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Resident Evil Revelations – The Switch Island Review

It was Halloween this year on a dark and stormy night (it wasn’t) and I was flicking through the eShop for some suitably freaky experiences. Sensing my need (probably peering in the window), Capcom provided hefty discounts on both of their eShop Resident Evil games, Revelations 1 & 2. I didn’t know much about them, except that they were originally released on the 3DS and have since been remastered and ported to a few platforms. When they first landed on the eShop, it felt like this was part of Capcom’s test of the system; would they sell? They’ve since done very well, with the pair selling over 500k copies, which has probably nudged Capcom towards bringing Res Evil 0, 1 and 4 to the Switch in 2019. It can’t have hurt. 

Itching to shoot some zombies, I bought both Revelations digitally (it’s also possible to buy them as a physical twosome). Initially I was shocked at the massive file sizes of both games, with the first coming in at just shy of 13gbs and the second a whopping 25.3gbs. With the limited size of my SD card at the time, I had to do some archiving to get them installed. That’ll be those FMVs then. So, be careful if you’re running low on space or have limited internet data.

My second surprise came from just how good the menu and opening sequence looked. For some reason, I was expecting to see a 3DS game, but instead it looked more like a port from the PS3, which I guess it could be as they’d already moved it there! It’s clearly an old game, but it looks very good on the Switch. The creatures and environments are suitably detailed for the required creeps and thrills.  

The story starts with you playing as one of two operatives who are searching a mysterious ship for a colleague. If you’ve played a Resident Evil game before you’ll be familiar with the set-up. There’s some convoluted conspiracy and a biological outbreak that’s caused a raft of excitingly shootable mutations. I’m not one for paying attention to these sorts of stories, but it seemed to do a fairly good job at providing character motivation and intrigue. There’s a big futuristic city laid to waste by a terrorist group and different government organisations brought in to fix it all.  Some of dialogue is better than others. At one point a character says, “I think it’s some sort of room” to describe to their colleague that they’re in a room. You will not confuse this with HBO’s The Wire.

A cruise ship is a good setting for a survival horror. There are tight corners, confined spaces, limited options for escape, and the threat of water. The game moves from chapter to chapter through a series of action or exploration set-pieces, with light (very light) puzzle solving. You are encouraged to manage your resources (ammo, health herbs etc) carefully, and most importantly stay alive and complete your objectives. It does feel odd to walk around a cruise ship and find ammo and herbs just lying around everywhere, but that’s old games for you.

The game switches you between different playable characters. This seemed to be for the sake of the story more than anything else and it didn’t really gel with me. I’d prefer to stick to one character. On the other hand, it does increase the variety of environments and dialogue. You also spend a lot of the game playing as part of a duo, which again is great for dialogue and story, but not so great for fear: it’s always scarier when you’re alone. There are some novel uses for the duos though, such as having to support an injured teammate as you navigate the ship and fight zombies. Overall though I would say the addition of a teammate doesn’t add as much as it takes away.

I was looking for a game that would let me shoot zombies and other monstrosities, and this certainly did that for me. But it’s a bit of a mish-mash of ideas that aren’t all successful, some of which I’ve mentioned already. Another example is that you have a scanning tool like in Metroid Prime, which you can use for scanning enemies for information or finding hidden items. It’s fun to use, but it feels under-utilised. 

On the whole, Revelations isn’t a bad game. It’s very much a Resident Evil, and at least it has a competent story, some good set-pieces and some fun zombie blasting action. It just feels good rather than very good. I would definitely recommend it but if you’ve played more recent survival horror games then I expect there have been some significant augmentations (I would hope!). However it is remarkable that it started out on the 3DS. Plus, it can be bought for a bargain during Halloween. And I’ve still got the second one to play, if I can find the space to install it. 

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