Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 - Episode 1

I used to love Resident Evil. Truly. It was a classic horror back in the day, with an interesting narrative and characters that I wanted to get a beer with - or maybe a milkshake, I was pretty young when the first games came out. Resident Evil 4 remains one of my all-time favourites PS2 games, and even though it added a bit more action into the mix, it did it with finesse. Then came the rest. Full of zombies (or zombie-esque creatures)? Yes. Same characters from before? Sure. Even a little bit fun? Possibly. Did it feel like Resident Evil? Not at all. The line between action and horror had been well and truly crossed. 

Resident Evil: Revelations on the 3DS aimed to change this, and while I can't say that it really scared me, it was more enjoyable than some previous entries in the series. This lead to Resident Evil: Revelations 2, an episodic sequel that was also released on consoles. Critically, it has been doing quite well, but does it feel like Resident Evil? I found out when I played Episode 1 at the weekend.

Episode 1 is aptly named "Penal Colony," because that's where it takes place. Not before a lavish work party, though. It is here that we first see Claire Redfield, long-time character of the series. Claire first showed up in Resident Evil 2 looking for her brother, Chris (remember the guy that punched that rock in Resident Evil 5), in the chaos of the Raccoon City outbreak. Of course, she found Leon first, and they spent an amazing zombie-filled time together, with the diner and the truck crash and the "lickers." Good times.

Anyway, Claire now works for Terra Save, who specialise in protecting the world from acts of bioterrorism. She's not the only one on the payroll, either. Moira Burton, daughter of fan-favourite, Barry Burton, known for his beard, his magnum, and Jill sandwiches, has also just started. That means she's at the same Christmas party as Claire when all of the employees are abducted. Claire wakes up in a cell, understandably confused and groggy. Luckily, the cell door opens itself and she is quickly reunited with Moira. Then Episode 1 truly begins.

The first episode of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 doesn't tell the whole story (either in plot or in its full potential), but I wasn't blown away by its level of tension. For starters, Moira is along for the ride. She can either be switched to by the player, or controlled by another in co-op, neither of which leave you feeling entirely alone as in the first RE games. Capcom isn't quite moving away from their goal of action-orientated "horror" just yet, and considering reviews have been positive, I had assumed Revelations 2 was a step in the right direction. I didn't really get that feeling from Episode 1

Furthermore, movement and fighting tend to feel a bit clunky, mainly because you're forced into playing like you're in an action game, when you really shouldn't be. It feels like the series doesn't fit well enough within its own combined genre to keep up with itself. And, because of its closeness to the later games in the series, I had hoped that this might be sugar-coated by the cool finishing moves. No luck. Though you can press a button when an enemy (still closer to the majini/ouroboros making than classic zombies) is stunned. More often than not, though, they are knocked to the floor, rather than finished in the spectacle I had learned to love in Resident Evil 5

Quite similar to recent RE games are the puzzles, which are relatively simple and normally revolve around finding a missing item or restoring power to an area (at least in this episode, anyway). They're an expected part of the game, and I felt like they neither added nor detracted from the experience. They just were. However, I did think it was a nice touch to explore an area later with a different character, as I'd then have different items and abilities, giving me access to locked rooms and puzzle solutions that weren’t possible before. 

Different characters will be a regular occurrence, I'm sure, as Episode 1 featured 4 characters. The first two were Claire Redfield and Moira Burton, who can be switched between on the fly (or controlled by two separate players) and are used for different purposes. 

Claire has the guns, ready to shoot someone, or more likely something, between the eyes at a moment's notice. Moira, on the other hand, has a crowbar and a torch, and feels a little more useless. Her role in the team is to open doors and crates with the crowbar, whack anything that gets too close, and shine the torch at hidden objects or into hostile eyes to stun. She's not in enough danger for it to be tense, even when split up, but she's also not powerful enough to be cool. 

The second duo is more interesting. Barry Burton, the red-headed fan favourite previously mentioned, and Natalia, a little girl whom he finds when he arrives on the island of the penal colony. Needless to say, he's searching for his daughter. He somehow managed to get his hands on a call for help from Moira, sent from the colony's ancient comms system over six months ago.

While Barry brings the firepower, the mysterious Natalia is able to crawl through small spaces to access areas that Barry cannot, and also sense nearby danger. While I have no idea how she can do this, a faint glow shows when hostiles are waiting just out of sight. It is an interesting idea, but was introduced in an area where the undead were especially slow and unthreatening. Combine that with the fact that stealth kills were introduced, and I’ve never felt safer in a game where creatures want to eat my flesh.

Is it all bad? Not at all. While Episode 1 didn't reach the level of hype (and horror) I had been hoping for, it is undeniably fun. It was a great feeling to be back in the Resident Evil universe, and Capcom have at least added a few one-liners into the dialogue that refer to moments in the original games. For example, Claire refers to the infamous “Jill sandwich” line, to which Moira mentions that her Dad never stops telling the story. It was a nice touch, and momentarily bathed me in beautiful nostalgia. Here's another nice example:

Another section of Episode 1 that I was actually pleasantly surprised by was towards the end of the experience. I was playing as Barry, night had fallen in a forest setting, and I was faced with an entirely new opponent. While I won’t ruin what this opponent was, mainly because new creatures are one of the most enjoyable things about the series at present, it actually felt somewhat atmospheric. Now that’s a pleasant surprise. Sure, it didn’t last too long, but for a moment there it actually felt like Resident Evil.

At the end of the day, that is what I’m waiting for. While Capcom clearly isn’t ready to take us back to an entire experience that is truly tense and horror-focused, and gameplay often feels clunky and mediocre, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 – Episode 1 does have a few moments that reminded me of the games I once loved. The plot raises enough questions that I wanted answering, old favourites return alongside a couple of new characters, and I can’t deny that I had fun. A pretty mixed picture, I know.

Is this game worth getting? That’s the main question that every review should answer. Based on Episode 1, yes. If you love Resident Evil, even if you’ve tried to ignore the existence of the series’ most recent games, you will find something to enjoy here. It is relatively cheap, available on Steam, Vita and next-gen consoles, and can probably keep you entertained for a little while. However, don’t go in expecting this game to fix all of the problems that Capcom have created. 

They still don’t get what true horror is all about. Not like we do, right? After 100 days of these articles, you'd really hope so, anyway. That's right. This is my 100th horror game article in 100 days. Have you enjoyed it? I sure have. It's been exhausting, but rewarding, and I love horror just as much as when I started this personal challenge. Actually, maybe a little more. If you'd like to read through every single horror article I wrote in the last 100 days, you can find them right here. There's a healthy mix of news, previews, reviews, vague impressions, and terrified ramblings - so, something for everyone. I'm not going to stop writing altogether, though I'll definitely take a little bit of time off after this to spend at least a couple of evenings do absolutely nothing

If you've enjoyed any of these writings, and don't really want it to be over, please start a conversation with me on Twitter. We can discuss how many spelling mistakes you found, or what your favourite horror games are, or just become best friends. The choice is yours. 

Until then, thank you so much for reading. You're the best.


  1. Nice article! The game seems to be mediocre. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for reading! Glad you liked it. Sadly, I'd have to agree...