Release Date: February 24, 2015Platform: PS4 (reviewed), PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PCDeveloper: CapcomPublisher: CapcomGenre: Survival Horror
Editor’s Note: Since Resident Evil Revelations 2 is an episodic title that released in four separate chapters over a month, we decided to review the first chapter of the game and revisit the finished product at the end of the fourth episode. If you’ve already read our review of “Episode 1: Penal Colony,” scroll down to see our review of the game after playing through the rest of the game!
While the original Resident Evil Revelations was heralded as a return to the series’ survival-horror roots, it’s clear from the onset that Resident Evil Revelations 2 is a much more action-oriented affair. In many ways, Revelations 2 feels like a slimmer version of Resident Evil 6 with a much sharper focus. Capcom decided to split the game up into four parts and deliver them at a rate of one per week, in order to better mimic the heated discussion that often surrounds an episodic TV show. It was an interesting and rather unexpected decision, but one that ultimately pays off in the end, given what the game itself has to offer.
“Episode 1: Penal Colony” finds Claire Redfield abducted and held captive in a prison along with Moira Burton, the feisty teenage daughter of Resident Evil veteran Barry. They’ve also been outfitted with mysterious blinking bracelets, and there’s a creepy gamemaster-type woman who seems to be calling all the shots from a remote location. The entirety of the episode takes place within this island detention center and the surrounding forested area, and the story is just dripping with some kind of conspiracy.
Revelations 2 definitely has the look and feel of a low-budget title, with simple textures and the occasional wonky movements throughout. The script itself is equally B-horror, including a cringe worthy reference to almost becoming a “Claire sandwich” after narrowly avoiding a spinning blade trap. But hey, this is Resident Evil. For what it’s worth, the story held my interest for the entire time, and I appreciated how the game let me jump right into the action from the very beginning. This is a brisk and frantic gameplay experience, and frankly it’s something much needed in today’s age of long cinematics and quick time events.
Claire is the real star of the show here, but the newcomers bring an interesting spin to the gameplay. Moira refuses to use guns of any kind (I’m hoping we find out why at some point later on), so her contributions include a helpful melee attack via crowbar and temporarily stunning the Afflicted with her flashlight. Switching between Claire and Moira on the fly is a real thrill, especially in the heat of combat.
Barry and Natalia, a little orphan who’s also been kidnapped and brought to the island facility, offer a similar dynamic, with the latter being able to sense nearby enemies and set Barry up for a perfect stealth kill. However, these stealth sections can be hit or miss at times, and I just couldn’t seem to get used to Natalia’s ability to melee enemies with the small bricks you find scattered about.
As you might have guessed, Episode 1 is very short. I finished both Claire and Barry’s sections in less than two hours on my first go around, and a fair chunk of the time spent playing as Barry is used to confusedly retread through the detention center that you just fought through as Claire. But the emphasis in Revelations 2 is distinctly placed on replaying these two hours, rather than making it a “one and done” experience. In fact, the sheer incentive to do so can be overwhelming at times.
For starters, you have the unlockable Countdown and Invisible modes, which have you racing against the clock or dodging invisible monsters, respectively. Then there are medals, organized into unique lists of secondary objectives that must be completed across an entire playthrough. Conquering these tasks nets you further rewards, from character figurines to additional BP points that can be used to upgrade your abilities across all future episodes.
And then there’s Raid Mode, the quintessential add-on that became such a huge hit in the first Revelations game. Basically, Raid Mode consists of a series of action-based scenarios, which have you trekking through famous Resident Evil locations, killing hoards of enemies, and leveling up your skills and characters along the way. Here in Revelations 2, Raid Mode has been amplified by tenfold, and it is easily worth the price of admission alone.
With dozens upon dozens of missions and a huge roster of fan-favorite characters and weapons to complete them with, Raid Mode is still one of the most addicting and rewarding components of the Resident Evil franchise today. A handful of missions are available right from the start alongside Episode 1 (some of which feature a few familiar locations from Resident Evil 6), and its appeal is only heightened by the promise of online co-op support later down the road.
Capcom knew exactly what kind of game they wanted to make with Resident Evil Revelations 2. No bells or whistles, just a quick and satisfying burst of furious gameplay that’s nothing but fun. At first, I didn’t think I would like the episodic formula as implemented in a horror-action game like Resident Evil. But by the time the credits rolled and the cliffhanger twist sunk in, I was sold.
The end is upon us, as the final episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2 arrived yesterday. Now that I’ve finally had a chance to indulge myself in the remaining three episodes of Revelations 2 to learn how Claire and Barry’s intersecting stories ultimately converge, the verdict is clear: this is a Resident Evil game for the new age, and it’s a pretty damn good one at that.
