Resident Evil: Revelations Review | Raccoon City All Over Again


It was midnight when I slid the cartridge for Pokemon: Let's Go: Eevee! out of my Nintendo Switch and inserted my shiny new and delicious-tasting copy of Resident Evil: Revelations. The last Resident Evil game I played was Resident Evil 5 on the PlayStation 3, which a stranger kindly gave to me in the middle of the road. I enjoyed RE5 a lot, and while it wasn't a terrifying experience, I'll always remember it fondly as the first game I beat entirely in Co-Op and how it didn't give me my f******g trophy. Now, almost a decade later, as I return to the series to complete another game, I didn't reach for my copy of the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, but the 2012 spin-off game that was originally made for the Nintendo 3DS.

Resident Evil: Revelations, set between the events of RE4 and RE5, follows BSAA agents Jill Valentine and Parker as they explore the Queen Zenobia to find the missing agents, Chris Redfield and Jessica. However, they realize too late that they walked into a trap orchestrated by Veltro, the mysterious bio-terrorist organization that acts as this game's Team Rocket. Although a majority of the game takes place on the Queen Zenobia, there are time jumps that mix up the gameplay and let you briefly escape the bloodstained halls of the once majestic ocean liner. And even though Jill is the poster girl for the game, you switch characters at least once an episode so you aren't hearing the same grunts, moans, and quips over and over again.

The writing for Resident Evil: Revelations is reminiscent of campy horror movies from the 80s. Characters are constantly saying ridiculous things like "me and my sweet ass are on the way", and "sorry I don't date cannibalistic monsters", which might have taken me out of the story if the game didn't commit to it so wholeheartedly. This also goes for the plot of Revelations which is needlessly complex yet shockingly simple to anyone familiar with the events of Raccoon City. While the game may delve too deep into international espionage and political intrigue for some people's taste, I think the increased scale allows Revelations to reach the status of globe-trotting adventure. This certainly deviates from the location-specific games in the series like Resident Evil 4, but it also doesn't go full action like Resident Evil 6. Revelations manages to split the difference and, while it may not be the best of both worlds, remains engaging.

Resident Evil: Revelations isn't the scariest game on the block by any stretch of the imagination. But I will be the first to admit that the game brought me to the edge of my seat and made me jump and mutter expletives to myself more than once. While most of the enemies you encounter are just standing around when you enter a room before swatting at you in mild inconvenience, there are other times when they appear in much more startling ways. Such as crawling out of furniture or jumping out of vents. There is an exciting sense of anticipation when you enter an unusually silent hallway or room and brace yourself for the inevitable monster in the closet to reveal itself.

Gameplay in Revelations is pretty predictable, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's not fun. It's easy to read the tea leaves and anticipate when the next "surprise ambush" from the enemies will come. Unlike other games in the series that lean more toward survival horror and deprive you of ammo and medkits, Revelations throws plenty of supplies your way. Most of the gameplay consists of following a linear path through narrow corridors from one open hub-like area to another. What makes this not feel as monotonous as it sounds is the game's use of non-linear storytelling and the, more-often-than-not, entertaining banter between the characters. The game also has a scanner mechanic called Genesis which allows you to scan fallen enemies and specially marked areas to receive herbs, ammo, and the occasional collectible. This may seem like a hassle, but by Episode 2 I found myself instinctively opening Genesis after I cleared a room of enemies.


I do want to add a small tangent here and mention that I've now played through the game twice (New Game and New Game +). On my first playthrough I went slow and steady. Taking in all the details, reading all the notes, and scanning all the rooms. This stretched my playtime to almost 10 hours. I found the experience intense at times and frustrating at others. The first boss fight took me an upwards of 45 minutes to beat and I didn't fare much better against the final one either. Second time around I was nervous returning to the boss, I'd been on a roll until then and taking thirty-plus minutes to beat one boss was definitely going to ruin my momentum. Well to my surprise I had reduced the boss to a pool of residual blood (meaning I beat him) within 5 minutes. Apart from bragging, I wanted to mention this because if I wrote this review after my first playthrough I would have said the boss fights were too difficult and slowed down the game too much. Now, however, I would say that while they are tough, they usually have a blatant weakness or harmless exploit (like a window for example) that makes them much more manageable.

When it comes to visuals, Resident Evil: Revelations flips a coin. On one hand, there are some clean and well-detailed textures that add to the unsettling settings, and on the other, there are vague and blurry assets that are reminiscent of early generation PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games. It was a toss-up of whether I was going to look at a cutscene and appreciate it's aesthetic, or shudder at the thought that not too far in the past I would have looked at this game as an up to par with "modern consoles". The animations don't fare much better, with some of the extraneous characters barely moving their lips as they speak while Jill, Parker, Jessica, and Chris are much more expressive.

Then there's the sound. In my opinion, the score for Revelations is it's strongest feature, and the music sets the eerie yet beautiful tone of the game right from the opening menu screen. It invokes a strange sense of suspense that makes you creep around every corner wondering what you'll find. The score is also supported by fantastic sound design and as you wander through the (often) dark halls of the Queen Zenobia you'll hear the rafts above you creak in complaint as an unseen enemy crawls through them and the doors that lead from one area to another groan as you push them open. I played a majority of the game with headphones on and while I don't think that's necessary to enjoy the game, I would recommend playing at least parts of the game this way in order to truly appreciate how the game sounds.

Lastly, I want to touch on Resident Evil: Revelations' raid mode. This additional mode is where fans of the game can really put in a lot of hours. The concept is pretty straight-forward. You can play through a variety of stages that are taken from the campaign, but this time with added locked doors that require you to clear the room of all enemies before being allowed to continue. To make it more challenging, the enemies are randomized versions of the ones that you saw in the campaign. Some are cute and tiny versions of bosses that previously kicked your ass, and others are towering giant versions of the basic enemy type that you've blasted through a hundred times. This, along with weapon upgrade drops and skin unlocks, keeps you coming back for more, long after the credits roll.

In the end, Resident Evil: Revelations may not be on par with some of the other outings in the Resident Evil franchise, but it fairs a lot better than most games attempting to do the same. The game's blend of humor and horror prevents the campy writing from getting stale and the scale of its story is just the right amounts of over the top to keep you interested. It may not be the best looking game on the Nintendo Switch, but it definitely doesn't feel like a port of a seven-year-old handheld game.

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