By: Kyle Grubb
There are an exorbitant amount of colons in that title. Either way, though, we’re finally tackling a brand new game in the Resident Evil series. I can’t believe I’m saying that. Now, I originally was planning on reviewing Resident Evil 6 first, but there are a few reasons that isn’t happening:
1 – I took too long beating this series, and the first episode of this game already came out
2 – After struggling to push through 5 alone, I’m working on 6 with one of my friends. As such, it takes longer because we need our schedules to match up.
3 – Resident Evil 6 is probably the longest game in the series, with 4 moderately lengthy campaigns.
4 – Since I’ve been doing the other games in chronological order in-universe, and this game falls between the events of 5 and 6, it just keeps all of this consistent.
I probably could have waited, passed on my chance to play this game and focused more on playing through 6, but I’ve been really curious about this game for a while. That, and I have no self control. Sue me.
This game had my interest for a few reasons right from the get go. For one, it was promised to be a bit more of a return to the atmospheric roots of the series. All of the trailers I had seen had the characters dealing with dark environments, dangerous traps, and horribly disfigured enemies. It had reminded me of 4 (bear in mind that was the first game in the series I had played by this point) and that was a great thing in my mind. I was also intrigued by the concept of the game featuring asymmetric co-op, of the two characters each bringing different abilities to the table.
I actually liked the concept of an episodic release for the game, especially once I found out that each episode would come out only a week after the next. There isn’t a Telltale-level wait going on here. I reasoned that it would be easier to get a friend to help pound through the game if we could get through each episode in a single sitting. With this episode, that did turn out to be correct.
Claire Redfield wakes up in a grungy jail cell, a shadow wandering away just before either she or the player can get a view of it. On her wrist is a bracelet glowing green. Moments later, the cell’s door slides open. Clearly we aren’t only a prisoner. Distant yells lead us to Claire’s friend Moira, the daughter of fan favorite Barry Burton. Neither girl knows where they are, but each is aware that they need to escape. In the darkness, they push forward until they stumble across a huge circular shaft. In the middle of this shaft, human-shaped bags are hung by hooks from the ceiling. Closer inspection reveals blood dripping from some of them.
This is Resident Evil.
Episode 1 of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 wastes no time presenting us with an interesting mystery that needs solving. Digging through the environments and analyzing the various files scattered around the place can provide depth to both the true meaning for the dangerous place the characters find themselves and also some of the possible motivations for the game’s mysterious antagonist. In addition, the ending of this first episode manages to provide one of the strongest hooks to a story in this series in quite some time. Possibly ever. If this pace continues, this game may stand out as possessing one of the best stories in the entire franchise.
Players take control of two pairs of characters, starting with Claire and Moira. Claire plays like the typical Resident Evil protagonist, taking charge and fighting off the forces of creepy evilness with her arsenal of weaponry. Moira, on the other hand, refuses to use guns for reasons not yet explained in the story. Instead, she mans the flashlight and has a crowbar at her side. The flashlight allows Moira to blind enemies, allowing critical damage, while the crowbar can be used to unlock certain chests and fight off any enemies that slip past Claire. The second pair, though, finally has our good friend Barry stepping up to the plate. Barry is accompanied by Natalia, a young girl with the ability to detect enemies through walls and point out the weakpoints of certain foes. While playing alone, players can swap between the two characters with the press of a button, but if you have a friend next to you, they can control the secondary character alongside you. If you have a friend that is willing to do something different from the norm and not necessarily be a dangerous powerhouse, both of you can get an incredibly rewarding experience out of the campaign.
Gameplay is tight and rewarding. The game clearly uses an adapted system from the first Revelations, but with less ammo to grab and more ways to approach situations the game feels much more tense. While some enemies can take quite a lot of punishment, particularly on higher difficulties, it never gets to the same degree of frustration from that first game, where every enemy felt like a bullet sponge. Using the abilities of the partner characters allows more strategy when it comes to fighting certain enemies, and there are even moments during Barry’s section where handling the enemies with stealth was a legitimate option. With players also able to craft items together using things found in the environment, I would occasionally get moments where I was reminded of The Last of Us. That’s a positive comparison for me, by the way, for all of you people that disliked the gameplay in that game.
