There’s something quite scary about Resident Evil Revelations.
Having once claimed that Nintendo’s Wii couldn’t muster up the horsepower to run Resident Evil 5’s title screen, Capcom has delivered to our hands something that’s so on par with the console-sized experience that you’ll wonder what sorcery made it possible.
More terrifying is the fact that Capcom has reverted from the recent gun-toting transgressions to something more in line with the chilling atmosphere and sense of dread many had feared the series had outgrown.
Like we said, scary stuff.
This sea-faring chapter takes place aboard the derelict cruise liner and centre stage for Revelations’s many bombshells, the Queen Zenobia.
A medley of old and mostly horrendous new cast members drives the heavy-handed narrative, which is split into 12 bite-sized chapters each bookended with a recap of previous events and cliff hanger.
You’ll regularly backtrack through the ship’s elaborate promenades and avoid the horrors waiting below the deck, but regular detours will regale you with the backgrounds of Revelations’s newest recruits and attempt to apply context to a tangled mess of a story.
While the storytelling is inconsistent, the balance of new and old gameplay remains a constant.
The finely tuned mechanics of Resident Evil 4 have undergone further tweaking to enable you to strafe whilst aiming down the sights, and a swift dodging mechanic allows you to slip past the bullet-sponging creatures that plague the Zenobia unharmed.
Where Revelations is likely to strike a chord is in its opening acts. The scarcity of ammunition will have you creeping carefully around the ship’s mansion-like quarters, jumping as enemies drop in from the air ducts or cackle from behind closed doors.
Visually, it’s one of the 3DS’s more flashy titles, and the locations aboard the ship and back on land look stunning in 3D. Revelations’s score punctuates its story-driven twists and dies down to complete silence to heighten the tension in preparation for the next shock.
So it’s disappointing that Capcom doesn’t follow through on this frightening direction. For every survival-horror trope, there's a concession to accessibility to counter it.
A short supply of ammo is less daunting when you can attach upgrades to your weapons à la Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D that add extra firepower to each round, while the Genesis scanning device rewards you for X-raying enemies by keeping your green herb supply afloat.
Fans will appreciate Revelations’s throwbacks, but they'll be left wanting much more. In the game’s latter stages, things revert back to the series' new ways and the puzzles of traditional Resident Evil titles are overlooked almost entirely, leaving you to solve the same electronic lock puzzle four or five times.
Somewhere beyond the sea
What really saves it is the unlockable Raid mode - Capcom’s answer to a deeper version of Mercenaries.
Select cuts of the campaign are stuffed with multiple enemy variants, from small but speedy to armoured fiends for you to mow down as you head towards the goal at the end of each level, either alone or with a friend in local or online co-op.
An RPG element holds the mode together, restricting guns, skins, and other extras until you've invested the time to earn them. You'll also have a place to spend the abundance of points you accumulate in the Campaign mode, giving you a slight headstart on proceedings.
Missions - with objective-based achievements - will also keep you coming back, unlocking new additions in both the Campaign and Raid modes, with more available via StreetPass.
Capcom has delivered a game with more pros than cons. The back and forth of its narrative and abysmal choice of characters sour a story that's trying too hard to be clever and compelling.
It's hard not to be in awe of the rest of it, though. Best enjoyed alone, in the dark, with a pair of headphones and the 3D slider cranked up, Resident Evil Revelations is a worthwhile venture for fans and thrill seekers alike.
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