The original Dead Space took the survival-horror genre back a step — in a good way — by returning the focus to horror. Since then that series, like the genre as a whole, has returned to more action-oriented sequences. That’s one of the reasons we were so excited by The Evil Within at E3: it’s refreshingly scary as Hell. Thankfully, Capcom has made sure we don’t have to wait for a nice dose of fright, as Resident Evil Revelations is available here and now.
Resident Evil Revelations isn’t technically new; the game began as a 3DS title and has been upgraded with HD graphics for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii U. As such, if you’ve already played the game on 3DS, there’s nothing really new here other than sexier graphics. But with the 3DS only recently selling better, this is likely your first experience with Resident Evil Revelations, and it’s generally a decent one.
As with any Resident Evil game, Revelations hinges on a deadly virus that mutates/zombifies/generally-makes-unpleasant people who would be otherwise normal. In this case, the T-Abyss virus has decimated a cruise ship and put franchise stalwart Jill Valentine in harm’s way, along with series newbie Parker Luciani. Naturally, it’s up to this dynamic duo to blast their way through waves of sometimes-sneaky barnacle-covered baddies.
Yes, barnacles. Remember that first creepy-yet-captivated feeling you got when you first saw Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean? Capcom must have had (and liked) that same feeling. The enemies in Resident Evil Revelations look like they were pulled from the nightmarish depths of Davy Jones’ locker. This is great from a survival-horror aspect, because the creatures you’re killing feel unlike any you’ve played against before. It also means the “gotcha” moments when creatures jump out at you from hip-deep water feel all the more immersive.
Resident Evil Revelations isn’t all wading-game moments, though. True, most of the game you play as Jill, but the game alternates at certain points between playing a mission in Jill’s wheelhouse and playing one that features a different location, different time period and, consequently, a different character. It sounds a bit disjointed at first, but being able to play as several characters (including Chris Redfield) breaks up a cruise ship world that could’ve otherwise gotten a tad monotonous.
Oddly, though, monotony seems somewhat embedded in the game, and these episodic sequences can’t completely overcome it. For instance, I’m all for resource conservation; it was one of the most white-knuckled aspects of Dead Space. But in Resident Evil Revelations you literally have to go back to areas you’ve previously visited just to get a weapon. Ammo is scarce, but weapons are sometimes even moreso, to the point that you may end up with a pocketful of ammo for a gun you don’t even have. Unless you backtrack to find it, that is. Boss battles can get monotonous too due to their incredible difficulty, with one-hit defeats and incessantly-spawning-enemies the name of the game. On the 3DS that may have been OK, but in a console world where expectations are a tad higher, the cheapness of these boss battles really stands out.
Granted, the game’s 10-hour campaign isn’t all about boss battles, but they didn’t feel like the enjoyably epic experience they’re supposed to be for the end to a level. Fortunately, the story and episode-like structure between those battles is much better. Sometimes the hit detection and movement can seem a bit off, but those are the exceptions rather than the rule. Plus, the game’s horde-like Raid Mode is a lot of fun to play cooperatively online, and boss battles never rear their ugly head there.
With Resident Evil Revelations as an arguably mixed bag, it’s hard to award it anything other than an “average” score. The focus on “horror” is a welcome reversion in the survival-horror genre, and the episodic feel of playing with several characters breaks up the action nicely. The boss battles do stink, but the fast pace of the online Raid Mode makes up for it somewhat. If you’re a big franchise fan, you’ll likely enjoy this rebooted-for-HD entry. If you’re not, it’s best to rent Resident Evil Revelations first.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360