The enemies were interesting, though the current selection of foes is limited. There are a few variations on the basic enemy, each of which acts slightly different, and also the mandatory “large dangerous enemy who takes a lot of bullets to drop that has a large scary weapon” which you have to deal with a few times. The most fascinating enemy is saved for the later half of Barry’s section, and requires players to use Natalia’s ability to handle them with any efficiency. Neither campaign has any boss enemies, though I suspect we’ll probably get a few of those by the next episode. As it is, both Claire and Barry’s parts end with a desperate battle with a large amount of enemies. Both prove to be effective finales, and each wisely allows a story reveal to be what truly closes out the chapters.
All together, it took my friend and I just under 2 hours to complete the campaign for Episode 1 on Normal difficulty. While this isn’t terribly long, tackling it on the harder difficulties ups the challenge greatly and, personally made the game a bit more enjoyable to me. After beating the game, you also unlock two alternate modes that change the way you play. Countdown Mode gives players a clock that they’re constantly battling against, while Invisible mode turns all of the enemies Invisible (big shock) and can only be seen momentarily by using Moira’s flashlight or Natalia’s pointing. I really recommend not attempting Invisible Mode without a friend, mind you. Just a personal suggestion…
The games look good on next gen consoles. I played on my PS4, and the environments were detailed and the character models looked pretty good. That being said, the game is clearly a bit of a budget title, with the full version finding itself under $30. It doesn’t push any boundaries, and clearly recycles some animations and movements to save on some work. The sound design is stellar, though, and the voice acting is pretty good for the main cast. There a few call-outs from the original game’s hilarious dialogue, all at the expense of Barry, and its fun to see the game give reference to some of the more ridiculous parts of its history.
Really, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 appears to be shaping up as a love letter to fans of the franchise. It’s clear that Capcom is aware of the disappointment many of its diehard fans have been experiencing, and this game is very much a step in the right direction. While there are few scares, it very much harkens back to the atmospheric moments of 4 and earlier. I’d argue that it does things that some of those games never succeeded in doing. Crouching down in the woods, hiding in some bushes and waiting for a chance to slip past some enemies so as to conserve the small amount of ammo I had left, I truly felt that the Survival part of Survival Horror has never been more appropriate for this franchise.
Lastly, Raid Mode has returned from the first Revelations , and its better than ever. Episode 1 comes bundled with a fair amount of content: 18 levels, each with 3 difficulty levels to play through. In addition, no longer do all of your characters share levels. Each character is leveled individually, and the game has an addictive and in depth sense of progression. As characters level up, they unlock new active and passive skills that can be put into various skill slots. Players are also rewarded with skill points, which they can use to level up the skills they’re interested in. The level at which you can unlock skills and extra weapon slots, along with a slightly different selection of skills to choose from, allows each character to feel unique. As you play through the various levels, you also can push yourself to unlock medallions. Gathering the 5 medallions for each level and leveling up all of the characters given to us so far provides players with far more value than the $6 entry price would suggest. Heck, I’ve played full priced games with less content than this first episode, and I still haven’t completed everything yet. Also, for players that pre-ordered the full game, you have even more levels to tackle. Darn me and my lack of punctuality.
I’m a bit in love with everything Capcom has done with this game so far. It clearly has listened to the fans and taken a step back to reevaluate what the series should be. This is the strongest game in the series for quite a while, at least so far, and if the rest of the game can match this quality, it’s the game that longtime fans of Resident Evil have been waiting for. I have very little to complain about, and at $6, it’s hard to recommend anything other than at least giving it a shot. While the campaign itself may not be too terribly long, the extra modes unlocked, and Raid Mode in particular, provide the game with a large amount to do as we wait for next Tuesday. I’ve plugged in over 12 hours into the game, and am planning on diving back in right after finishing up this review. If you’ve ever found yourself enjoying a Resident Evil game, I can’t stress enough that this game deserves a look. I doubt you’ll regret giving it the chance.
Resident Evil-ness: 10/10
Overall: (Not an average) 9/10
Also, I just want to give a shoutout to my friend Andrew for tackling the campaign with me and having no problem playing as the secondary characters. Also a bigger shoutout to him for foolishly agreeing to play through RE6 with me. He had no idea what he was signing up for.