I first played Resident Evil Revelations when it first came out on the 3DS back in 2012. It was an extremely impressive game, boasting what might still be the best graphics on the handheld and just about everything you would expect from the Resident Evil series. A year later, it was ported to home consoles. Can a game that was designed with the 3DS’s tiny screen still turn out alright on an HDTV?The good news is, the amount of detail in the game really holds up. You start the game on a derelict ship with tons of debris, clutter, and damage. It sells the mood of the game very well. Unfortunately, character models didn’t make the transition nearly as well. While they certainly aren’t bad, they have this artificial look to them, like they’re animatronics or something. After playing for a bit, I got used to the look, but it was always clear that this started out on a handheld.
The core structure of the game is fairly unique in the Resident Evil franchise. The core series, up until the fourth game, Code Veronica, had been primarily about ammo conservation and puzzle solving. Resident Evil 4 threw most of that away and made a game that was much more action focused. 5 and 6 would continue that trend, going even further in the action direction. Revelations feels like something in the middle. It’s slow paced, and even in the early sections, ammo is scarce. While there hasn’t been much in the way of puzzles so far (and I don’t remember how that went from the first time I played on 3DS, it’s been four years), slowing uncovering a single map by finding keys to open locked paths feels right at home in the older games.
Combat, however, is taken straight from the later games. Holding down ZL will make you pull out your gun, which you can then freely aim like a shooter. On the 3DS, pulling the gun out caused you to plant your feet, just like Resident Evil 4 and 5, unless you had the Circle Pad Pro attachment. On the Wii U, you just have two analog sticks, so without having to bolt on any extra pieces of hardware, you can freely move while aiming. This is actually the first time in the series that this was possible, and would be carried over into 6 and Revelations 2. I’ve heard the argument that having to plant your feet adds tension to the game, and thus should be the only way to play. But personally, I don’t agree. You’re movement is slow, so you’re not overpowered while moving, and it just makes more sense. In real life, if a zombie was coming after you, you’d move, right?
I don’t remember much of this game’s story beyond what I played today, but the basic setup is serviceable. Basically, Jill Valentine and her partner Parker have been tasked with tracking down Chris Redfield and his partner Jessica. The point in which they lost contact was in the Mediterranean on a ship. And thus begins the investigation. Things get a little weird shortly after though, as we’re suddenly playing as Chris, and not out at sea at all. Instead we’re in some snowy mountains, tracking down a terrorist group called Veltro. Chris and Jill’s boss, O’Brian, claims it must have been bad intel that sent Jill to the Mediterranean, but I don’t know, seems kind of weird.
Chris’s section is considerably more action focused than Jill’s. Instead of exploring a large ship and slowly unlocking different areas, you run in a linear path, fighting mutated dogs along the way. Chris also starts with more weapons than Jill did, and can hold way more ammo. You also find lure grenades which are really useful. When you throw them, all the enemies get attracted to it and then explode. There’s a section where an injured Chris has to fight off a massive swarm of the enemies, making the lures very helpful.
When I first started the game, it asked me if I wanted to turn on Miiverse features. These are apparently messages that you post to Miiverse that get attached to enemies or deaths. I turned them on, but with spoilers turned off, however I never encountered any of them. That’s kind of a shame. I really like creative ways of putting Miiverse posts into games, like the messages in a bottle in Wind Waker HD, so it would have been nice to see exactly how this game implemented the idea. It’s worth noting that Miiverse wasn’t on the 3DS at the time that the game originally came out, so this was a totally new feature for the Wii U release.
Resident Evil Revelations is a very cool game that should be played by fans of the series. While the home console release isn’t nearly as impressive as the 3DS one, the quality of the game design still shines through. If you’re looking for a survival horror game to play this October and haven’t had a chance to play through Revelations, I’d say give it a shot.