Review Basis: Completed the game on Normal; played Raid Mode for an additional 3 hours. At the time of this review, I did not play with the Circle Pad Pro.
Parent Talk: Resident Evil Revelations is a horror action game, filled with terrifying monsters, disgusting images, buckets of blood and gore, etc. Parents should also be wary of profanity.
Revises the formula. Resident Evil Revelations is an excellent entry in the series and easily the most visually-impressive 3DS game. It’s arguably the best title available in the system’s library, and marks a successful return to many of the franchise’s original conventions. Character models and creature designs are stunning; the varied environments are creepy, atmospheric, and detailed. The production values places RER at the par of a typical console adventure, transcending the stereotype that portables can only offer small experiences.
+ Putting horror back into “survival horror.” Resident Evil was beautifully reinvented with RE4. I think the reinvention was not only necessary, but helped move the genre forward. Sadly, Capcom rested on its laurels with 5, traded scares for action. Revelations bridges RE4’s design with the series’ classic horror elements. We’ve exchanged open paths and outdoor villages with cramped corridors, dilapidated rooms and claustrophobia. The controls remain fluid and graceful, tweaked to accommodate the 3DS’ hardware. Capcom did admirably to marry jump-scares, a haunting setting and action to please fans and newcomers.
+ Old friends. Several conventions have returned. Ammunition is less plentiful. Some enemies refuse to die despite taking heavy damage, requiring you to run away at times. Enemies also like to surprise you, or just grab on. A particularly persistent enemy met later follows you by crawling through the ducts; when she first appeared, I almost dropped my 3DS!
+ Improved combat. The gun mechanics should be familiar, but subtle changes were made. Compared to Mercenaries, the controls are tighter. Even without the CPP, it’s possible to move and aim simultaneously (though not practical since it’s stiff). Dodging and melee makes engaging enemies more visceral, but this isn’t as wise. Several moments force you to choose well between fight or flight, and master the dodge commands. However, even fleeing doesn’t guarantee safety because of movement speed. Every enemy encounter necessitates strategy. Thankfully the controls are responsive.
+ Varied enemies and challenges. You begin by facing shambling zombies, and eventually meet fast-moving hunters and underwater freaks. The game ramps up the difficulty by both introducing new foes and sending multiple at once. You’re sometimes limited in self-defense. Swimming cancels out your gun, forcing you to rely on shock grenades. Other scenarios make you find the best possible route and manage your time. The bosses are particularly cool and tough. One of the earliest may remind of a certain chainsaw-wielding maniac, but with a far more disturbing twist. The build-up to the encounter is tense and unnerving, and things take a turn for the worse when he finally appears…
+ Sound production. A quality horror experience doesn’t rely on blood or monsters alone. Periods of silence, loud noises, disturbing music…it all contributes to a memorable horror adventure. Revelations is wonderful in this department. Many enemies moan quietly from far away, but emit considerable noise when close. Other times, creepy in-and-out music punctuates already-tense situations to keep you on-edge.
+ Diverse customization and weapon options. There are many weapons to discover and use in the campaign and Raid Mode. The arsenal can be customized too. Greater damage, higher ammo capacity, faster firing, stopping power, etc, can be added to the guns. Several parts are tucked away in secret or hard-to-reach areas, but the rewards of finding and using them properly are great.
+ Excellent value. The campaign will last most about ten hours. That’s not shabby for an adventure game, regardless of genre or platform, especially if it’s memorable. Raid Mode can be played alone or with a buddy. It’s basically Mercenaries, but expanded. There’s character, costume, weapon, stage and challenge variety. Playing both modes rewards you with points to purchase Raid Mode weapons. Additional guns and parts can be unlocked in Raid, or by redeeming Play Coins. Raid Mode is more or less a short Horde Mode, where players must defeat enemy swarms. It’s mindless fun. Local wireless and online co-op make it even better, and Street Pass support is icing on the cake. Tagging other players nets special missions like “defeat 5 of a specific enemy” or “find and defeat a powerful monster in Stage 8.”
+ The Genesis scanner. Capcom rewards those who carefully examine every room, as you’ll uncover dozens of hidden items. Sometimes hectic situations make it seem impossible, but chances are there’s always some extra ammo or a handy item tucked away.
+ Change is frequent. The story is episodic, and subsequent chapters recap previous ones. Chapters vary in length, character use and setting. Tension is kept by making you guess where things are headed, especially with the persistent cliffhangers.
+ Effective storytelling. What makes Revelations is special because it never comes off as a spin-off. It’s a firm part of the series canon, and brings the necessary production to match. There’s still a certain level of absurdity (this is Resident Evil, after all), but Capcom did surprisingly well to keep things interesting and relevant. Jill Valentine takes center stage, but other characters old and new appear along the way.
+/- Pleasant jogging. That’s your running speed. I understand that it’s that way to make fleeing more difficult, but it’s frustrating to not have a dash option at times. Why not short bursts?
+/- Voice acting. It’s decent. Some characters fare better than others.
– Useless partners. Unlike RE5, your partner doesn’t drain your resources and get in the way, but he/she rarely helps during tense situations. They never seem to damage the enemy. That begs the question: why bother having a partner then?! Granted, the characters obviously are there for the story, but you might as well be alone.
– Inconsistent pacing and tone. Given the varied episodic chapters, the experience can feel disjointed.
– Some characters and dialogue is irritating.
The frame rate hiccups a lot, especially as areas load.
3DS owners need Resident Evil Revelations. It proves the series can still evolve positively and that the 3DS is home to impressive software. Any gamer with a penchant for horror or adventure should immediately buy what’s arguably the best original Nintendo 3DS game.