Some of the most brilliant aspects of Revelations 2’s gameplay design are in the many ways that Claire and Barry’s campaigns influence and affect one another based on certain player choices. For instance, halfway through Claire’s Episode 2, you’ll have the option to either engage with a manic drill-wielding boss or simply dodge him until you can make a clean getaway. While escaping is clearly the easier and suggested option, taking down this boss early unlocks a significant shortcut through Barry’s section later on. The same goes for environmental puzzles as well. There were several times when thoroughly exploring my surroundings as Claire paid off by the time Barry retraced the same grounds, opening the way to inaccessible areas where new rare weapon parts could be found.
Episodes 2 and 3 are especially high points in the game, where the training wheels come off and players are confronted with a barrage of boss fights, puzzles, optional stealth maneuvers and every other classic Resident Evil thing you can think of in between: all while clocking in at a brisk runtime that can be completed in less than an hour each. I was amazed at how this meaty middle section of the game felt like such a smartly complex and interwoven adventure following the more streamlined and introductory Episode 1, while still being completely accessible as separate entities that are enjoyable in short bursts. This is likely to do with the game’s episodic format, which I think worked wonders in the way of pacing and storytelling. By spreading out the release of each episode to a single week apart, there emerges a fascinating amount of incentive to replay and master each section through speed runs and sparring with invisible monsters over those seven-day intervals.
Revelations 2 is most certainly a Resident Evil game, and it offers a comprehensive taste of the many things the series has come to represent over the years. But by being such a strong fixture in the Resident Evil canon, this means the writing is not without its cringe worthy moments. At one point in Episode 2, Moira accidentally swears in front of a younger character, referring to the Afflicted as “shit stains.” Not wanting to upset the small girl with bad language, Ms. Burton quickly corrects herself by calling them “butt stains,” after which she ominously reminds everyone “and you know what we do to butt stains, right?” That’s just one of the many choice dialogue sections that will make you do a double-take while you play. If these were included in any other game besides Resident Evil, it would likely slash score marks all across the board; but awkward moments like these seem oddly fitting and welcome in Revelations 2.
Capcom has mastered the art of campy dialogue and story scenarios, whether they’re really trying to or not. Sure, some of the well-calculated cliffhangers were stronger than others, but I was always looking forward to see what kind of crazy twists and turns were in store by the time the next episode rolled around. The narrative builds off its manipulation of events and the ways that characters don’t have many answers either, and this leaves room for some truly memorable moments and sinister villains that feel like they’ve been plucked straight out of a Saw film. The environments themselves are also just the right amount of creepy, and while you’ve still got some typical Resident Evil tropes like a deserted village and a maze-like sewer system, other areas like a bloody slaughterhouse and dusty mining town are welcomed changes of scenery along the way.
If there’s a low point to be had in all of Revelations 2, it will likely fall on the game’s weapon upgrade system, which pales in comparison to the complex mixing and matching you could do in the first Revelations. I think the main problem here is that there just aren’t enough weapon parts to collect throughout the four episodes, coupled with an even smaller number of guns to attach them to. I rarely found myself stopping at the generously placed workbenches throughout each episode to switch out different parts, as there honestly weren’t very many different combinations of fire rate and damage I could rely on. Of course, this certainly has the opposite effect in Raid Mode where picking up new weapons and fine-tuning their skills is the name of the game, but I just wish there could have been a fraction of that customizable depth to play around with in Claire’s and Barry’s campaigns.
I could have also done without the clunky boss fights that sporadically pepper the game and often slow down an otherwise breathless and deliberate progression. The majority of bosses are nothing you’ll want to write home about, and defeating them often requires no more ingenuity than simply pumping out as many bullets as you can muster. A certain boss in one chapter will then become an easier mini-boss in the next, and this repetition grows stale before long and further lessens the impact of what should have been one-and-done set pieces. This problem stands out the most in Episode 4, where a highly overblown final boss encounter results in a somewhat short and anticlimactic conclusion given the strength of the two middle episodes that directly precede it.
Unfortunately, the game loses a lot of its steam with Episode 4, thanks to a frustratingly short Claire section and an overly bloated Barry finale. The imbalance here is certainly unexpected, given the precision and interconnectedness that defines the first three episodes, and Barry’s section is made that much more of a slog by another “defend the room” type of scenario and a very obtuse crane puzzle. The one saving grace is a surprising throwback towards the end of Barry’s chapter, which is sure to get Resident Evil fans talking. But even though the ending left me feeling a little deflated once the final credits rolled, it doesn’t tarnish the great experience of everything that comes before it.
In a way, I feel like Resident Evil Revelations 2 is the game that Resident Evil 6 probably should have been. It takes some risks with the delivery, offers unique and intertwining perspectives, and doesn’t have that bloated feeling thanks to a quick and perfectly paced campaign. Throw in cooperative play, the unbelievably thorough and addictive Raid Mode (which only gets better and better as each episode unlocks further new maps, weapons, and character skins), and you’ve got a complete and total package that will have something to enjoy for every kind of Resident Evil fan. After playing Revelations 2, I can only hope that Capcom continues to experiment with their clever and highly effective episodic format, and that a second set of new episodes will be in the cards one day.