There was a time when Resident Evil was associated with words like “pioneering” and “incontrovertibly spine-chilling”, but since the Gamecube classic Resident Evil 4, this series has slowly been pulling away from everything we once cherished it for. However, the fortunes of this series changed when Resident Evil Revelations released on the 3DS (and later nearly every other platform imaginable), and while it wasn’t a survival horror masterpiece, it did begin the process of steering the series in the right direction. Its sequel Resident Evil Revelations 2, delivered in episodic format, successfully carries the baton and lifts the series to familiar heights with its simplified but intriguing story and terrifyingly intense action. Where it struggles most is in the occasional repetitiveness of the episodes.
In the first Resident Evil Revelations, we found ourselves constantly switching between characters and their different stories. It became extremely confusing and arduous at times. In the 4 episodes of Revelations 2 we cycle between 2 stories: Claire Redfield and Moira Burton have been trapped on a forsaken, monster infested island by a mysterious woman who watches their every step, and Barry Burton journeys to this island in search of his daughter Moira after she’s been missing for 6 months. Barry is aided by a young girl named Natalia, who quite obviously has a mysterious feel about her.
At one time, I mostly thought of Barry Burton as the guy who said, “You were almost a Jill sandwich”, but after this game, I am a huge Barry Burton fan. His story is one of redemption and recognition. He seeks to find his missing daughter in hopes to repair what he has ruined between them. The character Natalia helps to provide a basis of remembrance for Barry. His desire to protect her reminds him of all that he loves Moira for and the reasons he must fight to find her. For Moira, her story is a similar one of coming to grips with the father she didn’t choose to have but is left with, regardless. How can she love a person who has consistently let her down, time and time again? She also has to overcome a great deal of self-doubt to survive the island. Her partner Claire, however, felt like the weak link in the story. She has one brief scene in which I felt a twinge of empathy for her, but besides that, she is a pretty straightforward protagonist.
The gameplay between these groups’ abilities (Claire/Moira and Bary/Natalia) present some exciting options when dealing with what the game throws at you. Claire is the gun-toting hero while Moira uses her flashlight to brighten up dimly lit areas and also to help blind enemies. When playing co-op - which you can totally do - you can develop a nice rhythm to dealing with the lunatics of the island. Barry is the weapons expert in his story, while Natalia has the ability to see where are enemies are, while crouching. It’s very similar to the ability Joel had in The Last of Us. Some enemies are invisible (not fair, right?) and some are down right cruel in how tricky they can be. Having Natalia there to guide the way is a welcome addition. Both Moira and Natalia can point out hidden items in the environment, which is fantastic because I felt rewarded not only for exploring but also for focusing on areas. Capcom clearly wants you to look at the gorgeous environments it has built.
As I said, you can play co-op locally, but the skills of Moira and Natalia are limited to a point where I couldn’t envision playing in their roles for the full length of the game. Rather, I enjoyed playing single player and being able to switch to my supporting partner with the click of a button. With that being said, the A.I. doesn’t help very much. Occasionally Moira would blind a zombie for me, but this was all too rare an occurrence. In situations where Moira needed to use her crowbar to pry a door open while I fended of zombies, I would have to switch to Moira, select to pry open the door, and then switch back to Claire to defend us. It’s an unfortunate situation to be in, but I found a way to survive time after time. The odds are unfortunate but not impossible.
The combat in Revelations 2 has a great range of encounters. At times, I would be startled by a single enemy and later on be dealing with a terrifying horde of hungry infected. I was pleasantly thrilled by the ability to stealth kill enemies. I wish this option was presented more, and I felt that sometimes I was unfairly spotted. Regardless of how I chose to dispose of the bloodthirsty locals, I was satisfied by how these various situations were dispersed throughout each episode.
The island you traverse has quite a bit of diversity, from blood drenched meat factories to spooky abandoned warehouses. There are some great classic nods to previous encounters of the series. There was a small village that reminded me of the classic village sequence of Resident Evil 4 - complete with its own chainsaw wielding psychopath, while adding its own twist. Unfortunately, much of Barry’s campaign is spent retracing the steps that you had previously taken in the Claire/Moira campaign. Often times, you will take a different path and sometimes deal with enemies that Claire and Moira didn’t dispose of fully. It never makes the experience boring, but it does remove a bit of the ominousness and mystery from the environment.
I found the experience of Resident Evil Revelations 2 to be quite satisfying. In every way it improves upon its predecessor and that’s quite an feat to accomplish. If you’re new to the series, you’ll miss out on some nostalgia-filled moments, but you’ll also be thoroughly entertained and frightened by the great story, characters, and solid combat. There are plenty of items that need correcting but what Revelations 2 focuses on most, it gets right. With this latest entry, Resident Evil is finally on the brink of regaining its former glory.