After Resident Evil 6’s polarizing critical reception, it was clear that Capcom’s inability to implement the series’ trademark sense of foreboding terror, and nail-biting tension into a more modernized formula was drastically hurting the future of the franchise. Thankfully, the surprisingly well-received debut of Resident Evil: Revelations changed all that. By successfully combining contemporary gameplay mechanics with white-knuckle action and old-school survival horror elements, Resident Evil: Revelations finally presented fans with a thoroughly engaging experience they could really sink their teeth into. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 continues that same clear-cut vision nearly two years later, fully embracing the subtitled series’ episodic narrative structure, and infusing it with more visceral gameplay and punishing enemy encounters for a satisfying take on modern survival horror.
Set neatly between the events of Resident Evil 5 and 6, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 recounts the harrowing perils fan-favorites Claire Redfield and Barry Burton face while on a secluded, monster-plagued island controlled by the mysterious Overseer. The four-part storyline is dissected into two distinct chapters; one details Claire and newcomer Moira Burton’s dangerous journey to uncover the truth behind their imprisonment on the island, while the other follows Barry and Natalia Korda, his enigmatic child companion, as they attempt to rescue the distressed heroines months afterword.
There’s a precise rhythm to this time-hopping story structure that prevents Revelations 2 from transforming into an incoherent mess. For starters, bouncing between Resident Evil’s mainstay characters works as an excellent narrative device, seamlessly allowing players to piece together the mystery surrounding the Overseer’s true identity, and discover who’s behind the island’s sadistic experiments from different angles. Experiencing Barry and Claire’s parallel-running storylines back-to-back never felt confusing or unnecessarily padded, and the opportunity to uncover Moira and Natalia’s secrets along the way always proved to be an intriguing proposition. As a result, the entire twelve-hour-long adventure unfolds in a surprisingly satisfying manner; gasp-inducing plot twists, nail-biting cliffhangers, and relatively balanced narrative pacing all contribute to the success of the game’s fan-pleasing story.
The character-switching concept in Revelations 2 might inject some comforting predictability into the storyline, but it does come with one major drawback: setting repetition. Throughout the course of Claire and Moira’s episodic campaigns, you’ll explore a laundry list of creepy environments including dissipated detention facilities, gore-soaked meat factories, and haunting forests (to name a few). These generic horror locations aren’t exceptionally memorable or unique from the get-go, but having to retread familiar territory during Barry’s rescue expedition gets old quick – even with the implementation of new routes and different enemy encounters to spice things up. Add in the fact that Revelations 2’s visuals slightly lack the graphical fidelity of other new-generation titles, and journeying through these repeated, uninspired locales may seem more like a test in patience than anything else. Luckily, we didn’t have much time to soak in the bland environments; the game was too busy siccing hordes of grotesque abominations on us to give out any scenic tours of its levels.
You might have to thwart off the murderous appetite of hideously mutated humans and slow-shambling horrors at a moment’s notice, but at least Revelations 2 gives you a fighting chance. Step into the weapon-wielding slacks of Barry or Claire, and you’ll gain the opportunity to execute blood-splattering headshots utilizing the noteworthy precision of the game’s gunplay – which has noticeably improved since the original Revelations. Switching to support characters Moira or Natalia (depending on the campaign you’re playing) is also possible, but since neither of them operate firearms you’ll have to make good use of their unique abilities instead. Moira can utilize her flashlight’s powerful beam to temporarily blind enemies or bludgeon them with her trusty crowbar, while Natalia possesses the tactical advantages of seeing invisible enemies and sensing foes through walls, and can wield bricks for protection. You’ll have to combine both the lead and support characters’ distinct abilities in order to stay alive, but at least it feels remarkably gratifying to do so. Personally, our favorite death-dealing combo focused on stringing together Moira’s stun ability with Claire’s melee kick to bring enemies down, only to eliminate them outright with Moira’s crowbar finishing move mere seconds later.
Revelations 2 presents you with many potential combat strategies to use from the start, but you can expand your repertoire of skills by using in-game currency to purchase more. We nabbed the ability to perform follow-up melee attacks with Claire and Barry early-on, which opened up more enemy-slaying options for us to experiment with. Investing in evasive maneuvering and health-based skills (like Quick Heal and Medical Knowledge) also made us a more formidable opponent during our time with the game as well. You won’t be able to upgrade all of the game’s available skills on your first playthrough – we barely unlocked half of them, so it’s incredibly important to determine what your preferred playstyle is and go from there. If you enjoy avoiding conflict and eliminating foes with stealth kills, we suggest acquiring and increasing Crouch Advantage in order to gain some brief invisibility while crouching. If you’re more fond of going into enemy hordes guns blazing, then perhaps maxing out Rope-a-dope to withstand the killing blows of more fearsome monstrosities is a smart choice for you.
If facing Revelations 2’s psychotic creatures proves to be too much for you in single-player, you can always have a friend join in on the action via split-screen cooperative play. However, we must warn you that the lopsidedness of the game’s combat system shines through tenfold with this particular option. You see in single-player, switching between both Claire and Moira, for example, gave you unlimited access to the best of both worlds: combat prowess and tactical advantages. Playing local co-op limits you to just one role, and if you’re the unfortunate one controlling vulnerable characters like Moira or Natalia, then expect to feel unfulfilled and rather useless at times. We’re not necessarily saying that laughing at the B-movie-esque dialogue, sharing nostalgic experiences (like Barry’s creature-infested trip through an eerie mansion), and battling swarms of nightmarish foes together wasn’t enjoyable in its own right – it did have its moments. During certain scenarios it was actually a godsend having an intelligent companion by our side to help with crowd control and puzzle solutions, especially given how moronic and unhelpful our AI-controlled partner was during solo play. In the grand scheme of things though, we could see where the campaign mode might be best experienced alone. At least then you won’t have to beat your couch buddy to death over who controls Barry or Claire.
As it turns out, Revelations 2 offers a far more engaging and fleshed-out cooperative option called Raid mode for those craving some trigger-happy action. First exhibited in the original Revelations, Raid mode tasks you with running and gunning through enemy-filled levels, and collecting more powerful guns and weapon upgrades along the way. Completing stages and earning medals from achieving certain objectives (like clearing the map of all enemies) increases your chosen character’s experience level, and also unlocks new characters and skills to utilize as well. There’s an overwhelming amount of content implemented into Raid mode in general, and we wholeheartedly enjoyed its focus on adrenaline-pumping action and good old-fashioned fun. To the delight of fans, this minigame also features a near-endless sense of replayability thanks to the incorporation of daily challenges and multiple stage difficulties you can conquer at your leisure. While we were quite disappointed that online multiplayer functionality wasn’t present during our time with the game, Raid mode still kept us entertained for hours and hours on end regardless.
Despite there being room for improvement, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 injects some self-assuring confidence and clear-headed focus into a series that has been directionless and unsure of itself for years. Its combination of action-orientated gameplay and light horror elements delivers a satisfying experience that genuinely feels secure enough to stick to its initial vision throughout the course of the game. While nothing in Revelations 2 is remarkably new, it was refreshing to see Capcom experiment with the original’s tried-and-true formula, and at least take risks and test out new concepts with this particular entry. We’re expecting some die-hard Resident Evil purists to steer clear of Revelations 2 like its a shambling, flesh-eating corpse. However, our more open-minded readers would be doing themselves a disservice if they missed out on this adrenaline rush of mutant-slaughtering goodness.