Resident Evil 4 is one of the most influential games of all time. It not only revolutionized the franchise, but also third-person shooters and horror games as a whole. Creators behind titles like Dead Space and The Last of Us have been pretty open about how much Resident Evil 4 influenced them. Those more obvious examples often pull from Resident Evil 4’s tempo or third-person perspective, but the 2022 puzzle game Save Room went in a different direction entirely by focusing on neatly fitting items into an attache case. And while the Resident Evil 4 remake has its own attache case, Save Room is a fine companion piece to Capcom’s latest and best remake.
The Resident Evil 4 remake’s attache case can still be tinkered with and even has a more advanced user interface that streamlines crafting. However, it’s also been mostly automated. Clicking in the left stick shuffles everything together neatly, as if it were powered by an A.I. trained on how players have obsessively packed their murder briefcase over the last 18 years.
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There’s still an occasional need for manual tampering since it doesn’t combine partial stacks of items or always make room for some oddly shaped weapons, but it mostly cuts out the busywork of making sure the TMP fits next to the Riot Gun, RPG, four stacks of pistol ammo, eight shotgun shells, and three herbs. It’s not a bad change, but those puzzle-oriented moments were satisfying in their own right since they were tiny more cerebral breaks interspersed between the high-octane combat sequences.
Save Room makes players do all of this rearranging manually, and this change is why it’s best played alongside the Resident Evil 4 remake. It understands that the process was a joy in and of itself and has 40 puzzles based purely on that process.
But it’s not just making up for a more downsized part of Resident Evil 4 because it’s also just a rewarding puzzle game. Slotting in guns to fit weirdly shaped attache cases makes for inventive brain teasers that benefit from the Resident Evil set dressing, but don’t solely rely on it. The way it starts integrating item combinations, reloading within the menu, crafting, and health management does cleverly integrate classic Resident Evil gameplay, but it also leads to more layered puzzles that consistently introduce new wrinkles. It’s not a great homage that’s a poor puzzle game; it’s a great puzzle game that is also a great homage.
Save Room also celebrates Resident Evil 4, much like the Resident Evil 4 remake, but in its own way. Samuel Ribeiro, designer and programmer at developer Fractal Projects, told Did You Know Gaming that he adored Resident Evil 4 growing up and not only loved the game’s horror gameplay, but also its relaxing inventory system. His love compelled him to make Save Room as an homage. It’s obvious when looking at the gameplay from a macro point of view, but it also manifests in the smaller elements like the music, the way the admittedly sparse menus open and close, its clicky sound effects, how item descriptions pop up, all the references within the items themselves, and its trophies, a few of which repeat dialogue lines from the iconic merchant.
The Resident Evil 4 remake respects the original game, but Save Room is a huge fanboy of it. There’s a difference, as the remake expands upon the 2005 classic to carve its own path, while Fractal Projects’ puzzler is unabashedly trying to pay tribute to such a small, but memorable feature in the original and emulate every small detail found within it. It’s a delightful coincidence that the remake’s inventory system is more simplified since that gives Save Room more room to shine. The two make a fitting pair, which is apt since Resident Evil 4’s item management systems are all about fitting and pairing.
Disclosure: The publisher provided a PlayStation 5 copy for our Save Room feature. Played on version 1.000.000