The best word to describe the first episode of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is uninspired. The game rarely plays well and lackluster visuals, boring acting, and awful writing bring the product down to something hardly resembling fun. Revelations often times makes no sense, leaving the player to wonder what developers were thinking with the game’s mechanics and ultimately thankful only when it is all over. It is an ugly game in more ways than one.
Revelation’s first episode, called “Penal Colony,” opens with series veteran Claire Redfield working with Moira Burton, the daughter of Barry Burton from the original Resident Evil, at the human rights organization, TerraSave. The two are kidnapped during an attack on the company’s headquarters by an unknown group and wake up in a dilapidated facility that used to be home to human testing, but now holds secrets much more sinister and undying.
Their only contact with the outside world comes from an unknown woman, who identifies herself as the “Overseer,” who speaks in riddles derived from poems of Franz Kafka and antagonizes the two girls, telling them the worst fear is to come. Claire and Moira must find their way out of this facility in hopes of making contact with someone who can help, all the while trying to decode the Overseer’s riddles and avoiding the undead threats that now roam the halls.
Revelations also features Barry Burton as he traces the whereabouts of his daughter to the same facility. Barry runs into a little girl named Natalia, who has a mysterious background. Natalia claims to have no parents nor recollection of a life outside of the facility. Together they travel through similar locations looking for Claire and Moira, but something is disconnected between the two groups.
The story of Revelations is disjointed, to say the least. The game quickly tries to build up mystery, but lacks the substance to make it interesting. Rather, it feels predictable as the game throws cliché horror tropes at the player such as the mysterious little girl who can sense the undead and a facility that subjects its patients to violent human tests. Cutscenes are few and far between, often leaving the story hanging and taking way too much time to pick back up for answers. By the time the game finally gets around to breaking open the shell of its own story, the episode is over. The game can only hope that following episodes will have a stronger narrative, but this one left me with absolutely no desire to dig deeper into what is going on.
One of the game’s biggest flaws is it’s undeniably awful script. Lines such as, “Because ‘Terr’ doesn’t have to end with ‘rist.’” or “Sh*t on a stick,” are unbelievably used in a game trying to build itself up as a serious survival-horror experience. It’s not helped by the overall boring voice acting the game suffers from. Characters sound tired and unenthused, even in the face of danger. Even if the story featured more depth, it would be hard to get past the monotone performances in this game that sound as if the actors could hardly be bothered to read his or her script. Characters are also inconsistent. Moira spends the entire campaign firing off side remarks in an effort to be the game’s comedic relief, but is then turned on a dime in the last cutscene and shown as nothing but weak and frail, demanding player sympathy. These inconsistencies make it impossible to relate to the characters as you are never entirely sure of their personalities.
Revelations looks considerably dated, even on next-gen platforms. Textures are muddy, character models lack detail, and animations are stiff. Even during the games pre-rendered cutscenes, character faces lack expression, with lips that barely open or make shapes. Environments often look repetitive as a dreary pallet of brown and gray is used over and over throughout the game making it hard to distinguish one room from another. Similarly, enemy models look bland and flat. Zombies look like walking skeletons that shamble at you slowly, and larger enemies seem uninspired and thrown together last-second. The game also suffers from a poor frame rate that often makes gameplay choppy and slow. On the PlayStation 4, Revelations looks worse than most past-gen ports of current-gen games and it just doesn’t make sense that more time wasn’t taken by the developers to make this game look up-to-date with other titles on the market.
Gameplay in Revelations is poor and frustrating. At times, gun play is solid and firing off headshots is simple and satisfying, but it’s not always consistent. I sometimes found myself putting several shots into an enemy’s head before finally bringing them down, only for it to crawl at me once on the floor and requiring another shot to finally kill it. The game’s dodge mechanic is solid and effective, making quick evasions feel precise and exhilarating. But characters become hard to control and feel stiff while sprinting, making it extremely difficult to go around corners while trying to make a quick escape. The game also requires an insane amount of backtracking as you look for a “rusty key” to open a door or a missing solution to a puzzle on the other side of the level. The backtracking quickly becomes boring, as players run back-and-forth through rooms ad nauseam looking for the item needed to progress.
Revelations is built around cooperative gameplay, with all four characters playable. The game allows for local co-op and also solo-mode with an AI partner, giving the player the ability to switch between the two. Unfortunately, the friendly AI in the game is fairly weak. When you play as Claire, Moira will follow behind you at a constant glacial pace. Since she is the one holding the flashlight in an otherwise dark facility, you are often left staring down pitch-black hallways waiting for her to finally play catch-up. Similarly, players will spend a lot of time rescuing the AI as their slow pace often puts them right in the way of danger as the player is trying to run away.
While Claire and Barry use guns to fire through the undead, Moira and Natalia have special abilities, like Natalia’s ability to crawl through small spaces or sense enemies, Moria’s ability to pry open sealed doors with her crowbar, and their shared ability to…point at things. In order to pick up some items, either Moira or Natalia will have to first point at it to make its presence known, then pick it up, and finally they can swap it from their inventory to Barry or Claire’s. When playing solo, this becomes increasingly frustrating as you must manually switch between characters and cycle through inventories in order to pick up the item. Made more frustrating is the fact that you can see the item as Claire or Barry. It’s not even a hidden item, seen only by the other characters. It is a ridiculous mechanic that consistently brings down the pace of gameplay and removes players from the moment.
Even though the game’s shooting mechanic works well enough, for the most part, the rest of the game’s mechanics have poor execution making Revelations a chore to play through. I constantly found myself frustrated at having to cycle through characters or having to slow down once I hit a corner because I couldn’t make the turn while sprinting. I never felt like swapping my characters was important, unless the game forced me to do it. Revelations makes poor choices in gameplay and it suffers as a whole from it. It is not fun to play and I was constantly frustrated during just my three hours with the game. I can’t imagine that the following entries will make any improvements to the gameplay, ultimately making me not want to even bother.
The first episode of Resident Evil: Revelations Two is not off to a good start. It’s an overall weak game that could hardly be recommended to anyone but die-hard fans of the series and maybe not even them. There are still four more episodes to be released, but Penal Colony has set a fairly bad precedent for the title. I never had fun while playing this game. From the time I was given control of a character until the time the credits rolled on this first episode, I never felt motivated to keep playing, except for the sake of this review. Revelations Two is an ugly, boring, and frustrating adventure and I’m just glad it is over.
2 Out Of 5
- Shooting is occasionally solid.
- Poor story, writing, and acting.
- Questionable Mechanics.
- Too much time cycling through characters for trivial reasons.