Set between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil Revelations is a portable thrill-ride that combines a lot of elements from the series. This the second Resident Evil game to hit the 3DS and is a more robust experience than Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. Players take control of Jill Valentine and a host of other characters to explore a derelict cruise shp in search of the missing Chris Redfield and his partner. Is the adventure worth the price of admission? Or will it make players want to abandon ship?
Developer: Capcom, Tose
Genre: Portable, Playable Prime-Time Survival Horror
Release Date: February 7, 2012
ESRB Rating: Mature
Resident Evil Revelations plays out like a series of episodes, complete with recap sequences that highlight important scenes from the previous one. The game follows the efforts of Jill Valentine and her partner, Parker Luciani, in their search for Chris Redfield on the SS Queen Zenobia. Crawling around this ship are Bio-Organic Weapons (B.O.W.s) called Ooze, infected with the T-Abyss virus. These enemies are different from the usual set of shuffle-stepping zombies or Plaga-infected people. What makes the Ooze scary is that they look like the unholy lovechild of a Silent Hill nurse and a Dead Space Necromorph. If that wasn’t enough to fuel some sweat-inducing nightmares for the next few weeks, they also pop out of vents and shafts at random. When you combine this happy fact with the claustrophobic setting of a ship at sea, you get a great survival horror game.
What might not be so great with some players is the return of the tank-like controls that the series is known for. If you’ve never encountered these kinds of controls and are used to running and gunning in third-person shooters, then you might just throw your 3DS at a wall. But for those who are used to the stop-turn-go controls of the classic Resident Evil games, there is some solace in the fact that you can strafe slowly while you’re aiming down the sights. With a bit of practice, you can become an expert at dodging the Ooze by combining strafing, shooting, running, and quick 180-turn strategies. The game tries to change the pacing by allowing you to control others characters in flashbacks and events that run concurrently with Jill’s investigation. So while you might sparingly use herbs and manage your ammo for Jill in one episode, the next episode might have you control Chris in a flashback where he’s packing a full arsenal of guns and plentiful ammunition. These types of scenes serve to keep the game from feeling too slow.
One new addition to gameplay is the Genesis scanning system. The Genesis is a device players can use to scope out hidden objects in the environment via a first-person view. If a player is thorough, they can find extra ammo, handprints to collect for bonuses, and maybe even parts for customizing weapons. The Genesis can also be used as impromptu night-vision goggles and can even help you detect enemies hiding in water. One of the most beneficial uses for the Genesis is scanning enemies. Each time you scan an enemy, living or dead, you’re given a percentage for the rate of T-Abyss virus analysis. Once that percentage reaches 100%, you’re given an herb. So scanning often might help save your life.
While you’re fighting for your life, you might stop and notice that while the enemies are grotesque and the ship’s interior is creepy, everything also looks pretty aesthetically pleasant. Revelations just might be one of the best-looking games on the 3DS. Shadows pervade the backgrounds, lights are bright where they need to be, metallic objects are shiny and reflective, and the textures are fantastic. In 3D, everything looks that much better and the game is much more immersive. But even if you keep the 3D off, the graphics should impress any 3DS owner. The character models are probably the most detailed I’ve seen on a 3DS title. Even minutiae like Parker’s anchor tattoo on his hairy left arm is clear when viewed up close. In terms of graphical quality on the 3DS, Revelations is tough to beat.
The sounds in the game also do an amazing job of pulling you into the terror. You’ll hear ocean waves, unidentifiable sounds that may or may not be an enemy lurking around the corner, the pitter-patter of footsteps on all kinds of terrain, the satisfying rustling of herbs being picked up, and a host of other noises that draw you further into the game. In addition to wonderful peripheral noises, the voice acting is done well. Each character’s dialogue and line delivery is up to par with the rest of the series. Of course this means that there is some cheesy dialogue, but at least we’re spared from lines of the “Jill sandwich” variety. With that said, there were only two characters, BSAA agents Keith and Quint, who I would not mind if they died. I’m not too sure if they were meant to be comic relief characters, but they just sounded like two “bros” who joined the BSAA to shoot guns and be awesome, but failed horribly at the latter.
It would probably be interesting to play the game on a weekly basis, completing one episode per week like a television show. If you don’t want to prolong the horror that way and end up completing it within 13-20 hours, you’ll want to check out Raid Mode. This is Revelations’ multiplayer mode and allows you to connect with other players online to take on a myriad of enemies. Stages are set in specific parts of the story and require teams to take down as many B.O.W.s as they can for experience points and customization parts. This mode is pretty fun and would be appealing for players who prefer a more action-oriented Resident Evil experience, similar to that of Resident Evil 4 and 5.
Revelations is one of the better Resident Evil releases in a long time and definitely the best one released on a portable system. It takes elements that worked in previous Resident Evil titles and combines them to create a survival horror that will appeal to both fans of the classic tank-style games and the newer, action-thriller iterations. It may not be perfect in terms of story, but the episodic presentation is interesting and the production values are some of the best I’ve seen on a handheld.
Review Disclosure: A review copy of Resident Evil Revelations was provided by Capcom for the purposes of this review.