Three episodes in and Resident Evil Revelations 2 is finally coming into its own. With the action-heavy set-pieces of episode two behind us, this week’s episode, Judgement, provides us with a larger focus on puzzle solving and inventory management in face of deadly enemies.
As with the previous two episodes, Judgement is once again split into two sections; one each for Claire and Barry. Claire’s section this week is a huge step forward in regards to personal enjoyment when compared to last week , which was a relative stinker to say the least. Gone are the endless waves of enemies and set-pieces that strive to create an uneven balance between Revelations 2’s desire to be both an action-heavy game and a survival horror game. In their place we find a more atmospheric setting that’s both moody, and suspenseful. And puzzles, classic Resident Evil-type puzzles.
The opening moments of this week’s episode once again finds Claire and Moira at a dead end in their investigation of the island. So what do they do? Follow a paperthin lead into a creepy industrial park (because nothing bad has ever happened in one of those)! Despite the two girl’s questionable judgement (see what I did there?), this sets the scene for what is arguably the game’s best environment since the first episode’s abandoned prison. Darken hallways with long, deep shadows; Blood soaked walls with busted, mangled industrial equipment hanging from the ceilings and walls; Creepy enemies that appear randomly from bathroom stalls; It’s all here, and it’s all good.
Revelations 2’s third episode also brings back the classic Resident Evil-style puzzle; the old switcheroo death-trap room. Shortly after beginning Claire’s section I ran into one of these types of rooms, and after quickly realising what I had to do, I began investigating the rest of the building for the object I needed to solve the puzzle. Well, I didn’t have to go very far until I found what I was looking for. In a darkened room closeby was the object of my search, only it was protected by lasers, and only by using Moira’s flashlight to reveal blue footprints on the ground could I obtain it.
”Damnit, Moira” I thought as I begrudgingly switched to her. Revelations 2’s strong-armed requirement that I, as a solo player, constantly jump between Claire and Moira (or Barry and Natalia) has been a thorn in my side since I first started playing the game two weeks ago . While Revelations 2 very well might have been designed with two players working together in mind, the reality is majority of those who play it will be doing so solo, therefore it becomes somewhat of a red mark against the game when it insists a solo player jump between two different characters for such trivial things; i.e. navigating one particular room, or the always-present shining the flashlight on, or pointing at a glimmering object to make it pickupable.
But this week’s episode reveals a much more cumbersome and annoying reason for those of us playing solo to constantly character-switch. Roughly mid-way through Claire’s section, and the beginning of Barry’s, Revelations 2 presents us with environment puzzles, or indeed obstacles, the player must overcome by utilising both characters together. For example, and this in the case of while playing as Claire, you’ll find yourself in a burning factory with a countdown timer, meaning you better move quick smart through the flames unless you want to be thrown back to a previous checkpoint. Sounds reasonable, right? Only Revelations 2 wants you to switch between Claire and Moira, each having to activate a valve which stows the flames in the path of the other. You literally cannot proceed through this section without jumping between these two.
In any other game designed for co-op where there’s no second player, a pre-programmed A.I would probably kick in and help you out. But oh no, Revelations 2 doesn’t want to do that; instead it wants those playing solo to jump back and forth. A similar set-up is requested of solo players during the opening for Barry’s section, which sees Natalia having to open the way for Barry as the pair move through the sewers. The entire sequence, as well as that featured in Claire’s section, is cumbersome and time-consuming. It feels, at its best, as a way to pad out the game’s length (a strange design choice for something that’s being rolled out in an episodic format), and mares the improvements Revelations 2’s third episode makes over its predecessors.
While Claire and Moira hung out in an industrial park, Barry and Natalia waded through the sewers and spent time kicking about an old mine. While not as creepy or foreboding settings as featured in Claire’s sections, they benefit from carefully placed enemies which made Barry’s section a nerve-racking adventure this time around. Stealth is more greatly encouraged in episode three, with the game putting Barry in front of enemies he can more easily sneak up behind and take out without having to engage. It’s a welcome change of pace from “here’s a room of enemies, please shoot and move on” that made up most of the previous two episodes.
During both Claire and Barry’s respective sections, Revelations 2 throws players up against end-bosses whom prove to be challenging, without being cheap. In Claire’s case, she squares off against a hulking monster who is nothing more than a bullet-sponge, but it adheres to the classic Resident Evil trope of ‘shoot, dodge, repeat’. The baddie Barry faces is a bit more interesting in that it happens in two stages. Though being more or less identical encounters, only differing in location, it’s hair raising in the way that you need to navigate around the enemy when it shields its weak spot. It’s not overly original, but with thanks to the limited number of resources episode three produces, you will need to fight smart against it, using what you have to maximum efficiency.
Resident Evil Revelations 2’s third episode is the first time I think this title has come even close to being a true Resident Evil game. It’s got a moody and atmospheric setting, puzzles we’d expect to see in the Spencer Mansion, and monsters that fit in with the series’ penchant for over-the-top bosses. But I still can’t get past the whole two character design, which continues to bludgeon me over the head at every turn. I really disliked having to switch between Barry and Natalia while moving through the sewers, and I was almost pushed to point where I turned the game off entirely. I would say I hope these types of sections don’t appear in the fourth and final episode, but I’m a realist.
Then again I don’t know what to expect with Revelations 2’s final episode. The first three have all felt a bit different to one another, and I’m unsure whether this is a good thing if, and when people play this title as a whole. I guess we’ll find out next week when I deliver my final review for Resident Evil Revelations 2.