Resident Evil 4 sure knows how to set the tone: the remake’s intro sees Leon slowly advancing through creepy woods and rotting, ominous houses, culminating in the horrifying crescendo that is the infamous village attack. But with that groundwork already laid, The Separate Ways DLC has no need for such a slow build-up, and smartly wastes very little time shifting into high gear: we’re put up against an extremely imposing boss mere minutes after taking control of Ada Wong, the star of this show. In fact, though it only took me just over four hours to complete this side story’s seven chapters, Separate Ways rarely wastes a moment of your time, and proves to be a highly entertaining roller coaster that includes some very satisfying new takes on ideas from its original 2005 inspiration.

The story of our cool and competent covert operative runs basically parallel to that of Leon Kennedy’s quest to find the President’s daughter in a remote Spanish village, and while their paths often intersect in interesting ways, it’s the objectives that Ada follows on behalf of a familiar shadowy figure – and some revelations that should surprise even those who know the original’s story inside and out – that make her adventure worth playing.

Where the original included more than a few “Go help Leon before he dies a nasty death” tasks, the remake’s Separate Ways feel more like a believable arc of Ada having to choose between leaving emotions at the door and putting the mission first, all while lending her own brand of assistance (but still looking for a way to use the situation to her advantage later). Ada’s story in Separate Ways also has more room to breathe than it did in the 2005 version, with less focus on retelling Leon’s story from a different angle, and more about her growing reluctance to put her client before her allies.

The fights stand out from what Leon has to deal with.

Rather than having Ada largely follow Leon’s familiar story path and events as the original Separate Ways did, this particular version does an exemplary job of giving Ada her own adversaries to contend with in a variety of ways. Right from the get-go, Ada’s own private antagonist in the form of a relentless, black-robed monstrosity that stalks her for a good portion of the story. The fights you have stand out from what Leon has to deal with, even as you find yourself in familiar locations. There’s a wonderful range of encounters — from zipping between rooftops to avoid an El Gigante’s attacks, to panicked escapes from unstoppable killing machines. With Ada’s story being as condensed as it is compared to what Leon goes through, every encounter remains fast and fresh, repeat performances feel exceedingly rare, and every boss fight has a new surprise.

You’ll revisit a lot of the same locations seen by Leon during Separate Ways, and while that may not sound exciting, Capcom makes smart use of familiar terrain by changing the context — often having you fight through enemies going a different direction than Leon did — which provides new ambush points, enemy surprises, and new pathways to learn that weren’t there before. I especially liked how some places that were mostly a lull in the action for Leon, like the old factory and village chief’s house, had different foes waiting for Ada this time around.

However, Separate Ways isn’t solely content to retread old ground, and some interesting choices are made on when to send Ada off into uncharted territory. These places might not be too wildly off the beaten path, but they do make for some entertaining moments, such as turning a corner and realizing you’re actually right above an area that Leon will arrive at soon after, letting you watch a familiar cutscene from a very different point of view. While some cutscenes will obviously play out just as they did from Leon’s perspective, there were plenty of fun twists on seeing exactly what Ada and Luis were doing when one of them contacted Leon on the radio. Even though you can’t exactly alter destiny and team up directly, it was always cool to hear Leon fighting off hordes of villagers nearby, or hearing faint crying while scaling a church rooftop.

There were plenty of fun twists on seeing exactly what Ada and Luis were doing.

I’m also extremely pleased to announce that if — like me — you were bummed about certain scenic spots from the 2005 Resident Evil 4 not appearing in RE4 Remake, you may greatly enjoy how Separate Ways manages to find unexpected ways to sprinkle recognizable sewers, gondolas, and high-tech labs into Ada’s path.

Ada herself is no slouch, and benefits from all the same features that Leon enjoys in RE4 Remake in addition to some nifty new gadgets of her own. She can sneak, slit throats, parry, and kick just as well as Leon, and her unique grapple gun allows her to zip-kick straight to a stunned enemy as if she were a guest character in a Batman Arkham game. I found it incredibly useful, using it to zip past swarms looking to pin me down and scatter them like bowling pins, pulling off headshots all the while. The grapple gun also works to quickly platform across areas in a hurry, and though it only attaches in very specific spots, it gave me new ways to move around many of the larger open areas and let me pull off maneuvers like grappling across the castle’s courtyard maze to intercept a fleeing zealot, or escaping quickly when I was backed into a corner.

The Batman similarities don’t stop there.

The Batman similarities don’t stop there: when Ada isn’t zipping across rooftops like Leon Kennedy’s version of the Dark Knight, she also employs her own detective vision mode with special contact lenses to solve a few puzzles. Unfortunately, none of this is anywhere near as flashy as the grapple gun, and more than once I was told to solve the thrilling mystery of “follow these specific footprints along a very straightforward path.” Part of me wishes there was more that could be done with the gadget, but I’m also glad these simpler puzzle ideas were used sparingly enough that it didn’t ruin the pacing.