Before Resident Evil VII: Biohazard graced our screens and introduced a new generation of gamers to what classic survival-horror was like, there was a sleeper in the Resident Evil saga that gets overlooked when you talk about most influential in the series. Luckily, I’m here to make a case for this overlooked gem.
Resident Evil: Revelations was – at first – a 3DS exclusive title made by Capcom. It was then ported to the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and WiiU, and it has upcoming ports for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC soon. The game has multiple characters and stories, but the main one focuses on fan favorite Jill Valentine and her new partner Parker Luciani, who are investigating the disappearance of Chris Redfield on an abandoned cruise ship called the Queen Zenobia. Once they get there, however, they discover horrors unlike anything they had ever seen before: the T-Abyss virus, which infected the ship and created horrifying, aquatic themed monsters. The ship is crawling with the creatures, and Jill has to find Chris and find out secrets hidden deep beneath the depths of the Queen Zenobia.
When we talk about greatest Resident Evil games, everyone seems to beeline to only two games: the original game and Resident Evil 4. I’m one of the few, however, to make the case that Revelations is at least one of the best games in the franchise. The first reason being that instead of taking the hardcore action gameplay style that made Resident Evil 5 so “warmly received”, the developers at Capcom took the tried-and-true survival horror gameplay and ran with it. Ammunition and items are scarce, but not super scarce. The game shows its true colors when it comes to environment and atmosphere. It’s one of the major components needed if you want to have a successful horror game, and Revelations delivers. Easily, the scariest moments in the game aren’t the jump scares; they’re the subtle things in the game like when you see a window that was fine going to one place and then you come back and it’s shattered. Also credit to the sound designers for making the game sound terrifying. For instance, one of the first bosses you encounter in the game is in the Promenade deck of the ship. Once you enter the deck, you can hear the boss in the distance, and it’s bone-chilling. The way the voice distorts as he repeats the lines “mayday, mayday…” to sound more and more monstrous. The sounds in the game are phenomenal, from the creaking of doors when you open them to the sound effects when you shoot one of the numerous monsters in the game, the sound engineers did a great job immersing the player in the luxurious cruise ship and give the Resident Evil saga a much needed revival.
The core control scheme of the game felt very Resident Evil, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that for about 90 percent of the game, the control scheme doesn’t make things worse. It’s smooth, clean and overall pretty decent overall. Once it gets to the boss fights, however, that’s when the game becomes incredibly difficult. There are a lot of things going on in the bosses, and one minor slip-up could mean life or death. In most cases, it means death. There’s no sprinting, so the game is much slower and more methodical than other games in the series, forcing you to be really conservative with your ammo and also forces your play style to change drastically. For some – like myself – it’s a welcome change. For the casual gamer, it provides a hearty challenge. But even at that, the bosses can range from amazing and welcoming challenges to downright absurd and enraging experiences. The Promenade boss, for instance, is both a very fun challenge and a frustrating one because of the scenario given to you.
Resident Evil: Revelations is hands-down one of the best games in the series, but it is not perfect. Generally, the game suffers from too many subplots that try to fit in with the current narrative. Everything with Chris Redfield is much needed, but the stories with Parker and newcomers Jessica Sherawat, Keith Lumley and Quint Cetcham are only there as a way to fill the game with chapters and do nothing but bog what was a fairly straightforward story down into its usual Resident Evil conspiracy story. Also, the voice acting isn’t great. One of the biggest downsides to the RE franchise is that the voice acting, while getting better with every game, still feels a bit robotic and lifeless compared to other games like it. A creepy moment can be hampered by a terrible line (“I don’t think we’re alone…”, for example). The bosses as well fall under the same sort of umbrella when it comes to formulaic. While they all have their elements of fun, they suffer from the boss fountain, unfair enemy placement while also blending with fairly poor AI on both the enemy’s side and on the player’s side. It’s a challenging experience, to say the least. Finally, the end boss fight seemed rather anti-climactic given the build-up. It’s one of the worst bosses in the game due to its cheap AI, unspecified movements and potential one-hit kills. Add to that the lack of items in the battle to pick up and you have one of the hardest bosses in the game. Once you get the patterns down, it becomes slightly easier, but then the AI switches up and now you’ve wasted ammo that should have been salvaged. It’s easily the hardest boss of the entire game.
Resident Evil: Revelations is definitely not the best game of all time. It’s not even one of the best of all time. But in terms of the Resident Evil saga, it is definitely a high point and a huge critical success after the failures of both Resident Evil 5 and 6. Great graphics, excellent sound design and a different, but unique enough environment that it differentiates itself from other games in the genre, Resident Evil: Revelations helped to revitalize a franchise thought to be dead and gone.