A Shocking Reveal
Resident Evil has become the butt of every zombie joke over the past few years. The last exclusive console offering, Resident Evil 6 , literally had Leon Kennedy running across the top of exploding cars in a way that would bring a tear to Michael Bay’s eye. It was followed up by Resident Evil Revelations , a midquel which was much lower key, but suffered due to its origins as a 3DS title. Now, Resident Evil Revelations 2 , a console exclusive “sequel” to the original 3DS title, is looking to revive the honor of the Resident Evil name. In a way, it succeeds, but as is the case with the Resident Evil series, reviving someone from the dead doesn’t always go as planned, and you end up with this weird mutant monstrosity rather than what you were expecting.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 puts you in control of two sets of characters. The first is Claire Redfield and Barry Burton’s teenage daughter Moira, who were kidnapped and sent to a penal colony (hence the subtitle of this episode) filled with a bunch of mutated abominations that probably have something to do with Umbrella or whatever. It’s not like the plot is dropping any bombshell revelations on us at this point, despite the title. The second team is Barry himself, who has come to the colony to rescue his daughter, and a young girl with mysterious powers named Natalia.
One character in each pair is responsible for combat, which plays like pretty much every other Resident Evil game since 4 , while the other uses secondary abilities. Moira, for example, holds the flashlight that allows Claire to see in the darkened prison corridors, while Natalia can fit through small spaces, sense zombies before they even show up, and sneak by enemies undetected. You can switch between the two at will and will need to in order to solve some co-op themed puzzles, but most of the time you’ll want to stick with the combat character in order to avoid getting eaten. Natalia can be fun, turning the game into something of a stealth affair and painting targets for Barry to riddle full of bullets, but I dreaded any time I spent as Moira, as her only real uses seemed to be to blind enemies and act as bait.
The game is also split into two very different gameplay experiences, a lot like Resident Evil 6 was. Claire and Moira have sections that are more based on action-style gameplay. The enemies they face off against are fast and dangerous, and most of the time you’ll simply be moving from one room to another waiting to kill the next group of enemies that assault you.
Barry and Natalia, on the other hand, have much more traditional Resident Evil style gameplay. The enemies they face are more the slow, shambling type which gradually become a threat as you ignore them, and their gameplay focuses on puzzle solving with a little bit of maze traversal.
Even so, there is nothing here that really counts as horror or survival horror. At no point was I scared while playing the game. Heck, I wasn’t really even fearful of dying. The only real moments of fright are a jump scare or two as zombies break through doors.
Ammo and life flow like water, making it very easy to get from one set piece to the next, and it was never difficulty that got me to eventually turn the game off, but rather tedium. I’d get stuck not knowing where to go next, running through corridors and fighting the an easily dispatched zombie here or there, and eventually I would just stop wanting to go forward because killing that same shambler just got boring.
This is partially due to the game’s environmental design, which is sadly lacking. Granted, you are inside a penal colony and those aren’t exactly known for their bright decorations, but even so, most of the environments are made up of grey-brown corridors leading to other grey-brown corridors. It’s that rusted metal chic that every horror game since Silent Hill seems to want to show off. These samey environments make it easy to get turned around or just get bored of the world around you.
Enemy design is similarly uninspired. You have your standard slow zombie, fast zombie, hulking zombie, and all the other zombie stereotypes that you’ve seen from zombie games past. You never get to a point where you encounter an enemy and go “oh crap,” as if you have finally met your match. The low difficulty of the game also plays into this, as enemies feel more like an inconvenience than a threat.
One of the small pleasures of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is its writing. Specifically, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. You aren’t rescuing the president or trying to protect China from biological warfare. The story is kept small and personal, and it benefits from that. In addition, the story makes a lot of references to Resident Evil blunders of the past. From promotional videos showing the “obviously not evil” pharmaceutical corporation helping out people in Africa and Spain, to Claire commenting about how she almost became a “Claire sandwich,” Resident Evil: Revelations 2 likes to take the piss out of itself, which lightens the mood and goes a long way toward bolstering suspension of disbelief.
Co-op play is a bit of a mixed bag. While it’s nice to be able to bring a friend along for a ride, they are basically relegated to playing the secondary character. Humans are better than A.I. in these roles, but that doesn’t make them any more fun. You’ll frequently find yourself fighting with your friend about who gets to carry the gun.
Luckily, you can always just go into Raid mode if you both want to have some shooting fun. Like before, these are basically just shooting galleries where you hold out against waves of enemies. It’s fun, and you can spend ages getting new skills and unlocking new bonuses, but in the end the only thing really rewarding in Raid mode is playing it. There’s no real end and bonuses don’t carry over to the main game, so it’s a diversion at most.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 Episode 1 – Penal Colony has a lot of ups and downs. Combat isn’t great, and the environments are boring, but the story is fun, and playing the game in co-op, while certainly weighted toward the combat character, makes the experience a lot better. It’s not quite the Resident Evil we all wanted, but it’s a lot better than Resident Evil 6 was, and I was one of those weirdos that liked Resident Evil 6 . If Capcom keeps making Resident Evil games closer to this formula, then maybe one day it will take its place on the throne as king of survival horror once more. We just aren’t quite there yet.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
The current-gen versions of the game are quite impressive, yet limited by the uninspired environments. 4.0 Control
The controls are probably the best part, feeling tight and giving you a fighting chance. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The writing is OK and the voice acting is decent, but there are some really bad moments, and almost all of them come from Moira. 3.5 Play Value
The game has some flaws, but for now it’s just a setup and as a setup, it’s decent. 3.6 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best