Capcom is one of the biggest names in the industry, and the Japanese gaming giant has no shortage of iconic IPs under its belt. However, few of those IPs have been and continue to remain as successful as Resident Evil. While the franchise has enjoyed a great run with its mainline console releases, some spin-offs of the franchise continue to be underrated gems that really need more recognition by series fans.
One such spin-off is Resident Evil: Revelations, which was released for the Nintendo 3DS back in 2012. The game was praised by critics for its visuals, story, and ambition – though it’s possible that many fans of the franchise may have passed on the game. But more than 10 years later, Resident Evil: Revelations remains one hell of a survival horror experience despite a few cracks that have started to show up.
Revelations follows the story of B.S.A.A. operatives Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine as they embark on a quest to save the world. You see, a bioterrorist organization has been threatening to infect the planet’s oceans with a deadly virus. This terrorist organization – named Veltro – had previously unleashed biological weapons onto a city – and as a last resort to prevent the infection from spreading any further, the entire city had been torched down.
Our boulder-punching protagonist Chris Redfield goes missing while investigating the whereabouts of the organization, following which Jill lands on an abandoned ship by the name of Queen Zenobia. This kickstarts the narrative, and soon players are introduced to new characters and larger-than-life villains all while they peel the layers from conspiracies and betrayals and what have you.
Unlike prior entries, the story is presented in an episodic fashion – which is done with the intention of making the game better suited for portable play. While the narrative can sometimes become too convoluted with characters and plot points that only serve to pad out the story, it retains that zany Resident Evil charm through and through – and on the whole, it’s a pretty enjoyable story that holds an important place in the larger Resident Evil plot.
Over on the gameplay front, Resident Evil: Revelations was made with the intention of recreating the sheer tension of the original games which saw you tip-toeing around spooky mansions all while you only had a handful of bullets in your clip. Later entries like Resident Evil 5 diverted the focus towards action, and while Revelations doesn’t really manage to be as scare-inducing as the originals – it finds itself within the sweet spot between what was at the time new and old.
As fans might already know, the game is played in a third-person perspective with an over-the-shoulder camera. But since the Nintendo 3DS only had one analog stick on the system, aiming your gun switches it up to a first-person perspective – which also slows down your movement speed. While it can feel a bit inconvenient at first, it also adds a sense of tension to the combat proceedings – and it works well given the constraints of the hardware.
Fun fact: Resident Evil: Revelations was the first game to feature support for the 3DS Circle Pad Pro accessory outside of Japan, because Capcom wanted to pounce on every opportunity it could for making the game’s controls better and more flexible for players.
The control shifts between Jill and Chris multiple times during the game, and you must make the most judicious use of your limited resource to reach objectives – which range from solving puzzles to defeating bosses and surviving waves of enemies. The enemies themselves also strike a careful balance between being nimble and slow, and different enemy types obviously require different kinds of strategies to defeat. And even if they come really close, you could always switch to your trusty knife or melee finishers which look great.
You get to choose between different kinds of weapons ranging from the pistol to the submachine gun to shotguns among others – and each feels great to use with varied utility. Each of these weapons can also be upgraded with collected scraps, which adds an element of character progression to the gameplay proceedings as well.
Another new addition in terms of gameplay is the scanner, which is used to – you guessed it, scan your surroundings for resources. While ammunition can be collected without scanning, healing items and some other valuables remain hidden until you scan them with the equipment. Scanning your surroundings over and over again can become taxing after a while, and this particular aspect of the experience is easily one of the more frustrating things about the game.
The levels might not be the most sprawling, which can partly be attributed to the limited memory on the original hardware – but the feeling of claustrophobia that’s induced as you run down narrow corridors and passages actually help the game’s case in bringing back the classic horror that made the original games great in the first place. Sure, sometimes it can get too cramped for its own good – but it’s fine enough for the most part.
And there’s of course, the visuals which look absolutely great. The technical wizards over at Capcom actually utilized a heavily modded version of the MT Framework engine that was used in games like Lost Planet 2 – and the results are incredible. Despite being made for a handheld console, the visuals look really crisp with surprisingly high-quality assets and detailed facial models, and smooth animations – all running without any hitches. Of course, blasting those visuals onto a high-definition screen would make it look all muddy – but on the original 3DS screen, it looks absolutely fantastic.
As mentioned previously, Resident Evil: Revelations turned out to be a successful experiment – with some great critical reception. Capcom even ported the game over to eight-gen consoles in the form of an HD re-release – which is probably the best way to experience this horror classic. The visuals have been upscaled and enhanced alongside reworked controls, which results in an experience that’s very familiar to fans of modern Resident Evil games.
But coming back to the original question, what made Resident Evil: Revelations one hell of a game? It’s pretty hard to pin down exactly since the answer would most likely depend upon what you value most in a Resident Evil game – the story, the gameplay, the scares, or the boss fights – or perhaps the portable nature of this experience. But I think the most interesting thing about the game has to be the sweet middle ground that the game manages to reach; combining the claustrophobic levels and backtracking of the originals with a smooth third-person shooter combat loop inspired by modern shooters results in an experience that’s the best of both worlds – and I think that is what has helped Revelations in garnering a long-standing legacy for itself.
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