By James Best / June 21st, 2012
The survival horror genre has become a sort of lost cause in the gaming industry. As games moved towards fast-paced, high-octane action, the slower, more subtle nuances of survival horror seemed to fall out of popularity. No one wanted to play a game where their characters moved like tanks, enemies took a lot of bullets, and ammo was too scarce to satisfy any gunfire orgies. In no series was this shift more apparent than Capcom’s Resident Evil, the game that popularized survival horror in the first place. With Resident Evil 4, the series began to focus less on scaring its audience and more on providing them with an enjoyable experience with terrific atmosphere. Since then, the series has drifted even further from its roots, with some of its later entries being widely criticized for a number of reasons.
Thus, while Resident Evil has grown to become more a horror-themed action game than survival horror, one recent game in the series has arisen to infect the series with the survival horror aspects long since lost. Resident Evil: Revelations was released on the Nintendo 3DS in February 2012. The game is an attempt by Capcom to infuse the series with its long lost survival horror identity.
Unlike recent Resident Evil games, Revelations takes place in a claustrophobic setting: a derelict cruise ship stranded in theMediterranean Sea. Jill Valentine and Parker Luciani, two agents from a counter-bioterrorist group, are sent to investigate the wreckage after another agent, Chris Redfield, disappeared near the site. In typical Resident Evil fashion, Jill and Parker find the ship infested with bloodthirsty mutant monsters.
With the story taking place in the ruins of a once luxurious cruise ship, the game creates an excellent sense of atmosphere. There are dark, narrow corridors that twist and turn, forcing the player to carefully peer past each corner to be sure that no monsters lie in wait beyond. Speaking of monsters, Revelations introduces a new breed of mutation: the Ooze. The Ooze are not the typical zombies often seen in the Resident Evil series. Sure, they may shamble about, moaning like there is no tomorrow, but there is one key difference that sets them apart. They are more limber than their undead cousins, which means they can crawl out of the most unexpected places. Even when you think a room is secure, you never know when an Ooze can come sliding out of an air duct or crawl through a gap in a bookshelf. Given the fact that the Ooze aren’t encountered with every step the player takes, getting accustomed to their tactics can be difficult, which keeps them scary far into the game.
There is additional backstory that can be found through journals and diaries scattered throughout the ship. Similar to Metroid Prime, these entries go a long way towards filling in the blanks and making the game that much creepier.
Unfortunately, the game is broken up by a handful of high-action sequences. While these action-focused scenes are not inherently bad, they only serve to break up the player’s immersion. One of these action sequences devolves into nothing more than mindless, tedious shooter fest.
Revelations‘s graphics are entirely commendable, especially for a 3DS game. There is an incredible amount of detail and the textures look really nice. The excellent lighting effects lend further atmosphere. All this and the game still runs very smoothly with only the occasional hiccup during loading periods. This is a groundbreaking game for the 3DS, technologically speaking. It shows that Nintendo’s new handheld is no slouch when it comes to graphical processing.
The music is tense and atmospheric, but what makes the sounds of Revelations so unsettling are the voices of a couple of the bosses. Unlike other Ooze, the bosses retain the ability to speak, but their voices are eerily distorted by the mutation. Hearing another person’s voice makes players want to seek the speaker out, but the distortion keeps them wary and on edge.
Revelations puts a special emphasis on survival horror. As mentioned before, the setting is claustrophobic and eerie, the enemies are unpredictable, and the atmosphere is always tense. Additionally, players have limited access to ammo and health-restoring herbs, forcing them to regulate their resources to avoid running them dry. Enemies will have to be left standing and slight wounds unhealed if the player plans on getting anywhere.
The game also sports a diverse number of control options. Players can aim with the stick or the gyro sensor, whichever they prefer. Of course, the game also makes use of the Circle Pad Pro, a shell that attaches to the bottom of the 3DS, adding another circle pad and two trigger buttons. This method is one of the best as it allows the player to move and aim at the same time, an invaluable asset in combat.
Another interesting addition to Revelations is Raid Mode, a multiplayer game where two players cooperate to mow down enemies throughout various areas from the main game. This is a deep and satisfying addition to the game. There are different characters to play as, skills to level up, weapons to find and upgrade, and missions to complete. Raid Mode is a great addition that will keep players amused long after completing the main story.
Resident Evil: Revelations tries to return the series to its survival horror roots and it does a good job of it. The atmosphere is decidedly horrifying with the enclosed environment, unpredictable enemies, and eerie music. It may not stay that way throughout, but it will still keep you on the edge of your seat. With a deep multiplayer element, there is a lot value to be had. Buy Resident Evil: Revelations and a Circle Pad Pro and prepare to abandon hope as you embark on one of the 3DS’s scariest offerings yet.
CapcomNintendoResident Evil: RevelationsSurvival Horror