When Resident Evil tries to have its cake and eat people too.
At the outset of Resident Evil Revelations 2, players are greeted with a very promising product: four episodes of terror, meant to hearken back to the true survival-horror roots of the Resident Evil series. But as players follow through the two plot threads, between peculiar puzzles and trigger-happy shootouts, between touching moments and extremely convenient plot points, they may be tempted to put this entry in the Resident Evil series out of its own misery. Resident Evil Revelations 2 is an entry that is serviceable overall, but could have been oh-so-much more.
The game starts out with promise: fan-favorite Claire Redfield welcomes newcomer Moira Burton, daughter of Resident Evil legend Barry Burton, to her first day at TerraSave. And what better way to celebrate than a huge terrorist attack and abduction?! Claire and Moira find themselves trapped inside a Penal Colony on an abandoned island run by someone who calls herself The Overseer. Meanwhile, Barry, learning of his estranged daughter's abduction, journeys to the island and allies himself with a mysterious young girl called Natalia, searching the island for answers.
Throughout the game, players are at the mercy of Revelations 2's disjointed nature; smoothness in presentation is not this game's forte. Players will often find themselves pondering how to solve a puzzle or recover an item, when suddenly doors fly open and zombies make themselves known. Not all these creatures are shufflers; many will come at our heroes with quickness, some even leaping forward to attack. And just as quickly as the last one dies, players are forced to continue the puzzle or search among the ruins.
At times, the pace slows down considerably to focus on puzzle-solving. In Episode 3, this works fantastically to the game's credit. Classic Resident Evil-style puzzles take dominance in Judgment, requiring a bit more logic than those of the first two episodes, though the puzzles still retain the random-object-in-random-place tactic. Other times, however, the slow pace becomes tedious, as it does in Episode 4, during the climactic act where a brisk, exciting pace is expected.
Revelations 2's gameplay and controls are smooth; anyone comfortable with the control scheme of recent Resident Evil offerings should have no problem picking up on Revelations 2, making for smooth combat sequences. The combat, again, sometimes felt welcome, as in the first episode's jarring switches between puzzlers and shoot-outs, and sometimes felt like it was stuck in for no reason other than depleting your ammo.
Throughout the game, the plot and connection between Barry Burton and young Natalia stood as the stronger of the two. Players get to see a softer side of the gruff Barry Burton, especially in examining his relationship with his foul-mouthed daughter, Moira. Barry and Natalia build a bond that rings through their teamwork. Barry could never get as far as he does without the help of Natalia, and she in turn learns about the hell she's surrounded by thanks to Barry.
Claire's sidekick, Moira, starts off less pleasant, with the younger Burton about as helpful as a dead cell phone when your car breaks down. To Capcom's credit, however, as the story progressed, I found myself caring more and more about Moira. As players learn her backstory, they may genuinely want to change her fate as they learn it in the first half of the game. Granted, between the two Natalia is the more useful of the sidekicks, but be that as it may, Moira blossoms in the latter half of the game.
The plot takes convenient twists and turns in common Resident Evil fashion, but just as things start to pick up steam in Episode 3, the final episode seems to just jam everything together as quickly as possible, culminating in a final boss fight that is somehow simultaneously spectacular in its design and disappointing in its delivery. There isn't a sense of satisfaction found there that can be found, albeit in a spotty manner, throughout the game.
Though I found quite a bit to dislike about Resident Evil Revelations 2 as a whole, I found quite a bit to like throughout the game as well, as if I had found gaming oasis among a tedious desert of game. When the game delivers, it delivers on all cylinders, providing hope that, yes, this was the point (wherever it may be). The game really takes off, though it loses steam in mundane ways. Fans of the series will love the referential nods, and how it ties in with the story of the overall franchise, lodging neatly in the nook between Resident Evil 5 and 6. To those less familiar with the goings-on of the franchise, Revelations 2 starts by laying out the necessary framework, but expects certain knowledge come the big plot twists found around Episode 3.
The retail version of the game also includes Raid Mode, a point-A-to-point-B shooter that makes for a fun diversion when a break is needed from all the twists and turns, and two bonus mini-episodes that shed more light on the plot. Overall, though, Resident Evil Revelations 2 suffers from the same disjointed quality that initially makes it look appealing. It's a good game that potentially could have been great had Capcom just given it a bit more time or a bit more direction.
Code provided by publisher. Review based on Xbox One version. Also available on PlayStation 4, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.