Game Rant's Anthony Taormina reviews Resident Evil: Revelations
Set between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5, two of Capcom's most recent successes with the franchise, and developed with a clear idea of what works and doesn't work for the series thus far, Resident Evil: Revelations is a 3DS title with a lot of weight on its shoulders.
It's on a new platform, features some fan favorite characters, along with some new additions, and it aspires to bring the series back to its claustrophobic, single-setting roots. Unfortunately, despite a lot of glowing praise that can be tossed toward Resident Evil: Revelations, there are a couple flaws that keep it from being a perfect RE experience.
The story, if you could call it that, is a mishmash of Italian literary references, seedy government agencies, and a utopian city in ruins. Our central protagonist duo, Jill and newcomer Parker, have arrived on the abandoned Queen Zenobia, a cruise ship that has more than its fair share of confined corridors and dark secrets, looking for answers to questions that aren't entirely clear from the outset.
But Jill and Parker, while the main focus of the game, are only one part of the large cast of characters that are featured in Revelations. Jill's original partner, Chris, is off with some hyper sexualized vixen named Jessica looking for their own answers, and extreme ancillary characters Quint and Keith are the game's plucky comic relief, in that "we gave him the call sign Jackass" kind of Japanese humor. If you couldn't already guess, Revelations is a story told in many parts, with about a dozen different bite-sized episodes progressing the player forward, all heading towards a conclusion that may or may not be revelatory.
Unfortunately those titular revelations are more in service to the singular story of this entry rather than the grander Resident Evil series. Most of what takes place in Revelations doesn't have any larger impact on the mythology, nor does it set up Chris' story in Resident Evil 5. It's actually rather bland when compared to what has come before (as well as after, in terms of chronology) and is filled with more double and triple crosses than any one infographic could illustrate. The only thing about the story that could be called clever is that Alan Wake-esque episodic nature, which encourages short play sessions and less 3D eyestrain.
Thankfully the game part of Revelations plays extremely well and delivers a high quality Resident Evil experience worthy of being called a 3DS showpiece. It's hard to say that the game couldn't have been made a bit easier to control by a second circle pad — which can be added if you're willing to pick up the circle pad pro attachment — but what is on display works surprisingly well considering how the "stop and shoot" mechanic has evolved since RE 4. Most of what Revelations delivers in terms of gameplay options, aside from the new scanning for items mechanics, has been done before so don't come expecting too much in the way of evolution. Nonetheless controls are snappy, well balanced, and there are even a few touch screen puzzles thrown in to justify this being on a Nintendo handheld rather than anywhere else.
Of course that isn't the only reason it's on a Nintendo handheld - but only the tip of the visual iceberg - it's in the game's presentation that every mechanical inconsistency becomes an ambience booster rather than a head-shaking frustration. Sound design, which is particularly moody and atmospheric, combined with 3D visuals that are the best I've seen on the 3DS yet, make this an audiovisual experience fit for a franchise like Resident Evil. A few of the patterns on the walls don't feel like they were intended to be in 3D, but the game's overall visual quality is absolutely superb.
For those that want to get a little more bang for their buck, long after the convoluted story has passed them by, Revelations offers Raid Mode, a collection of replayable sequences from the game's campaign that unlock single player rewards like more powerful weapons. Featuring support for two-player co-op, these Raid missions are Revelations' answer for those who expect cooperative play from here on out - but they are not nearly as engaging as a full campaign cooperative experience.
There's a clear dedication to keeping everything palatable to the 3DS market, from the aforementioned episodic nature, to not fully committing to one character, to even making the story seem like a self-contained retelling of Resident Evil 1, but fans shouldn't be ashamed of checking this game out either. There is plenty of gameplay variety and tense boss fights thrown in to make this handheld title feel like a console affair.
When a franchise like Resident Evil, which has numerous offshoots and intersecting storylines and prequels, titles one of its games Revelations the expectation is that it will be the most revealing entry to date. It's not an outlandish assumption, but one that puts some heavy pressure on the game.
Resident Evil: Revelations may lack the storytelling focus of a Resident Evil 1 or 4, but it more than makes up for it by being a solid showpiece for the Nintendo 3DS, both in terms of an audiovisual experience and mechanically competent third person shooter. If you're a Resident Evil fan or a 3DS owner, this is the next must-have title for the handheld.
Have you had a chance to check out Resident Evil: Revelations and want to share your thoughts? Feel free in the comments below.
Resident Evil Revelations is available now on the Nintendo 3DS.