Let me tell you about zombies. I hate zombies. I donâ€™t watch zombie movies, I donâ€™t play zombie games, I donâ€™t read zombie comic books (or TV shows based thereon). Because of this I have developed a deep understanding of why I hate zombies. To spare you the long essay: zombies scare me and in part they do this because zombies make humans do inhuman things.
Enter Resident Evil Revelations. I know strictly this game isnâ€™t about zombies as such, but the premise is similar. The monsters in this game definitely seem to have the same effect, in that the humans of the piece are constantly doing things no human would otherwise ever think of doing.
Sure, protagonists in horror movies donâ€™t always make the best decisions, but the underprepared heroes seem to only choose a course of action that will get them killed. This does not just mean going into rooms full of monsters, but also choosing to continue on a mission when itâ€™s clear they are overmatched and, in some cases, under-clothed.
When hiking through the snowy alps, one of the characters (female, naturally) wears very little clothing and then complains about the cold. The characters choose the oddest times to discuss things like personal relationships, usually in between gunning down waves of lizard things. Why, WHY are those two guys standing around chatting to each other when this whole building is about to be blown up?!
But letâ€™s forget the plot, because, good god, you would never bother with this if you wanted plot.
Resident Evil Revelations is a survival horror game; itâ€™s very big on the survival and skips over the horror. Nothing is scary. Big jumps are telegraphed, and monsters tend to be of the 'slow and lumbering' variety, or the 'stand-and-roar-before-charging' kind. The characters also donâ€™t seem to be worried by the malformed enemies. A giant slug thing attacks and they are all â€śho-hum, I suppose we should kill thisâ€ť and not â€śOMG what the hell is going on!?â€ť
The game opens on a boat which is pretty cool, right. A big cruise liner filled with monsters, it's creepy and exciting. The excitement comes from the fact that you are constantly running out of ammo and having to run away from monsters or stab at them ineffectually with your knife. WHY DID THESE PEOPLE BOARD A BOAT FULL OF MONSTERS AND ONLY TAKE 10 BULLETS WITH THEM!?
I should actually say 9 bullets, because I had to spend one just to figure out which button was â€śshootâ€ť. There is no tutorial, so my first few steps were tentative. I move and shoot easily and get myself through the first door, but only because Iâ€™ve played videogames before. Real newbies would be completely lost.
Ammo running out is a big problem. While it certainly ratchets up the stress levels, it also feels quite artificial. This is a survival game; I should be able to do all I can to survive, but often the game takes the most obvious option: run away.
Strictly from a game perspective, I found movement weird and both Jill Valentine (a character I recognise from various Capcom fighting games) and Chris Redfield make odd â€śjingling equipmentâ€ť noises when they move. At various points early in the game I paused thinking I heard a monster only to find it was me. Aiming is a little difficult but you learn to adjust as you play.
The game does offer a few tips, and one of them is that monsters can be shot in certain places that are more vulnerable. You have to figure out where these spots are yourself. I actually quite liked this, it made the game feel slightly more real despite all the ridiculous surrounds (why didnâ€™t you bring a shotgun WITH YOU!?)
The most innovative part of the game, and the part that I loved, was when you restart from a save file. The game loads with an edited version of preceding cutscenes, prefaced with â€śPreviously on Resident Evil Revelations . . .â€ť like you were watching a TV show. It's excellent and I know quite a few games that would benefit from this system.
As it currently plays, Resident Evil Revelations on the PS3 plays like an upscaled HD version of a 3DS title. Which it is. For some games, that might be a great thing; for this survival horror experience, it most certainly is not.