Like the transformative T-Virus the series is renowned for, Resident Evil is a franchise that has morphed and evolved itself into a plethora of distinct forms since its embryonic birth 21 years ago. From Resident Evil’s original survival-horror origins on the original PlayStation, to Shinji Mikami’s more action-orientated classic third-person shooter Resident Evil 4, to this year’s balls-to-the-wall first-person VR shock-’em-up Resident Evil 7; Capcom’s venerable horror series has never been one to rest on its laurels and shy away from trying new things.
With all that said, however, this newfangled Resident Evil Revelations Collection for the Nintendo Switch is an example of Capcom playing it somewhat safe, though, I don’t mean that necessarily as a bad thing. Essentially, this is a timely re-release of a rock solid combo of old-school survival-horror and blockbuster third-person action, and I’m glad to report that it fits wonderfully on the Switch’s burgeoning library. Packaging together a duo of meaty fully fledged titles – Resident Evil Revelations and Resident Evil Revelations 2 – this new caboodle of content is a must-have compilation for any horror enthusiasts out there who missed out on the game’s original outings, and it all comes sporting a modest price point of $40 as well.
Released initially as a 3DS exclusive back in 2012 (and later migrating to PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360 and PC) Resident Evil Revelations slots in neatly between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5’s respective timelines. The overall plot follows various BSAA agents (including fan favorites Claire Redfield, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine from previous installments in the franchise) as they battle a nefarious terrorist organisation, dubbed Veltro, who threaten to infect Earth’s oceans with a dangerous new pathogen, referred to in-game as the T-Abyss virus. Though the story is a little hackneyed at times, the game’s atmosphere and ambiance is terrific.
The majority of Resident Evil Revelations takes place aboard the creepy, abandoned environments of a large cruise liner: The Queen Zenobia. It’s a fantastically memorable setting for a horror game, with windswept bulwarks, claustrophobic hallways and submerged cabins giving way to some marvelously hair-raising edge-of-your-seat action. The pacing is spot on, too, and though the dialogue and narrative often airs a little too closely to its schmaltzy and hammy B-movie inspirations (“Me and my sweet ass are on their way!” shouts Jessica Sherawat early on, in some eye-rolling bants), there’s a surprising amount of heart to be found beating between its putrescent rib cage, along with some neat twists, to boot. In all, I enjoyed Resident Evil Revelations’ narrative a lot more than I thought I was going to.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 on the other hand (which released in 2015 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC and a little later for the PS Vita) acts as a sequel to the first Revelations, as well as a prequel to the critically maligned Resident Evil 6. Iconic franchise staple Claire Redfield returns and this time around we find her working as a prominent member for a humanitarian organisation known as Terra Save. Things quickly escalate as she’s promptly kidnapped and dumped onto an isolated, remote island brimming with nasty abominations known as the Afflicted. Further still, she must contend with a bunch of mysterious masked assailants who pull the strings from behind the scenes, seemingly attempting to “test” Claire for reasons unbeknownst to her. That ol’ chestnut, I guess.
Claire’s not alone, however, as Barry Burton’s daughter Moira tags along for the ride, too. Much like the first Revelations, the protagonist’s viewpoints change often, which not only keeps things fresh, but really helps to give the story and gameplay a welcome tempo change of contrasting rhythmic tones and cadence. Both titles employ a co-op style setup (akin to Resident Evil 5) so you’re rarely ever alone. Revelations 2 even takes this concept a step further, allowing players to switch roles on the fly, which is a pretty well executed idea that works surprisingly effectively. For the most part, Revelations 2‘s narrative is solid fan-service that builds upon the franchise’s mythos without toppling it over like a Licker playing Jenga.
At times, you’ll be battling throngs of terrifying monsters, in an action-focused fight for survival, while another character may be busy exploring the opposite side of the island in a more atmospheric and deliberate puzzle-focused survival-horror fashion. Basically, these disparate gameplay styles help to placate old and new fans of the franchise — in some ways, Capcom are attempting to have their cake and eat it, as the combination of these two distinct play-styles together cover both old-school and more modern palates. And thankfully, it works well.
Though both titles in this collection may not be the most creative experiences Capcom has crafted, they are lean, lithe and refined action-horror adventures that straddle the line between the company’s survival-horror past and more action-orientated present, to a mostly successful degree.
Apart from the customary cheese-ball writing – which, if you’ve played any of the Resident Evil games preceding VII, you’ll be pretty much acclimatized to – along with some occasionally antiquated partner AI and noticeably lengthy load times in Revelations 2, this is a polished collection that runs well, while looking crisp and visually impressive. Performance-wise, both titles feel like they fluctuate between an admirable 30-60 FPS (a locked 30 FPS would be preferable and is something I hope Capcom look to patch in as an option at a later time).
Additionally, both instalments sport first-rate lighting effects, sharp looking textures, realistic character models, fluid animations and zero screen tearing. Audio design is spot on, too, with bombastic theme music accompanying each title’s mock TV-style episodic format. There’s also a few classic nods to the traditional sound design from older Resident Evils folded into the mix, like the eerie tremor-like boom when you pick up a key item, for example. In all, the presentation is definitely up to snuff as both titles look and feel like very good ports.
Onto the Switch-exclusive features, then, and honestly, things are rather workmanlike in this area. Optional motion controls have been implemented and they’re fairly decent, but nothing to write home about (they’re very similar to Resident Evil 4’s Wii motion controls). There’s also the multitude of extra DLC included in the package, as well as a couple of exclusive 8-bit style mini games thrown in for good measure.
What truly stands out as the stars of the package, though, are the Raid modes that feel just as wondrously habit-forming as they were when they first released. These challenging and immensely satisfying battle simulators are super addictive short bursts of third-person action gameplay, which sees you fending off monsters across a variety of maps cobbled together from the main campaigns.
All the ingredients for a moreish gameplay experience are here; you select a character, level them up, acquire new loot, unlock new perks and upgrade your weaponry. There’s a tremendous amount of bang for your buck here, and these Raid modes alone can easily steal a few dozen hours for those hankering for some fun and accessible horror-action. With a ton of rewarding in-game carrots thrown in to keep you hooked, this is a deep well of content that’ll keep you coming back. Furthermore, you can even play these modes online with a friend – either way, it’s a blast to play.
Overall, the Resident Evil Revelations Collection is chock-full with high-quality horror-action that placates old and new fans alike with its clever implementation of traditional and modern mechanics. Both games likely won’t go down in history as flawless masterpieces – unlike a couple of its forebears – however, as a package, this is an irresistible combo of terror for those who fancy some on the go blockbuster horror.
“Me and my sweet ass are on their way!” shouts Jessica in Revelations. I suggest horror-loving Switch owners follow suit.
This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game, which was provided to us by Capcom.