When I was given a copy of Resident Evil Revelations, I immediately had reservations. I really enjoyed the new direction of Resident Evil VII and wasn’t sure if I could go back to the insanity of Capcom’s convoluted (yet entertaining) vision of a zombie apocalypse. The thing is though, after being reacquainted with Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield as they investigate an impossibly furnished cargo ship filled with aquatic-themed zombies and have regular encounters with a character that looks like a Japanese Conan O’Brien, well how could I stay away?
Revelations, much like its brethren, has a pretty ridiculous plot when you actually sit down and think about it. Set after Resident Evil 4 but before Resident Evil 5, Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield are hot on the heels of a terrorist organization calling itself Veltro who, for reasons that aren’t abundantly clear, launch a bioterror attack on Terragrigia, an artificial island city that conducted advance research into solar energy, filling it with B.O.W.s and decimating the civilization population. In response, the powers that be fry the city with its own solar satellite to purge the city at the expense of its existence. The broken monument to solar science stands like a looming shadow over the events of the game. Jill and Chris, now working with the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, split up to track down Veltro and bring them to justice. A plan, as expected, is easier said than done.
Revelations isn’t a new game in the longstanding franchise. It originally came out for the Nintendo 3DS in 2012 and earned its fair share of praise, both as a 3DS game and a series installment. The game was then ported to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii, a move that completely flew past my radar. Now that it has found its way onto the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (and on the Nintendo Switch later this year), it is a game that has become hard to miss. To be honest, I’m surprised that the game has been ported so much because it makes it look like Capcom is desperate to keep the series in the public eye. On the other hand, it’s really nice that you can get all the Resident Evil games on current consoles (except for Resident Evil 2, sadly) and for as silly as they can be, they represent an important chapter in the history of video game making.
Back to the topic at hand, Resident Evil Revelations feature a design that harkens back to the original game--before secret underground prisons, the alleyways of Raccoon City, and Africa’s shantytowns and swamps. One of the game’s primary locations is a cargo vessel anchored in the Mediterranean Sea featuring an interior design similar to the Spencer Mansion--because it’s not Resident Evil without a creepy looking mansion to explore. The ship’s size allows for a nice nuance in level design, such as luxurious living quarters, a casino, and even a market. Even with these varied environments, the game retains the claustrophobic feel of the older games where you never knew what lies just around the corner. Zombies (designed with a more aquatic flair) have a habit of slinking out of vents, lockers, and stalls making you want to keep your gun drawn at all times. Not all parts of the ship are immediately accessible. Advancement typically requires collecting special keys and completing some light puzzles--again, typical hallmarks of the classic franchise. In a lot of ways, Revelations does a lot to maintain the spirit of the very first Resident Evil and I enjoy that quite a bit.
Scattered among the abandoned wreckage of the cargo ship are a myriad of weapons and health items to keep yourself afloat against the zombie menace. The game does a great job of giving you just enough ammo to keep you going and also making each item pickup feel like an oasis in a desert. I feel like this game is more generous when it comes to health items than others. You’ll find the classic green herbs in various spots (they cannot be combined with other herbs, though) and earn more by using the Genesis Scanner. This device allows you to scan enemies, earning a range of percentage points and when that percentage reaches 100, you get a free green herb. The Genesis Scanner is also useful for sussing out hidden health and ammo pickups. It pays to sweep every room you walk into with Genesis lest you miss out on valuable resources. I just wish the scanner did more than reveal hidden goods. The game’s load screens indicate that shooting an enemy's weak spot will make them go down quicker but there’s nothing to indicate what their weaknesses are. Sure, headshots help but if there was a way to use the scanner in combat and find out a faster, more efficient way to take down monsters, it would have been great. It might even save me from the frustration I felt with the game’s bullet sponge bosses.
On a technical level, Resident Evil Revelations is a pretty good port of the original game. Though I never played it on the Nintendo 3DS, I’m immediately grateful for the dual analog stick functionality (I was never satisfied with the handheld’s analog stick for action games). The characters control pretty smoothly and don’t have the clunkiness of games like Code Veronica or the “stop to shoot” mechanic of Resident Evil 4 and 5. Even the visuals look good enough for an older title. I mean, there are some textures that look really bad up close but the majority of the visuals don’t have that “copy of a copy” look. And best of all, the framerate is really slick and smooth.
Resident Evil VII took the franchise in a new and fascinating direction that I can’t wait to see further explored. However, it games like Resident Evil Revelations that serve as a reminder of how far this series has gone since its debut in 1996. The Xbox One version of Revelations is a good transfer of the 3DS copy though you can still see the concessions made for the mobile version (the story plays out in different episodes with each being anywhere from twenty to thirty minutes long depending on difficulty and there are “previously…” recap cutscenes). Included with the story mode is a co-op friendly Raid Mode that takes portions of the campaign and turns them into arcade-style shooting events where the players must kill all the zombies in the area. Resident Evil Revelations on the Xbox One is a solid port of a five-year-old survival horror adventure that’s perfect for those jumping into the franchise for the first time (or those who are looking to triple dip).
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.