Resident Evil: Revelations HD is the best thing that could have possibly happened for the struggling series. Capcom is currently in damage control for its biggest franchise after taking a huge blow from the critical flop of Resident Evil 6 and scouring much of the remaining reputation on pointless sub-entries.
What Capcom needed was a game that simply works. A game fans could rally behind and hold aloft as a proud entry in the series. A game that could distract everyone while they make absolute sure Resident Evil 7 is up to snuff and does not cause further irreparable harm to the series.
That’s just what Resident Evil: Revelations is. It’s not huge or flashy, and it doesn’t make any big statements about where the series is going. It doesn’t affect the canon or introduce any brilliant new ideas to the formula. It has no silly gimmicks. It simply works, and at this point, that is just fine.
Of course, the game was already a critical success last year, taking some impressive scores for a portable Resident Evil game and walking away as the best reviewed game since Resident Evil 5.
Giving the HD treatment to an already popular title is a low risk means of spreading the game’s good word to the larger console market, reaffirming to everyone that Resident Evil is here to stay.
Shakespeare This Ain’t
Resident Evil: Revelations follows series mainstay Jill Valentine and her new partner in crime, Parker. Rumors of Chris Redfield’s kidnapping following a massive biological terrorist attack on a floating city lead the duo to an abandoned ship where, no surprise to anyone, zombies run rampant! Conspiracies unfold, characters remain flat as cardboard, and another virus must be stopped.
It’s an inconsequential story in one of gaming’s most ridiculous canons, if what Resident Evil has can even be called a canon anymore. Jill and Chris are nothing more than two beautiful people shooting zombies on a boat, empty shells of characters with less depth than a child’s inflatable pool. The throw-away supporting cast is no better, either lacking in personality or simply having too much.
The only standout of the crowd is Parker, and that’s just because it’s rare to find a chubby character in a Japanese video game is that is to be taken seriously.
Nothing holds any weight in this simple story, either. “It will be Raccoon City all over again,” one character proclaims, but what does that even mean anymore? So much has happened in this universe that Raccoon City barely registers as a blip on the grand scheme of it all.
Tension, Relief, Tension, Relief
For what it lacks in narrative prowess, it more than makes up for in scares. And I don’t just mean the cheap BOO scares the series has devolved into over the years. Resident Evil: Revelations HD is able to pull some nice camera tricks and lighting effects during the game’s more tense moments.
Not to mention that ammunition finally matters again, so making sure none of that goes to waste adds a whole new layer of stress.
There is a real sense of claustrophobia and dread on this floating fortress, and Jill and Parker’s short mission could have been one for the ages had Capcom decided to not ruin it for the multiplayer.
Between their important chapters, the narrative often jumps through time and space, into the European Alps or back in the time to the floating city during the terrorist attack. As soon as these missions initiate, the tension in Jill’s story vanishes. The boat is gone, the crashing waves are gone. It’s just all gone.
Resident Evil 4 works so well because one character finds himself stuck in the worst of situations. Here, there is always relief at the chapter change as Jill’s narrative takes a coffee break for exposition which could have been told in a cutscene.
While supposedly pushing the story forward through interactive flashbacks, the true purpose of these pointless chapters is to create more maps and character models to unlock in the game’s ever important multiplayer mode.
Enjoyment of the narrative comes in terms of how well you can divorce yourself from knowing you are playing a game designed by and large for online co-op and quick bursts of fun. I often had trouble looking at the large picture, and seeing I was playing mutliplayer maps randomly stitched together in chronological fashion.
For that, I hope the mutliplayer was worth it.
And boy is it ever. Once Resident Evil: Revelations HD seven hour campaign wraps itself up, there are still hours of fun to be had playing online with friends. Goals are simple, kill everything and traverse the carved paths laid in the maps provided in the campaign.
Unlock loot with the money raised in between missions, and repeat.
Weapons are randomized like in an MMO, so there are always options like finding a shotgun with faster reloading speed or a pistol which does more damage the longer the range. More value could have been added if the missions had been randomized as well, but remember that this started as a portable game afterall. The 3DS couldn’t handle that.
As for the gameplay, Capcom generously allows both “shooter” and “classic” controls based on preference. Combat boils down into the most basic shooting and knifing found in Resident Evil 4 and 5. Aim at weakened body parts, shoot, run away to get better position, and repeat. Granted, Revelations allows Jill to move while she shoots, so there is no need to stress about the perfect positioning.
Convincing yourself that this is a portable game by nature might be a little tough. The simplicity of it all begs to be played in short bursts with an excellent “one more mission” attitude driving to complete the next level or unlock the next power-up. The reward system is phenomenal, making it one of the better games in the series for quick bursts of action.
You did it, Capcom!
I might sound like I’m being a little rough of it, but I had a great time with Resident Evil: Revelations. Best part is, I want to jump right back in after reviewing it. It has its problems, mostly from a pacing point in the narrative and flow between levels, but it’s a wonderful low-key little game in a series that has lost all sense of subtleness.
Its eerie music, its tight corridors, its consistently blue and green hues in the background. There is a solid consistency in Jill’s mission that hasn’t been seen in the series for quite some time, and it feels as close to that that perfect blend of “old and new” Capcom has been struggling to find as they have come yet. That’s no small feat because they’ve been struggling ever since Resident Evil 4 to replicate that feeling.
Had Resident Evil: Revelations HD been titled Resident Evil 7, I might have been disappointed seeing as it is not the big leap that game needs to make.
Give it a chance, though. This is not a main entry in the series, but it’s not supposed to be. This is nothing more than a gift from Capcom, an apology letter for Resident Evil 6, created for the sole purpose of spreading the best game in the series for the last four years to a larger audience.
Take it, be happy, and rest easy. Resident Evil is going to be just fine.
We purchased Resident Evil: Revelations with our own funds and completed the campaign on normal difficulty before writing this review. We also clocked in a solid afternoon of multiplayer.