The Resident Evil franchise reaches back a long way, all the way back to the original PlayStation era. Resident Evil Revelations is yet another addition in this long line of Capcom’s survival horror games. It is the eighth game in the main series, and the second overall on the 3DS. It handles smoothly on the handheld, looks great in 3D, and shows off Jill Valentine’s better assets. But is it actually an enjoyable experience?
Genre: Third-Person Survival Startle
Release Date: February 7, 2012
ESRB Rating: Mature
The Resident Evil Revelations demo starts out with Jill Valentine waking up in some dingy bedroom. She’s contacted by someone named Parker, who asks her where she is. She says she’s not sure, but it looks familiar… like some sort of mansion. He tells her to get to the bridge, and she says OK. This was all kind of confusing to me, because if you think you are in a mansion, why would someone telling you to “get to the bridge” make any kind of sense? Sure, the first chapter is called “Ghost Ship,” so I was able to cobble together enough clues to figure out what was going on, but it just seemed like a really strange way to start things off.
From that point on, you have to figure out how to get out of the room you’re in, which takes only a little bit of exploration – and draining a really gross bathtub. You also encounter your first gross monster here, a slow-moving, jerking, fleshy creature that sticks a tube out if you get close enough and tries to suck on you. Smashing Y repeatedly will get that creep off of you – Jill pushes it off and then gives it a nice kick. You have your first puzzle in this room – using a screwdriver to unlock the door’s electronic locking mechanism, and then fiddling with the wires – which utilizes the touch screen fairly well, if rather blandly.
From there, it’s sadly mostly just lather, rinse, and repeat. You explore some hallways, open some creaky doors, fight some monsters, get some monsters dropped on your head, face an exploding monster, face a monster that will likely put you down in one hit if you aren’t careful, and pick up a bunch of items. You start with just a handgun, but pick up a shotgun along the way, which packs a real punch, especially in close quarters.
The controls are very fluid, though at first they felt a bit awkward. Holding down R aims the gun, and Y fires your bullets, of which you have a limited amount. Hitting B while aiming reloads the gun. X is for melee with a knife, and again, there was a strange moment when I realized that – much like there was a counter for bullets for the guns – there was a counter for the knife as well, and it was just an infinite sign. I questioned the need for that. If the point was to make me laugh, well, consider that a success. I love having infinite knife.
One thing that players can look forward to is that Capcom will be including full support for the Circle Pad Pro. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that both the game and the attachment will be released on February 7. There is a lot of potential here for the Circle Pad Pro to bring even more fluidity to the game’s mechanics. For me, anything that makes aiming and shooting smoother in a survival horror game gets a (calloused) thumb’s up.
Of course, there is no strafing, which is to be expected. You move around with the nub, and if you hold down R, the nub lets you aim your gun. You can also switch weapons by using the d-pad, which is very smooth and intuitive. Honestly, though, you can get by most enemies simply by running past them. There are a few parts where you’re a bit surrounded, or the narrow hallway won’t let you get by, and those are the times you need to back up (if a door hasn’t shut behind you already) and either start firing or stabbing – whichever you prefer.
There is no “health meter,” per se – you know you’re hurting when the screen gets splattered with blood. The more blood splatter, the closer you are to death. If you pick up some herbs (though I’m not sure exactly where Jill put that entire plant on her skintight suit), you can hit A to replenish your health. Otherwise, YOU ARE DEAD, as the game likes to rub in your face, and you’ve got to start the demo over again from the beginning.
Resident Evil Revelations is shaping up to be a decent game. It’s not really anything new or special – if anything, it’s hearkening back to the older days of low health, very limited ammo, and monsters that tend to be bullet sponges, making you think about how to attack (do I go around? Do I melee with my infinite knife? Etc). While it didn’t scare me so much as startle me – there’s nothing really all that scary about a monster falling on my head, but it definitely made me shout – it’s still got that same horror vibe that made these games so famous. There’s definitely potential here to be another success in this already established franchise. And if worse comes to worse, you could pay the money to stare at Jill Valentine’s assets for a few hours, solve some puzzles, and kill some monsters.