The first Resident Evil Revelations was released in 2012 for Nintendo 3DS to great reception from the fans and games media, who considered the game a return to the roots for the franchise. Myself though? Well, as a fan of Resident Evil I thought the game was just mediocre, with a dumb story full of pointless backtracking and bad enemy design, and definitely not worthy of the praise it got seemingly everywhere.
Thankfully, Revelations 2 is a much better game that fixes many of the problems of its predecessor, while at the same time introducing some new ones.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 – Episode 1
Set in 2011, between Resident Evil 5 and 6, Revelations 2 tells a side story that fills some gaps and answers some lingering questions from the RE mythos. The game is being released in four episodic installments, out of which two have been released so far. Each episode consists of two chapters, one starring Claire Redfield and one starring Barry Burton, who’s back in his first starring role in a Resident Evil game, and first canon in-game appearance since the 2002 remake of the first game.
Each character also has a partner we’ll need to control in order to advance through the game. Claire is assisted by Barry’s daughter Moira, who wields a flashlight and a crowbar and has a truck driver’s mouth. Both women were kidnapped from a party thrown by TerraSave to welcome the new additions to their staff (including Moira, who once again proves that first days on the job can go horribly wrong in the Resident Evil universe,) and now they’ll have to work together to escape the hellish prison island in where they woke up.
Barry, on the other hand, is joined by Natalia Korda, a mysterious little girl with a thing for teddy bears, and who possesses the ability to sense the presence of enemies. Barry finds Natalia as soon as he sets foot on the island after receiving Moira’s distress call, and reluctantly agrees to take her with him.
We can switch characters by pressing Triangle at any point of the game, RE0-style, and both Moira and Natalia prove extremely helpful in finding hidden items and secrets and even during combat: we’ll use Moira’s flashlight to blind enemies, and her crowbar to provide the killing blow once they’re down. Natalia can see the weak spots in enemies and throw bricks at them, which immediately exposes the weak spot for Barry to see. There are times though when they may feel a bit too useful, and make you wonder why play with Claire or Barry at all, since you’ll spend most of your time looking for hidden stuff.
Meanwhile, Claire and Barry control more like you’d expect from a RE game post 4. The game does away with the classic tank controls in favor of the free directional movement from RE6. However, combat doesn’t provide the amount of freedom and options from that game and opts for a more traditional approach, which is almost the same as the first Revelations. Some new additions are the run button (straight from RE6,) a dedicated dodge button, and, for the first time in the series, the ability to crouch and do stealth kills. And you will want to stealth your way through some sections of the game, because enemies in Revelations 2 hit hard. Each campaign has its own enemy types which make for some good variety. Take too much damage on a single hit and you’ll get into a bleeding state (that feels straight out of Dino Crisis,) constantly losing health until you use a tourniquet.
The game also has an emphasis in ammo and resource management that was missing from the series for a while, and seems to have taken a lot of cues from The Last of Us. The importance of combining items, like deciding whether to make a tourniquet or an explosive bottle, plus the aforementioned stealth, and Natalia’s ability to throw bricks, make it obvious that Capcom looked at Naughty Dog’s game for inspiration.
But even when wearing its inspirations up its sleeve, Revelations 2 feels a lot like Resident Evil. This is possibly the most the series has felt like the classic days in quite a while. The setting and atmosphere are great too, although the environments are pretty unremarkable by themselves, and some are really bland.
The game also finds a healthy balance between linear and open design, usually funneling us through linear paths until we reach a more open section where we’ll have to find a way to continue, usually involving exploration and some backtracking. There are also some basic puzzles, although nothing like the classic era, unfortunately.
Revelations 2 has also seen somewhat of a rocky start, plagued with performance and technical issues. All versions of the game have performance problems that haven’t been patched, mostly related to framerate. The PC version of the game also released without splitscreen co-op as advertised, and was patched days later. Some people who bought the season pass through PlayStation Network (me included) are unable to access the Throwback Map Pack in Raid Mode. Some people can’t download Episode 2 after buying the whole season after Episode 1. To the day of this review, Capcom is yet to address most of these issues.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 is pretty good from what I’ve played. With its creepy setting, tight combat, emphasis on survival gameplay and one of the best implementations of coop in the series, the game is hitting all the right notes for me so far. At the same time, it still feels like a budget game, with mediocre graphics and tons of recycled assets.