Resident Evil: Revelations is a game with a lot of numbers attached. First off, itâ€™s the eighth game in the main Resident Evil series (thatâ€™s right, this isnâ€™t a spin-off or side-story), and the twenty-first (depending on how you count them) overall. Itâ€™s also the first game to support the new 3DS accessory, the Circle Pad Pro. Weâ€™ll touch on that a bit here, but if youâ€™re keen to know more about it, be sure to check out our dedicated feature later this week.
The game, which is set between the events of Resident Evil 4 & 5, returns to the series roots of being pure survival horror - complete with the usual trappings of low amounts of ammunition and surprise attacks from hidden enemies. This leads to a lot of slow exploration of your territory (rather than just running around it), which itself comes in very handy - youâ€™ll need to spend a lot of time retracing your steps as you find keys and unlock previously inaccessible areas in order to proceed.
The story, which we wonâ€™t detail for fear of spoiling it, is rather good. It handily ties together a number of different areas, including some set in the past, to continuously reveal additional layers of the narrative. Itâ€™s not a masterwork of fiction by any stretch of the imagination but it is riveting, and it definitely helps to drive the action along. Resident Evil aficionados in particular will love the constant references to RE lore and the return of classic characters from games past.
The mechanics have been tweaked to encompass the additional screen, which serves as a map and interactive inventory, amongst other things. Using it to switch between weapons, etc, is intuitive - if a little cumbersome at times. Fortunately, you rarely need to do anything with it while under stress, so its slight clunkiness doesnâ€™t really inhibit you much.
Gameplay very much fits within what you expect from a Resident Evil game, which is to say the enemies are the â€śdumb iterate towards youâ€ť type and the environments which youâ€™ll explore are largely extremely linear (complete with small boxes that inexplicably block your progress). To a newcomer, these will likely seem antiquated and out of step with modern game design, while series veterans will slip them on like their favorite pair of shoes.
Itâ€™s also still very hard, and particularly punishing on players that attempt to do things the â€śwrongâ€ť way. Fortunately, the excellent â€ścasualâ€ť difficulty level evens the odds somewhat and is a great way to get your head around the way Resident Evil works.
The story is presented by way of a number of TV-like Episodes, each of which is preceded by a â€śPreviously, on Resident Evil: Revelationsâ€ť cinematic. The movie shows highlights of what you previously accomplished and works well to remind players of what theyâ€™ve been up to. The whole thing, in fact, feels very much like youâ€™re watching a number of Lost episodes back-to-back; even the (excellent) music has cues that could easily drop into that show.
Visually, itâ€™s an incredibly impressive package. About the only things that let it down are the occasional stutter (on loading, generally) and some fairly heavy compression used during the CG cutscenes (which is particularly noticeable in 3D mode). The score here isnâ€™t hindered, of course, by the fact that you spend a lot of time looking at Jill in a wetsuit from behind (what? itâ€™s a great demonstration of the number of polygons used to render the characters!).
Itâ€™s not super long, however completing the game really is just the beginning. There are loads of extras to unlock, as well as a co-op mode and clever integration of Street Pass to keep new content flowing. Thereâ€™s also a number of â€śdo x action y timesâ€ť type achievements built in, each of which award a number of different items to help you in your quest.
Integration with the Circle Pad Pro is good, however if you leave your 3DS in sleep mode for any real length of time, youâ€™ll find out one of its more annoying quirks. The Circle Pad Pro will hibernate after a while, to preserve battery life - something it gives no external indication of. If you resume playing Revelations while the controller is hibernating, the game will immediately recognise the fact that the controller isnâ€™t available and switch you to an alternate control scheme. To switch back, you have to go a few clicks deep into a menu - an annoying task youâ€™ll want to avoid by getting into the habit of pulling a trigger on the controller (to waken it) before you open the 3DS and resume playing.
Whether youâ€™ll enjoy the game or not really comes down to what kind of game you like to play. If youâ€™re a Resident Evil fan from way back, youâ€™re going to love it. If you like a bit of old-school adventuring action (find the keycards, figure out how to proceed, etc), thereâ€™s a lot for you in here too. If youâ€™re looking for something to show off the capabilities of your 3DS, again - itâ€™s an impressive showcase as to what Nintendoâ€™s new toy is capable of. If, however, youâ€™re looking for smart AI and dynamic fights in open locales... this probably isnâ€™t the title youâ€™re looking for.
Resident Evil Revelations deserves to be a full, numbered iteration in the series, in recognition of the excellent (and important) part it plays in filling in the Resident Evil story. Itâ€™s every bit a fully-blown Resident Evil game and is absolutely worthy of a place in any fanâ€™s collection.