Resident Evil Revelations 1 and 2 Switch review – portable horrors

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Game review: Resident Evil Revelations 1 and 2 come to Nintendo Switch
Resident Evil Revelations (NS) – the Switch’s first Resi

Both Revelations games arrive on Nintendo Switch, but are they still worth picking up in a post-Resident Evil 7 world?

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We’re sure someone must keep track of what game has appeared on the greatest number of different formats, but in recent years the winner must surely be Resident Evil Revelations. Which is ironic given it started life in 2012 as a 3DS exclusive. Since then it’s been ported onto every possible console, and PC, from the Xbox 360 to the PlayStation 4. And now it and its sequel are on Switch, and they’re just as much fun as ever.

We had expected to be reviewing a collection containing both games, but although America and Japan are getting one there is no physical version of either game being released in Europe. That’s partly because the sequel is huge and doesn’t fit on the cart, and presumably also because Capcom don’t think it will sell that much.

Other than some entirely optional motion controls these are almost exactly the same games as they’ve always been, although Resident Evil Revelations 2’s split-screen co-op does have the benefit that you can use just one Joy-Con each to control it. There’s also now amiibo support and some cute little 8-bit mini-games. The visual quality is impressively close to the current gen versions, with the only knocks being the 30fps frame rate (which is fine for a survival horror like this) and some long load times.

Resident Evil Revelations

Resident Evil Revelations (NS) - no zombies but plenty of cheesy dialogue
Resident Evil Revelations (NS) – no zombies but plenty of cheesy dialogue

Given how many times the games have been released perhaps it’s just as well that they’re only available separately, as it’s much more likely you’ll own the first one than the second. To this day it’s one of the most technically advanced games on the 3DS, and has always scaled up impressively well on home consoles. It also has the same director as Resident Evil 7, and we’re not at all surprised that Koushi Nakanishi was given the keys to the mainline series given how elegantly Revelations blends old school survival horror elements with a more modern style of combat.

The game is technically a prequel to Resident Evil 5, with an unnecessarily involved story about an island utopia being destroyed during a B.O.W. (bio-organic weapon – there are no actual zombies in the game) terrorist attack. The story is told from a number of perspectives, but the primary one is series regular Jill Valentine and new character Parker – an overweight Spaniard with a highly unconvincing accent.

At the beginning of the game the pair discover a mysterious cruise liner that just so happens to have had the same interior decorator as the Spencer Mansion. There are no real puzzles though, just a range of simple environmental obstacles. Ammo is limited, but still not very rare – and in any case the game is generally pretty easy for a series veteran on Normal mode.

It’s very rare that any compromise is fully satisfying, but Revelations manages to stay on the fence with unerring skill and balance. One too many of the set pieces involves nothing more than being trapped in a room with a lot of monsters, but that’s really our only main gameplay complaint.

Oddly, despite the fact you spend most of the game wandering around with a computer-controlled partner, there is no co-op for the main campaign. The sequel addresses that problem, but there is Raid mode – an online score attack mode similar to Mercenaries. It’s been steadily beefed up since the original release and now has its own levelling system and a vast array of unlockable and customisable weapons, characters, and skill sets.

It seems bizarre that only a few months after Revelations was originally released Capcom unleashed Resident Evil 6 on the world but this was always the better game. It’s certainly not a perfect one, but it’s still worth playing even now.

In Short: A superior Resident Evil spin-off that manages to mix old school horror and more modern combat better than almost any other entry in the series.

Pros: Solid controls, lengthy campaign, and a good balance between new and old gameplay elements. Graphics stand up well and co-op Raid mode is a lot of fun.

Cons: Combat lacks nuance and computer-controlled partners are a detriment to both the atmosphere and the rudimentary storytelling.

Score: 7/10

Formats: Nintendo Switch
Price: £15.99
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: 28th November 2017
Age Rating: 16

Resident Evil Revelations 2

Resident Evil Revelations 2 (NS) Barry is back
Resident Evil Revelations 2 (NS) – Barry is back

Although we think most people are at least dimly aware of the first Revelations, the 2015 sequel seemed to be forgotten almost the moment it was released. It didn’t help that, like the first game, it was released in unusual circumstances. Although in this case a strange episodic schedule that saw each chapter come out so quickly it ended up undermining both the digital and retail versions. Somehow it also managed to come out on every format under the sun except the 3DS, or any other Nintendo format.

Revelations 2 is an unusually ambitious sequel, that has relatively little to do with the original in terms of either story or gameplay. It’s still a third person survival horror, but the main connection is that you control two sets of two characters – who this time can be controlled by a player each via split-screen. There’s no online co-op, but on the Switch that’s much less of a problem than with other formats.

The first set of characters are series regular Claire Redfield and Barry Burton’s daughter Moira, who are trying to escape from an Alcatraz-like prison and laboratory complex. The other has you controlling Barry himself, as he attempts to rescue them. Barry immediately runs into a mysterious young girl called Natalia, but neither she nor Moira are any use in combat; which sets up an interesting dynamic where they work as support characters for the two combat veterans.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 (NS) - split-screen horror, in a good way
Resident Evil Revelations 2 (NS) – split-screen horror, in a good way

This creates a very different style of co-op to Resident Evil 5 and 6, and one much better suited to survival horror scares – not to mention less experienced players who might be less comfortable with third person shooting. If you’re playing on your own, swapping between characters when necessary, it’s really not as much fun, but get a partner that’s willing to play the game properly and this is still one of the best examples of asymmetric co-op we’ve ever played.

For example, there’s one particularly good sequence where Barry is confronted with an invisible enemy. Natalia can sense people through walls, whether visible or not, and so you end up with one player shouting out advice as the other desperately tries to follow their instructions and defeat the monster. Meanwhile, the environments for the other pair are often very dark, and as Moira is the only one with a torch her help in combat is vital without ever firing a shot.

The idea that people only turn into zombies when they get scared is also an appropriately shlocky B-movie concept, in a game that consistently makes more effort than its low budget, and low profile, would seem to require. That said, the boss battles are almost uniformly disappointing and the art design in general rather less imaginative than previous Resident Evils. But it does feature an expanded version of Raid mode, which work both online and split-screen and is just as diverting as before.

As a full price game we can see why Revelations 2 struggled, but at £20, on a console well-suited to co-op play, it’s something close to a must-have. Resident Evil 7 has already saved the mainline series from decline, but it wouldn’t have done so without the success of the first Revelations. And after playing these two games again we’d be very happy to see a third entry in Resident Evil’s most underrated spin-off series.

In Short: A mostly successful mix of the best of classic and modern era Resident Evil, with some of the most enjoyably unique co-op options of any recent game.

Pros: Excellent asymmetric co-op, and a good blend of survival horror, third person action, and cheesy dialogue. Raid mode is great and more than just a throwaway bonus.

Cons: No online option for campaign co-op is still disappointing. Low tech visuals and less inventive art design than usual. Not as much fun on your own and long load times.

Score: 8/10

Formats: Nintendo Switch
Price: £19.99
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: 28th November 2017
Age Rating: 18

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