dialogue is stilted and unnatural — at times, unrealistically devoid of emotion. I couldn’t help but wonder if her English-language voice actor was given bad direction, in an attempt to achieve a different style of cool to further distinguish her from Leon. Whatever the case, it wasn’t successful.
Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways greatly improves upon the storytelling and importance of Ada’s side story, serving as a template for future Resident Evil games’ expansions. It’s a condensed and accelerated version of the remake’s story that fleshes out behind-the-scenes events, and its ending enticingly teases the next possible remake in Capcom’s horror franchise. It can feel repetitive in parts, underrealized in others, but it’s a meaty piece of content that’s worth playing if the Resident Evil 4 remake left you hungering for more.
Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways was released Sept. 21 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X. The expansion was reviewed using a final “retail” PlayStation 5 download code provided by Capcom. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.