There's an ep for that
Were barely into 2015, yet already keeper-of-the-flame Capcom has been truly spoiling lovers of Resident Evil first with the HD Remake of the original game, which spawned the survival-horror genre (and many films), and now with Resident Evil Revelations 2. Unusually (nay, uniquely) for a Resident Evil game, Revelations 2 takes a properly innovative approach: it is available as four episodes (plus two bonus ones), which can be bought individually for a paltry £4.99 or on disk, as a whole season, for about £25.
These are early days for episodic games, so the jury is still out regarding whether they represent the future or just a fad. But the approach works a treat for the second instalment of Revelations a more bite-sized adjunct to the main franchise which started life in 2012 on the Nintendo 3DS. Taken as a whole, its more impressive than Resident Evil 5 or 6, which were justifiably criticised for going too far in the direction of action rather than survival. Revelations 2, in contrast, offers the judicious mix of zombie-shooting, object-collection and puzzle-solving that we crave from a Resident Evil game, with a few welcome new twists and additions.
Plot-wise, Revelations 2 brings to mind Lost. It begins with Claire Redfield starting a new job at an outfit called Terra Save but, of course, that plan doesnt pan out. She wakes up in a mysterious dungeon, with Moira, Barry Burtons daughter, in tow. Their first task is to escape and, instantly, Revelations 2s key dynamic comes into play, as you have to swap between characters to solve puzzles. Moira doesnt do guns, but she has a crowbar and a torch (which can be used to blind and daze advancing zombies, and to discover hidden pick-ups). The whole game can be played co-operatively (although the PC version, to the dismay of many, doesnt support split-screen mode).
Each episode is split into two parts in the first one, for example, Claire and Moira discover they are on an island, and when they reach their objective, the action shifts to Barry Burton, steaming in to rescue his daughter, who hooks up with a taciturn but brave little girl called Natalia. Shes almost no use in combat, but can crawl into tiny spaces, and also has the ability to sense both the presence of zombies and, with certain types, their weak spots, which helps Barry take them down with the maximum efficiency.
For each episode, you get between two and three hours of gameplay, which makes the single-player game as a whole entity much meatier than that of, say, The Order: 1886. And the gameplay is of the highest quality, at least if youre a Resident Evil traditionalist. As you progress, the zombies become ever more outlandish and, while youre rarely beset by giant hordes of them (unlike in the main games post Resident Evil 4), you have to adopt different tactical approaches for each type, with even a modicum of stealth creeping in at times. There are, of course, bosses and mini-bosses to battle.
The games dual-perspective narrative cleverly allows the reuse of assets, so you find yourself retracing the same levels (often in different directions) with different characters and for once, that approach doesnt grate. The storyline, meanwhile, is typically overblown, with plenty of twists giving each episode a cliffhanger ending, and includes some classic baddies from the series. There are some timed sequences and some great puzzles which will have you scratching your head.
Whether you should invest in the two bonus episodes, though, is debatable. Of the two, The Struggle, which sees Moira Burton take centre stage (and learn to wield guns) is by far the superior, with odd periods of hunting interspersed with stand-offs against hordes of zombies. Little Miss, however, puts you in control of Natalia, and only offers stealth gameplay, which proves a tad lame.
But beyond the single-player game, theres still a vast amount to keep you occupied in the form of Raid mode, which is Resis equivalent of horde mode and sees you navigating short levels (occasionally under timing constraints), with the objective of killing specified numbers of zombies. Thanks to a great levelling up system and the ability to play as even the more obscure characters in the game, this proves insanely addictive, and will keep you occupied for months.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 may be only an episodic game, with a commensurately attractive price-tag, but it thoroughly outshines Capcoms recent main iterations of the franchise. Its an absolute no-brainer of a purchase for Resident Evil fans, but also provides the ideal introduction for those who have never experienced the franchise before. Hopefully, Resident Evil 7 will draw inspiration from it, rather than Resident Evil 5 or 6.