Resident Evil: Revelations 2: Episode 1: Penal Colony

Reviews Xbox One Reviews

Despite mounting evidence that only Telltale Games can pull of episodic releases, Capcom are giving the format a try with Resident Evil Revelations 2 and thanks to a tight and fast release schedule and cliff-hanger storytelling, this just might work, especially considering how terrify this first episode is.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 so far shows no ties to its spin-off predecessor, feeling like a self-contained title. The focus is on Claire Redfield from Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica fame, and Moira Burton, as they and their colleagues from bio-terrorism prevention organisation, Terra Save, are kidnapped and placed on a mysterious prison island. After waking in a cell on the penal colony, Claire and Moira team up to escape and survive the zombie-esque monstrosities that hunger for their flesh. Meanwhile, the pair are being watched and taunted by an unseen woman, communicating with them via devices attached to their wrists.

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It’s an intriguing location and scenario to explore. Documents strewn across the prison hint at experimentation and the Uraboros parasite, tying it in with the larger Resident Evil universe nicely, and the location offers a pleasantly different environment to explore. Additionally, the story-telling is well paced and constructed to fit the episodic structure brilliantly, offering you an hour’s worth of tense combat and exploration with a sprinkling of story beats. The original Resident Evil’s Barry Burton and a mysterious little girl, Natalia, found on the island, then offers up another hour of the same but with a significantly different personality and perspective as he aggressively searches for Claire and his daughter 6 months after they went missing.

Most strikingly is how different each character is to play as, and how different the challenges are for them to overcome. Claire’s and Moira’s adventure is more desperate as they struggle with limited ammo and weapons, meanwhile, Barry and Natalia have a more powerful arsenal but more aggressive, stronger, and numerous enemies. Additionally the teamwork between the two pairs is very different. Moira aids Claire by holding the flashlight and wielding a crowbar for opening certain doors and crates, as well as caving in enemy skulls. Natalia on the other hand uses bricks and is far less involved with combat but can squeeze through small gaps to open doors and solve puzzles as well as being able to use an ability to see enemies through walls. It’s a wonderfully different experience for each pair, even though you explore large sections of the same area.

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When playing solo you can, and occasionally must, switch between the two characters to solve puzzles and help with combat. The AI, however, has a tendency to be ineffective in a fight, bringing another player along instead is much preferred, which you can do with local coop. Certainly Moira and Natalia feel far less involved and effective than Claire and Barry, neither using projectile weapons, but the more passive play-style is a refreshing role to fulfil.

Wonderfully the very best enhancements to the Resident Evil formula are present here as well as a few new ones. You can move and shoot, dodge incoming attacks, use analogue movement between walking and running as well as another button for sprint, you have full control of the camera, and best of all you can use herbs on the move outside of the inventory screen.  Add to that herbs stacking as single items and the combination of herbs adding numbers to the stack rather than creating different level of healing, and it all comes together to offer some of the best mechanics yet seen in the series.

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There’s plenty more than just the story to keep you playing this first episode. A time trail mode unlocks which challenges you to complete the episode below par, meanwhile, another mode makes all the enemies invisible and challenges you to complete it. Finally there’s the Raid mode, a returning feature from the first Revelations which pits you against waves of enemies in a selection of different locations, including some from Resident Evil 6. New weapons and upgrades can be found, as well as enhanced ammo and enemy types to make encounters more interesting. There are also time trails and restricted ammo challenges on offer, and all of these can be enjoyed with a friend in local coop.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 makes a great first impression. Series fans will get a kick out of the returning characters, self-aware referential humour and continuation of the absurd Resident Evil lore, meanwhile, the fast paced storytelling, refreshing location and character variety, as well as the expertly implemented controls and mechanics, work in everyone’s favour. Role on next week and episode 2.

Thanks to Capcom for supplying TiX with a download code

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Some say Greg isn’t one person but a group of many people posting under the pseudonym “Greg”. No one knows for sure but either way, as long as he continues to fight the good fight of reviewing games, then we will always consider him a hero.