Resident Evil Revelations 2 review

Resident Evil Revelations 2 feasts on the flesh of its predecessors

Resident Evil Revelations 2 is a paint-by-the-numbers exercise in survival horror lacking in bite strength
Resident Evil Revelations 2 is a paint-by-the-numbers exercise in survival horror lacking in bite strength
Resident Evil Revelations 2 is a paint-by-the-numbers exercise in survival horror lacking in bite strength

Highs

  • Everything you expect from a Resident Evil game is here
  • Claire and Moira's campaign feels drastically different from Barry and Natalia's

Lows

  • The story does more to set up a future conflict than present an interesting current one
  • Monster designs and puzzles feel uninspired
  • Co-op partners are relegated to puzzle solution tools, not equal partners

DT Editors' Rating

In comic books, you’ll sometimes spot an Issue #0. These one-offs usually help set up a larger event, storyline or character arc, providing backstory and context for what is to come. They can be dramatic, funny, action-packed, and nice to look at, but they’re also often light on substance, and rarely are they considered a “must-have,” save for the most diehard of fans.

As the Resident Evil series has aged, it’s also been split and fractured.

In summing up Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I can think of no better comparison. This is an Issue #0 of Capcom’s survival-horror universe; a game that features series staples – the undead and the mutated, impractical mansions, obtuse puzzle-solving, and campy, theatrical villains – but ultimately feels like a prelude and preview of something more grand.

As the Resident Evil series has aged, it’s also been split and fractured. Resident Evil 6 is arguably the clearest example of how much has changed over the past nine years, featuring a campaign full of Michael Bay-esque explosion porn and roundhouse kicks. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the Revelations spin-off games, which have been touted by Capcom as a return to the series’ horror roots.

The idea then, is that if you’re looking for action-oriented gameplay, stick with the numbered Resident Evil games. If you’re looking for horror, the Revelations games are designed for you.

In a sense, Revelations 2 accomplishes this well. The first chapter of this episodic game begins with heroine Claire Redfield and her friend Moira Burton being besieged by men with guns and a helicopter before waking up in an island prison. It’s an opening reminiscent of Resident Evil: Code Veronica, another game starring the ponytail-ed heroine.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 screenshot 30

The prison provides a claustrophobic atmosphere, filled with dread, mystery, and scientific experiments gone wrong. An omniscient Overseer taunts the pair, switching between proclaiming that their deaths are near and quoting Franz Kafka. Once Claire and Moira reach their cliffhanger, the perspective shifts to Barry Burton, who has come to the island in search of his daughter.

Both sections give players a second character to guide through the treacherous landscape. These characters can be either AI or human-controlled, and their abilities differ extensively. Moira uses a flashlight to search for items and blind enemies, while a young girl named Natalia assists Barry by squeezing through small spaces and using a sixth sense to tell where enemies are.

Revelations 2 just can’t let go of the good old days, when fake human organs unlocked secret doorways.

It’s an interesting concept, though an unevenly implemented one. Moira and Natalia both remark how they want to be of use and not a burden to their protectors, but it’s hard to think of them as anything other than tag-alongs that need only be called upon to solve a small puzzle or open a lockbox. Natalia’s special ability also has the uncanny ability to suck the suspense from the game. After all, you can’t be ambushed by a zombie lurking on the other side of a door if you know it’s waiting for you.

Thankfully, the companion characters aren’t the only difference between campaigns. Where Claire and Moira must often fight mutated prisoners who are still mostly human, Barry frequently crosses paths with more monstrous creatures and the undead. In this way, Revelations 2 provides an experience that nods to previous Resident Evil games, both those from long ago and those that exhibit Resident Evil 4‘s massive influence.

Unfortunately, the problem with paying homage to your own product is that there’s a fine line between honoring what’s come before and simply checking off boxes of what to include. Revelations 2 wears its heritage on its sleeve, and that’s fine. But it’s also predictable.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 screenshot 33

For example, it’s easy to categorize each episode of Revelations 2 by the aspect of Resident Evil which it represents. Episode 1 is officially called “Penal Colony,” but it as may as well be “The Jump Scares.” Episode 3, with a spiked ceiling death trap and reliance on block pushing, could be renamed “Obtuse Puzzles.” Claire and Moira are often genuinely terrified of what’s happening around them, while Barry can’t resist making bad puns and quips that reference previous games. “Who’s the master of unlocking now?” he asks after destroying a door.

Revelations 2 just can’t let go of the good old days, when “Jill sandwiches” were on the menu, and fake human organs unlocked secret doorways. And again, that’s not necessarily bad. In fact, I’d wager some fans have longed to search for “Emblem Key” and throw their shoulders into chest-high obstacles.

