Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode One Impressions
This first taste of what Revelations 2 has to offer is showing a lot more promise than I ever expected. The first episode quickly sends a very clear message that Capcom is fully aware of its fan-base (they’ve included direct references to the infamous Jill sandwich and Master of unlocking lines) and more importantly there seems to be an understanding that Resident Evil can safely straddle the line between horror and action. The action is toned down, there’s a number of pretty tense sequences, and there’s even a few simple puzzle solving sections that put me in the mind of earlier Resident Evil games.
The first half of episode one puts you in control of Claire and Moira (Barry’s daughter). Claire will be the one wielding weapons while Moira, seemingly due to some sort of past incident, decides to stick to a flashlight/crowbar combo. There’s clearly some history between Claire and Moira making their banter throughout the episode feel natural. Moira has no qualms with cursing, which might feel a bit jarring for some, but it sets up for some pretty comical sequences later on in this episode. Her colorful language also isn’t overbearing and personally I think it adds a little something to her character. (It’ll be fun to see how she talks around Barry as she doesn’t think very highly of him at all.) The second pair consists of the one and only Barry Burton who finds a young girl named Natalia who, at the moment, has no sort of back-story at all. Despite a few hints it’s unclear exactly who she is although I imagine that revelation (sorry) will be a major part of the overarching narrative. Barry, like Claire, takes on the role of wielding any sort of firepower while Natalia has the ability to spot enemies through walls. Natalia can use this to alert Barry to the locations of certain enemies allowing for him to sneak around and take out enemies in stealth. Both Moira and Natalia can also spot hidden items (typically ammo or BP, the game’s currency for unlockables). Barry and Natalia are so far my personal highlights. Barry plays the protective father-role well and Natalia actually seems capable of protecting herself despite her age. Clearly there’s more to her, but for now she fits well into being a really big help for Barry.
Episode one kicks off with Claire and Moira waking up in a facility on an island after being captured by some sort of mysterious/heavily armed group of soldiers. Your journey with them (which took me around forty minutes on my first playthrough) will focus on escaping the facility and reaching a radio tower to send an SOS. This first section features plenty dark and gruesome scenes, dangerous moving saw-blades, and a rather intense escape sequence. Once reaching the conclusion to their sequence the game switches to Barry who is just arriving on the island in which Claire and Moira were taken to. He soon meets up with Natalia (who appears to also have been a prisoner here) and their journey leads you on the trail of our other two protagonists. Barry comes prepared with plenty of ammo from the start, but this also means that his part is filled with far stronger enemies. He also gets a super cool sequence in which you’re traveling through a very dark forest while watching out for some rather grotesque enemies. The story ends with a pretty crazy twist that is simply just an excellent way to end your opening episode. The fact that I only have to wait one week to know what happens next is also pretty nice as well.
While playing as Barry/Natalia there’s a part in which you’ll play through some of the same areas in which Claire/Moira previously were. Episode one introduces some possible scenarios in which future episodes might implement the idea of choice/consequence that we so often see in episodic games. There’s a type of enemy that has a growing infection on their face that, if Claire doesn’t shoot directly, will be left behind on the ground. If you see these and get too close with Barry they’ll explode in your face. More importantly there’s a specific contraption that, if used by Claire/Moira, will completely block the exit for Barry/Natalia. It’s possible that in future episodes we might see decisions made by Claire/Moira directly impact the path that you take through the story with Barry/Natalia. This might not result in any major changes to the story, but what’s teased in this first episode is interesting.
My first playthrough took around 90 minutes, but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what’s on offer as of right now. There’s the Countdown and Invisible mode that lets you play through each episode on a time limit or with invisible enemies, there’s plenty of unlockable extras/collectibles/medals, and there’s the Raid Mode. Raid Mode is pretty similar to what it’s been in previous entries in the series. You’ll run through a variety of maps (these maps represent different locations from other RE games) taking out waves of enemies, protecting a specific area, and finding keys to progress to the next part of the map. You’ll level up, upgrade skills, and modify weapons as you prepare for each new mission. I’m not sure of how many missions there are total right now, but I’ve probably spent five hours with Raid mode and I’m not even close to finishing up everything. Raid mode is a much more arcade approach to combat (Level and health bars appear over enemies, damage counts are shown with each hit, etc) and on top of that all of the customization options available are fun to play around with. Co-op is currently only split-screen with online coming once all episodes have released. That said, full disclosure, this is my first time playing Raid mode and it does seem like there’s a lot of reused assets from past games. (I’ve seen people on various message boards mention how many reused assets there are.) This doesn’t really impact my own feelings, but I can see it bugging some people.
A month ago I had very low expectations for how Revelations 2 would end up. (Things could still go real bad from here!) Episode one surprised me and I’m actually kind of hopeful for the rest of the season. There’s a lot of promise shown here, an understanding of what makes Resident Evil fun, that’s really nice to see. It’s not quite as good as early Resident Evil games, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Hopefully future episodes will continue this forward progress…and if not I certainly hope the writing keeps up. I mean when you get lines like the following…
“Because ‘terr’ doesn’t have to end with ‘rist’.”
“Yeah, I was almost a Claire sandwich.”
“Who’s the master of unlocking now?”
…it’s really hard not to smile.