Up until Resident Evil 7: Biohazard's release earlier this year, one could argue that the last game in the franchise to come close to the classic survival horror formula was Resident Evil Revelations. Originally released on Nintendo 3DS at the start of 2012 and slowly brought everywhere else over the years, the game has often been considered one of the strongest entries in the franchise. Now hitting the Nintendo Switch, does the game hold up or is this a sinking ship?
The game opens up with long-time Resident Evil mainstay Jill Valentine and newcomer Parker Luciani arriving at a cruise ship called the Queen Zenobia in order to find the missing Chris Redfield. Unfortunately, they quickly discover that this is a trap, and it isn't long before they're the ones that need saving. At the same time, an old terrorist organization is threatening to unleash a new virus, while a conspiracy pits two anti bio-terrorism groups against each other. The game basically breaks into four separate viewpoints as you follow either Jill, Parker, Chris, or another newcomer named Keith as they all explore their own plot threads. The game is paced like a TV show, with each episode having a cliffhanger ending and opening with a recap of the last episode, making the plot super easy to follow for on-the-go players.
The problem is that the plot isn't really worth following. There's some initial promise in the mysteries presented, but it's not long before things go totally off the rails. Characters pull ridiculous betrayals, there are plans that can best be described as "convoluted nonsense", and the entire endgame hinges on the fact that an elected official was dumb enough to let a terrorist film him describing his evil plan in detail. Worse, Resident Evil Revelations has two characters who are possibly the worst new additions the franchise has ever seen. Tech guys Keith and Quint are easily two of the most annoying characters I've had the displeasure of interacting with in any Resident Evil game thanks to a combination of terrible writing and atrocious voice acting.
You'll spend the majority of the game as Jill exploring the Queen Zenobia, and it's here where Resident Evil Revelations plays closest to its survival horror roots. You'll be wandering through the ship, finding keys and solving simple puzzles to unlock new sections to explore. Along the way, you'll also need to keep an eye out for ammo, weapons, herbs, and other items that will prolong Jill's survival. Supplies are in short order, so you'll have to do some serious rationing to prepare for all the nasty boys the game throws at you.
The Ooze serve as the game's main enemies, weird slimy beings that look like a horrid mix between a human and some unknown underwater creatures. They're great enemies, equally fun to fight and horrible to behold thanks to their weird mutations and creepy movements. They're also strong, and it's really important to carefully place shots that ensure you're hitting weak points and not wasting ammo. I found myself genuinely fearful as I saw my foes, often not sure I was ready for another encounter with such deadly enemies.
While the basic combat was fun, one thing that Resident Evil Revelations failed at compared to other games is providing exciting boss encounters. Most of the boss fights in the game are against enemies with large health bars and little to make them stand out. The few that try to break this mold aren't really worth writing home about. One on-rails boss tries for an intense battle, letting you use a helicopter's chain guns against a giant stationary target. Sadly, it ends up feeling like a dull slog of holding down the trigger for a few minutes rather than anything interesting. The final boss is easily the worst offender, requiring rapid-fire reactions that aren't telegraphed well before punishing players with inescapable attacks. It's a shame that these lackluster moments fail to live up to the memorable boss encounters elsewhere in the Resident Evil canon.
One of the big new features is the Genesis, a scanning device that puts you in first person mode. You can use it to scan enemies, which rewards healing items at regular intervals. It can also find hidden objects in the environment like ammo caches and collectible handprints. On one hand, it's a good way to make sure I spent more time exploring the environment. I spent a lot of time going over rooms with the Genesis just to be sure I had everything. On the other hand, that's also the problem with Genesis. Instead of moving the game forward at a quicker pace, I was slowed down and constantly triple checking rooms just to be totally sure I got everything. A faster way to use Genesis would have been appreciated, as the general idea behind it isn't a bad one.
About once per episode, you'll break off to play as one of the other three characters. Their sections are a lot more linear, just having you travel from point A to point B while fighting enemies along the way. They'll get predefined weapon loadouts and usually more than enough ammo to blaze their way through everything in front of them. It's not scary, nor does it require the same level of precision and exploration as Jill's segments, but it's a great way to break away and just let you have fun shooting things. They don't interrupt the game too much to get annoying and it's a smart way to break up the game with unique segments during its seven-hour runtime.
As you complete levels, you'll be awarded BP that you can spend in the game's Raid Mode. Here you'll go through levels of the game, either alone or online with a second player. These stages play almost like an RPG, having you fight enemies with visible levels, health bars, and buffs. You'll deal damage that is clearly displayed by numbers popping out of the enemies, and you'll level up your characters and earn more BP to customize your weapons as you play. The levels are short and sweet, only taking a couple of minutes each.
I found myself having quite a bit of fun with Raid Mode. Running through missions was a great way to kill five minutes here or there, and I enjoyed trying to make my characters and weapons as OP as possible. That said, I was rather disappointed that the game only reuses levels from the campaign. While Resident Evil Revelations 2 would go on to also borrow from other games in a sort of "greatest hits" fashion, Resident Evil Revelations feels more like a test run that doesn't extend out of itself. Still, it's hard to deny that a good time can be had here and I can easily see players coming back for more.
New to the Nintendo Switch version of Resident Evil Revelations is a little extra mini-game called Ghost Ship Panic. There's really not much to see here, just a little shooting gallery where you move a cursor around to shoot enemies before they can get across the screen. Every time you kill an enemy you can get points, and at the end, you'll get some BP depending on how many points you've collected. It's cute, but gets boring fast and isn't nearly worth the price of admission if you have Resident Evil Revelations on another platform.
When Resident Evil Revelations came out in 2012 it was genuinely one of the best entries to the series. Five years later and I think it has lost that status, but that doesn't change the fact that it is still a great entry. While the story may be nonsense and the game's boss fights are disappointing, it stills provides a thrilling horror game that has no problem occasionally breaking into action. If you've missed out on one of this game's many re-releases, now is the perfect time to grab it.
Resident Evil Revelations was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC via Steam, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS.
Resident Evil Revelations suffers from some problems, but none that stop it from being one of the stronger entries to the Resident Evil series.
- Episodic Structure Makes it Easy to Pick Up and Put Down
- Great Enemies
- Smart Use of Occasional Action
- Genesis Makes Exploration Worth It
- Raid Mode is Tons of Fun
- Dumb Story, Terrible Characters
- Lame Boss Fights
- Genesis Can Become Too Overused
- New Mode is Pointless