Sadly, the game never executes or elevates these concepts to a particularly satisfying degree. Its barebones plot does more to set up a future installment and antagonist than provide an interesting conflict of its own, its monster designs and puzzles sometimes feel copy-pasted from previous games, and the co-op gameplay does little to change the experience (and when it does, it’s generally for the worse). The dungeon-like Raid Mode, where players continually loot stronger and stronger enemies for better and better guns makes for a good, repeatable challenge, but still feels ancillary to the main event.

Revelations 2 is neither a particularly good game nor a particularly bad one. It has all the ingredients of a good Resident Evil game, but lacks substance. Viewed as a setup for what’s to come, it’s bearable. Viewed as its own game, it’s underwhelming. An Issue #0 if I ever saw one.

This game was reviewed on an Xbox One using a code provided by Capcom.

Highs

  • Everything you expect from a Resident Evil game is here
  • Claire and Moira’s campaign feels drastically different from Barry and Natalia’s

Lows

  • The story does more to set up a future conflict than present an interesting current one
  • Monster designs and puzzles feel uninspired
  • Co-op partners are relegated to puzzle solution tools, not equal partners
Product Review

Brutal and emotional, 'God of War' is everything a blockbuster game should be

In a new land, on a new journey, God of War evolves beyond the button-mashing action of its youth into an action game with engaging combat and an engrossing story.
Photography

Fujifilm now has a crazy 46x zoom lens — 9.5mm to 437mm — for 4K video

If you're watching a sports game next year and see the view zoom from an extreme wide angle to up close and personal, Fujifilm's new lens may be to blame. Here's how Fujifilm technology created a 46x zoom 9.5-437mm lens.
Mobile

A library at your fingertips: The 101 best free Kindle books

You shouldn't always have to pay for a good read. Here are our picks for the best free Kindle books, so you don't have to sort through thousands of titles on Amazon and Google Play. We divided them into various genres, so dive in.
Gaming

The N64 was an all-star console with a line-up of all-star games. These were the best.

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.
Computing

Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 20 Series starts at $500 and features real-time ray tracing

Nvidia revealed its new GeForce RTX 2000 Series of add-in desktop graphics cards for gamers during its pre-show Gamescom press event. The new family is based on Nvidia’s new “Turing” architecture focusing on real-time ray tracing.
Computing

Nvidia GeForce RTX GPUs are coming to Alienware and Predator gaming desktops

Dell and Acer have both announced support for Nvidia's new GeForce RTX 2000 graphics cards in refreshed gaming desktops, including Predator Orion series systems and Alienware desktops.
Product Review

'Battle for Azeroth' lets you play Warcraft without canceling evening plans

‘Battle for Azeroth’ promises to put you in the middle of a new war between the Alliance and Horde. The plot too quickly unravels into dull fetch quests, but the game’s variety keeps you itching to log in it even as the story…
Gaming

‘Battlefield V’ beta with new multiplayer experience kicks off September 6

Battlefield V's open beta comes to consoles and PC on September 6. If you pre-order the game, you'll get a two-day head start on September 4 to try out the story-driven multiplayer experience Grand Operations.
Gaming

‘Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice,’ next game from ‘Dark Souls’ dev, coming March 22 2019

Activision has announced that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, an upcoming game from the developers of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, has finally earned a worldwide release date for next March.
Gaming

Amazon is killing off Prime’s new-game, pre-order discount

Amazon is ending its 20-percent discount on pre-ordered games for its Prime members later this month, instead offering a small voucher for a select number of pre-ordered games. Previous orders won't be affected.
Gaming

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ gets ‘Blackout’ beta on all platforms next month

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will hold a beta for its battle royale Blackout mode in September, and it will be available first to those who pre-ordered the game on PlayStation 4. The game releases October 12.
Computing

Nvidia’s new GPUs look amazing, but that doesn’t mean you should buy one

Nvidia's GeForce 2080 is a powerful graphics card that supports ray tracing to deliver real-time cinematic renderings of shadows, light, and reflection in games, but unless you were already planning on upgrading, you'll probably want to…
Computing

Asus gets ‘tough’ on gamers using two TUF Gaming FX laptops built for abuse

If you’re looking for a “tough” gaming laptop that won’t set your wallet on fire, Asus introduced two new solutions under its TUF Gaming FX banner. The FX505 dons a 15.6-inch screen while the FX705 sports a 17.3-inch screen.
Gaming

PlayStation 4: New DualShock colors will jazz up your gaming sessions

If your current DualShock 4 controller looks a little on the dull side, then check out these funky new designs just announced by Sony. There are four in all, with Sunset Orange the most likely to brighten up your PS4 sessions.