Rounding up Capcom's episodic adventure.
If you missed our review of episodes one to four of Resident Evil Revelations 2 or simply can’t be bothered reading them all individually, then fear not, we’re here to give you an overall review of the complete package.
Much like its predecessor Resident Evil: Revelations, which came packaged as a full game but divided its story into chapters, complete with recaps of previous episodes and previews of the next one, Resident Evil Revelations 2 is now available in a physical copy bundling together all four episodes along with two bonus episodes (don’t worry if you’ve been playing the episodes as they come out, the bonus episodes are available for download too).
In a way the retail edition is the ideal manner in which to experience Resident Evil Revelations 2. Having to wait a week for each new episode was frustrating on the one hand because the game’s good enough that you want to play more once each episode finished. On the other hand, the wait created a certain sense of anticipation for the next episode and being forced to wait for the resolution to each episode’s cliffhanger ending created a sense of tension that brilliantly complimented the series’ horror motif. Resident Evil Revelations 2 combines several of the series’ best traits – claustrophobic combat, creepy atmosphere, collectibles and hidden secrets to discover.
Although it does feel a little like the game is trying to emulate The Evil Within. Many early scenes, such as one that involves bodies dangling from a cage suspended through the middle of a spiral staircase, lack context for much of the game, and while the story’s theme of a Big Brother-esque villain trying to inspire fear in their victims does provide some explanation, it’s easy to think that Resident Evil Revelations 2 is trying to be scary by hanging dead bodies from every available space and hoping it gets to you.
Set between the events of Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, the game is split into two campaigns, both of which play out across each episode. The story opens with Claire Redfield and Moira Burton, daughter of Barry Burton, being kidnapped by masked assailants along with other members of biohazard prevention agency, Terra Save. Claire and Moira are taken to an island facility where the “Afflicted” – humans who have been infected with a new strain of virus that makes them violent and extremely hostile – run rampant. An unknown woman calling herself the “Overseer” watches via cameras and tells them the bracelets on their wrists record fear, tormenting the pair as they try to find a way off the island. The second half of each episode follows Barry Burton as he attempts to find his daughter with the help of Natalia, a young girl he meets when he first arrives at the island and seemingly the only survivor of what went down there.
The extra episodes bring the total play time for the single-player campaign to a comfortable 12 hours.
It only takes two hours to blast through each chapter, bringing the game to around eight hours in total, but the extra episodes add another couple of hours each, bringing the total play time for the single-player campaign to a comfortable 12 hours. It’s a mercy, then, that the co-op element work so well because you’ll spend much of that time exploiting it to stay alive. Each character’s paired off – Claire with Moira, Barry with Natalia – and once you get into the game’s mid-sections and beyond it becomes difficult to see how the paired characters could have survived without each other.
One section in episode three sees Claire and Moira taking separate paths through an exploding factory, with both taking it in turns to shut off gas leaks so the other can progress, giving credence to the game’s co-op engine and making it feel like an essential part of the experience rather than an item-gathering convenience. You really get the sense that they’re relying on each other to survive and the story reflects that brilliantly.
The reliance on your partner carries over into Barry’s campaign where Natalia’s assistance becomes invaluable as the game progresses. Her ability to squeeze through narrow gaps and access areas Barry can’t during puzzles becomes an essential survival tool, as does her ability to sense enemies through walls, which becomes damn near essential when giant invisible bugs that can kill you with one touch start appearing on the scene. At one point he needs her to turn a series of wheels on a higher platform that open gates standing in his way but she can also make Barry’s life easier by pushing explosive tanks onto the platform below, allowing Barry to lure enemies near them and take them out in one fell swoop by shooting the tank. It’s well thought out and a great example of co-op teamwork done right, not just for the Resident Evil series, but for gaming as a whole.
You can switch between characters at any time, which is particularly handy in Claire’s campaign as she takes charge of firearm duty while Moira helps out with a flashlight, a handy tool that does more than just light your way. Switch to Moira and you can shine it around to discover hidden items which gleam as the light hits them, at which point you’ll need to focus the beam with a button press in order to identify what the item is. It’s also an important combat tool, as focusing the beam on an enemy’s face for a few seconds blinds them, putting them into a stunned state that allows you and your partner to deliver a melee attack. It saves on ammo and lets Moira put her crowbar to suitable use.
Natalia has a similar ability, albeit one that involves pointing at items to help Barry spot them. She can also detect enemies by crouching, at which point they appear through walls, ceilings and floors as an orangey haze. Her combat ability is the weakest of the four characters – understandable since she’s a little girl – but she can pick up bricks and throw them at weaker enemies to stun them, then club them to death with it while they’re on the floor. If you’re lucky enough to have friends then the game can be played in co-op, too.
A later sequence sees Barry demanding to know “who’s the master of unlocking now?”
It also feels like there’s a real effort to connect all these characters in ways that references the series’ history right back to its first instalment. At one point Claire jokes to Moira that she was nearly a Claire sandwich after almost getting crushed, to which Moira exclaims “does Barry tell everyone that story?!” A later sequence sees Barry use a crane to smash through a locked set of double doors, demanding to know “who’s the master of unlocking now?” The identity of the Overseer ties heavily into the series’ mythology and anyone who’s been following the games’ overarching plotline for a while now will find the answer to at least one of the series’ mysteries resolved here. The characters develop nicely throughout the game, particularly Moira and Barry, whose relationship provides the heart of the story, and the ending sets up a tantalising future for the franchise.[yt_video id=”I9KfDiVhTyg”][/yt_video]
You’ll spend much of Barry’s campaign taking a stealth-based approach that offers gamers the chance to sneak around and knife enemies in the back rather than engaging them head on. Make too much noise or screw up your sneak attack and a veritable clown car of fugly opponents rush out of the woodwork to try and mince your bearded face. It feels a lot more rewarding than just blasting down wave after wave of mutated freaks, which sums up a lot of Claire’s campaign, but the experience is marred by a crushing sense of deja vu as you trek through the areas Claire and Moira have already explored in search of them.
The two extra episodes provide some welcome insight into Moira and Natalia’s stories, although the difficulty curve seems to shoot up during Moira’s section, even when set to easy. You have to hunt for food (live animals to you and I) at the start of her mission, which act as retries should you die. But once you run out of food bags (and you can only carry five), it’s game over and you have to restart the entire campaign from scratch. It’s frustrating to say the least and doesn’t inspire you to keep going if the worst occurs.
The weapons handle well enough and the re-introduction of the dodge mechanic is a big help in close-quarters combat. Weapon upgrades are invaluable and there’s also a skill tree that can be utilised by collecting and spending points from rubies and other jewels found throughout the map. This is especially true of Raid Mode, an arcade shooting gallery that effectively acts as a glorified Mercenaries mode from the previous games. The lack of online multiplayer is a disappointment but picking a character and embarking on missions to earn loot, gold, and experience in Raid Mode is still good fun as a single-player experience. There’s been a clear effort on Capcom’s part to keep the mode supported thanks to daily challenges that reward players with different items and collectables.
Review codes of Resident Evil Revelations 2 were provided courtesy of Capcom. The game was reviewed on PlayStation 4.