Without a doubt, the second episode of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 knows how to up the ante. The story is more compelling, the action more exciting, and the enemies significantly more challenging. While Episode 1 was a solid opening chapter, it also felt predictable and played things a little too safe. Episode 2, however — titled Contemplation — feels more confident in its approach, and at the same time, corrects a few of our initial criticisms from last week.

The second chapter continues the exploits of Claire and Barry, along with their trusty companions, Moira and Natalia. After last week’s intriguing ending, our characters begin their search for the mysterious overseer and mastermind behind their terrible ordeal. While not the most original villain, there is a certain longing throughout the episode to see the face of the one that is pulling the strings. And while we aren’t going to spoil anything here, our inevitable encounter with the big bad is something we’re definitely looking forward to.

Capcom’s decision to split up Revelations 2 begins to make a bit more sense after wrapping up Contemplation. Survival horror games are exhausting, stressful experiences and often times players need moments to recuperate and recover. Playing through a snippet of suspenseful action each week versus rushing through it all at once may make Revelations 2 feel more manageable and easier to get through. We’re just theorizing here, but certain genres may be more accessible for some people in smaller doses, and survival horror is a perfect genre to experiment with. These are just normal pX ramblings though so let’s get back on track then, shall we?

In our review for Episode 1, we gave the nod to Barry’s campaign for being the stronger of the two. But in Contemplation, we’re happy to report that both segments come out equally strong. Teamwork takes centre stage once more, but now it doesn’t feel quite as static. You’re still repeatedly switching between characters on the fly, occasionally using Moira’s crowbar to unlock doors and Natalia’s Last of Us-like listening skill and pointing ability. As strange as it sounds, Natalia’s obnoxious index finger is key to defeating the invisible monsters that have crept into Episode 2. We aren’t sure what the genre’s fascination with invisible enemies is as of late (see The Evil Within) but in Revelations 2, they’re used to great effect. You’ll know when you’re close to an invisible enemy due to the distorted borders around the screen and a constant ringing sound. By switching to Natalia, she can “see” the orange silhouette of the monster and point at it. At this time, you’ll need to switch to Barry and aim your weapon at the empty space before the creature gets close, moving the cursor while abiding to the clues being shouted by Natalia. Once she yells “There! Shoot,” you can blast away and end the gross monster’s life with a single Magnum bullet.

One major contrast we noticed from the last episode is the serious short supply of ammunition and health. This doesn’t bode well when you run into the two main boss battles smack in the middle of each campaign. Both encounters are super exciting and require precision-aiming, quick-thinking and a whole lot of dodging. We ended up seeing the ‘You Are Dead’ screen a few times each, but like any good skill-testing boss, the satisfaction of defeating these beasts was extremely rewarding.

Enemy encounters, in general, are more plentiful too. With such a lack of ammo present, simply wasting bullets on them will leave you at a major disadvantage later on. We found ourselves often using our co-op partner’s special abilities before riddling our attackers with bullets. Depending on how many surrounded us, using Moira’s flashlight to temporarily blind enemies then finishing them with a kick from Claire was a great way to conserve ammo. With Barry, watching enemy patterns before taking them down with a stealth kill also ensured our inventory remained well-stocked. It’s tricks like these that keep survival horror fans on their toes, and Revelations 2 keeps the trend going.

As promised, Episode 2 also adds new content to the oddly enjoyable Raid mode with fresh new characters, missions, and levels. There’s a ton of variation in this mode, and playing with a friend is the best way to experience it all. The campaign will set you back another 3-4 hours, but if you’re looking to see everything Revelations 2 has to offer (as you should), Raid mode is what will undoubtedly suck most of your time.

Conclusion

Episode Two: Contemplation is hands down, a better, stronger, and more satisfying entry than the Revelations 2 premiere episode was. Visually, it still looks like an upscaled Xbox 360 game, and many of the environments — save for the last area — don’t really convey the uneasiness one generally feels when playing a Resident Evil game. On the plus side, the co-op play is improved, and the action is way more intense. And just like the end of the previous episode, the cliffhanger has us anxious for the next one. If the quality remains as consistent as this one, then Revelations 2 might have what it takes to reawaken this run-down franchise.