DJ Arruda ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Coming off the release of Resident Evil HD last month, Capcom returns with the sequel to 2012’s Resident Evil Revelations. Taking place in between Resident Evil 5 and 6, this title adopts the episodic formula which has worked so well for Telltale and applies it to its flagship series. Putting players in control of returning characters, Claire Redfield and Barry Burton, as well as introducing the latter’s daughter Moira, and a mysterious child named Natalia, the story starts off in this first episode with an exposition-heavy pilot. First gaining control of Claire and Moira— players are introduced to the two as agents for Terra Save, a new organization formed in the wake of Tricell’s nearly apocalyptic attack in Resident Evil 5— who are kidnapped and transported to a prison located on a remote island. Their arc players gain control of Barry and meet Natalia, retreading the same ground as they search for the missing girls. With allusions to Kafka and a mysterious female antagonist who is said to be another familiar face from the series, as yet undisclosed, this first episode does a well enough job catching us up with the old faces while showing us the new, and getting us invested in the story. The plot’s shape can be seen, and the questions raised are compelling enough, as the end of the episode leaves a cliffhanger that changes things immensely.
Fitting as the first episode in a four part weekly series, this entry takes things slow, acquainting players with controls that are now standard in the series, and showing a welcome return to horror. As though the jump scares are expected and for the most part nothing novel, there is a palpable tension as the girls explore the dark, defunct prison with the only reliable light— a flashlight. Capcom shows that they are still quite capable of atmospheric horror, the true measure of fear, and the hesitation to turn a corner in fear of an Afflicted enemy waiting in ambush is a welcome return to form. The combat is fluid and appropriately challenging when necessary, but in this episode there is either feast or famine in regards to enemies. This adds to the tension, but also takes away from the pacing, as eventually the rhythm is understood and the player feels more comfortable, if not completely safe, while completing puzzles and exploring.
What is most exciting about the gameplay is the split between the two parties. Claire is the muscle with the guns, whereas Moira has her flashlight and a crowbar. The ability to switch between the two in single player adds variety for the player, and in addition co-op returns to allow for simultaneous play. Indeed, the two character staple works well in this instance, and when switching to Barry and Natalia he fills a similar role of brute force whereas the girl can sneak into inaccessible places, and point out enemies, armed only with a brick. There is a well-rounded set of skills in this approach, allowing players to experience different challenges even when retreading the same areas. Which is also a cool addition, as even though you are in the same prison, the experience is notably different. Skill and weapon upgrades return, allowing players even more control over how they play. Capcom has smartly crafted a recipe for success with this decision, and as the episodes go on the formula should hopefully stick.
Graphically, the game is smooth and crisp. The darkness of the prison and surrounding woods is an entity in its own, and the way light plays into it both with Moira and Barry’s flashlight and natural light create some truly atmospheric moments. Turning the corner and illuminating a rusty, bloody gurney or running through a forest of immovable trees pursued by enemies each showcase the immersive quality of the setting. Given the structure of the game Capcom should have no shortage of new environments to try out as the story progresses, and hopefully continue to elucidate a fear of the unknown that marks the series so well. There is a sense of familiarity with logic puzzles as well as cheesy one liners, and callbacks to previous games in the series. Yet, the story also continues the heavy theme of bioterrorism, and the psychological damage of kidnapping the girls, maintaining a dramatic hold over the player.
Overall, this entry is a good start to the series. The story is captivating enough to return to next week, and the gameplay is entertaining and familiar enough to meet expectations. The sense of horror returns in a good way, and the episodic format seems to fit this narrative well. As of right now, Capcom has grabbed our attention. Now, they have to follow through.
Overall Rating: 8/10