“Arrr, she be a fine sea-faring vessel that one.”
Resident Evil Revelations initially released on the Nintendo 3DS in January 2012 to positive reviews. The game was billed as a side-reboot of the franchise, keeping the modernised gameplay of Resident Evil 4 while taking inspirations from the series roots, opting for suspense over fast paced action. The game was re-released as a high definition remaster on the PS4 and Xbox One last Tuesday and as usual I’ll be covering the PS4 version of the game, going over the positives and negatives and whether it’s worth picking up for the £15.99 asking price.
I have something of a love/hate relationship with the Resident Evil franchise; the original three titles on the PlayStation 1 will always be the textbook definition of survival horror done right in my opinion, but from Resident Evil 4 onward the series began to favour fast paced action over the suspense and atmosphere of its predecessors. Resident Evil 4 was an excellent game, but it marked a change that didn’t sit well with myself and other long time fans of the franchise; the titles that followed (Resident Evil 5 & 6) followed suit with the change in gameplay, moving the series from survival horror to a more action-adventure oriented experience. Thankfully, the series has returned to its roots somewhat with the release of Resident Evil 7, which has revived a lot of the aspects found in the original titles, while simultaneously revolutionising the gameplay yet again under the guise of the PT-esque first person perspective found in many modern day horror titles.
Resident Evil Revelations attempted a similar change of pace when it released in 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS, keeping the action-oriented gameplay found in RE4 while adapting it to focus on survival, evasion and exploration instead of all out combat. The game was re-released as a HD remaster last Tuesday for the PS4 and Xbox One offering fluid 60fps gameplay and improved 1080p visuals over the original. While it plays very similar to RE4, the change in suspense is exactly what the series prior to RE7 was missing, and sees a return to form that this series desperately needed at this point in time. There are fewer enemies present at any one time to be sure, but that is what makes the encounters that much more tense, especially so when you have to manage your ammunition and health items simultaneously.
Ooze: The creatures known as the Ooze come in many different forms in Resident Evil Revelations.
The game’s narrative sets it between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5, where you play as series veteran Jill Valentine and her new partner Parker Luciani as they investigate an abandoned cruise ship called the Queen Zenobia for it’s link to a bioterrorist organisation called Veltro, as well as it being the last known location of Jill’s former partner: Chris Redfield. From the moment Jill and Parker arrive on the ship it becomes abundantly clear that something isn’t right. As they explore the eerily silent and dark, haunting corridors of the Zenobia they soon realise that a new virus is running rampant on the ship, turning its former inhabitants into hideously mutated creatures known collectively as the Ooze. Overall the game’s creature design is pretty solid, basing their design on different deep sea creatures which works well in conjunction with the overall tone of the game. The game is designed in a TV-Style format, with each chapter being an episode in the overall ‘season’. There are twelve episodes in total, with a run time between 7-9 hours depending on how long you spend exploring the game’s environments.
As aforementioned, the core gameplay is very similar to that of Resident Evil 4, with a number of key differences; the most notable being the constant shift in protagonist. Throughout the games twelve episodes the narrative will jump between timelines and characters to fill in certain areas of the story, with Jill acting as the main constant protagonist of the bunch. The combat is about what you can expect from a 2nd Gen Resident Evil game, being no different than that found in Resident Evil 4 & 5. One of the more interesting features included this time around is the handgun-shaped bio-scanner called ‘Genesis’. It allows the player to scan the environment for hidden items such as bullets and green herbs (The RE cast sure love the ol’ Jamaican cabbage don’t they?) which is extremely helpful on the game’s hardest difficulty, where these items are especially scarce. The scanner also aids in keeping the player stocked up with health items where there are none to be found, as the device can scan the remains of dead enemies and work towards developing ‘vaccines’ which come in the form of additional green herbs; while hard to explain scientifically, it’s a mechanic that definitely sets Resident Evil Revelations apart from other entries in the series. Additionally there is a deep level of weapon customisation present in the game, that can be applied to a number of the games firearms; however these modifications cannot be crafted and need to be sought out by exploring the game’s environments, working as a great incentive to explore what the Zenobia has to offer.
The Queen Zenobia has many different environments that the player can explore across the campaign, complete with their own unique and horrifying inhabitants.
As much as Resident Evil Revelations stands out as a solid little action/horror hybrid, it isn’t without its flaws. For starters the movement animations don’t transition well from the 3DS, with you constantly having to stop and readjust the direction you want to move in. This bleeds over into the aiming as well, and while the aiming speed can be changed under the games settings, I constantly found myself over and under aiming depending on the setting that I had it placed on. Additionally the game was billed to be the best looking version of the game to date, and while it does look great in 1080p you can tell that the game wasn’t created with the PlayStation 4 in mind. Throughout the game low resolution textures and dodgy looking corpse models litter the environments, breaking away from the immersion and making you realise that the game was originally meant to be played on the 240p screen of the Nintendo 3DS.
Despite its technical hang-ups, Resident Evil Revelations stands up as a unique and innovative title for its time, without breaking the mould of the classic Resident Evil formula too much. It’s definitely worth picking up if you’ve never played it before, and with the Resident Evil 2 remake (hopefully) just around the corner, Resident Evil Revelations is just the meal ticket you need to get you back into the classic survival horror gameplay found in the roots of the franchise.