The debut episode of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 won’t have you convinced the horror series is back on track, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun with it. Sure, it isn’t the prettiest game out there, and the voice acting — after all these years — can still be grating; but Revelations 2 succeeds in creating the right amount of tension we’ve come to expect from Resident Evil. It also makes good on its episodic promise with an interesting story and surprise twists that will have you clambering for episode two.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is something of a test for Capcom and the series as a whole. The first Resident Evil: Revelations on 3DS (later remastered for consoles) already toyed around with an episodic structure, but was played up more as a clever way to separate in-game chapters and events. Revelations 2, on the other hand, is more like an actual TV mini series, served up as four digestible chapters released one week apart. While Capcom isn’t coming out and simply saying it, it’s clear they’re following the Telltale Games business model to help fuel some excitement for this latest instalment. While it’s still early to see if it all pays off, Revelations 2 — based on this first episode alone — is already heading in the right direction.
Revelations 2 gets the ball rolling fairly quickly. Returning all-star, Claire Redfield, and friend/co-worker, Moira Burton are both kidnapped during a company party and taken to a remote prison. Claire wakes up in a cell (just like she did in Code: Veronica!) with a mysterious band around her wrist and her cell door mysteriously unlocked. She finds Moira in a similar state and, together, they search for a way to escape. They soon discover that someone is behind their kidnapping and that they may be involved with something far more dark and sinister. It's definitely an intriguing premise, and there are enough twists and turns to keep things moving at a brisk pace. All of this is told in the form of two different perspectives: The first with Claire and Moira, and the second with Barry and series newcomer, Natalia.
For better or for worse, Revelations 2 is all about cooperative teamwork. Moira and Natalia behave a bit differently than their counterparts, and switching between characters is as easy as pressing the Y button. During Claire’s campaign, Moira can use her flashlight to help search for hidden items and briefly blind enemies. Outside from item and collectible hunting though, Moira doesn’t really feel all that useful; a fact made more glaring when compared to Barry’s own little co-op partner, Natalia. She may be defenceless, but Natalia makes up for it thanks to her ability to sneak around practically undetected from her enemies, as well as being able to “see” their locations when crouched. When we weren’t forced to take control of Barry and mow down monsters with a machine gun, Natalia was our go-to character for the most part, simply because her abilities were far more useful than Barry’s.
Barry and Natalia’s segment is definitely the stronger of the two, thanks to a slower, stealth-like approach and tense scenarios. You’ll still explore the same prison, but things grow steadily unnerving during a long nightmarish stretch outside at night, where ugly and deadly creatures shamble around for their next victim. It’s these creatures that present the biggest threat in the entirety of episode one, and they make for a creepy and intense final 30 minutes.
Unlike other episodic game series, Revelations 2 offers more incentives for players to come back. Players can tackle the campaign either on their own or with a partner. Granted, the enjoyment of the second player will vary based on how much they enjoy acting as a supportive player. However, because Moira and Natalia can't necessarily fight back against waves of enemies, it might be a good starting point for players that haven’t played a Resident Evil game before but would still like to experience the story. Bear in mind though, that playing alongside a friend severely dampers all elements of fear in the game, as do most co-op experiences like in Resident Evil 5 and 6. So if you’re looking to get scared, we recommend playing it solo first.
For the hardcore and competitive player, the way-better-than-it-should-be Raid Mode makes a welcome return from the first Revelations game. We had a total blast tackling the mode’s 18 missions, defeating armies of enemies in various levels from the RE universe, all the while being accompanied by some bad (but in a good way) dance soundtrack. It’s a fun and mindless distraction after wrapping the 2-4 hour long campaign. Even better, future episodes will be expanding Raid Mode with even more content, so it’ll be interesting to see how big this mode gets when all is said and done.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is off to a pretty good start. It’s fun, campy, and even manages to throw in a few good scares. Once you get past the somewhat predictable first half, the game really comes together in the second with a blend of solid action, horror, and stealth. Dividing the game into episodic chunks is already shaping up to a successful experiment for Capcom, and we can’t wait to see where it all leads to in the coming weeks.