I didn’t grow up with Resident Evil. 

While many of my teenage friends were blasting through the gut-squelching horrors of the first game, I was more likely to be absorbing apples as an innocent bandicoot known as Crash. When the original Resident Evil Revelations was released though, I was ready to dive in with a more mature mindset to boot and years of gaming experiences behind me. I loved it. The atmospheric, derelict ghost ship I wandered filled me with intrigue, suspense and constant terror – all wrapped up in a package presented episodically. I always thought of Resident Evil as an onslaught of zombie infused mayhem, but instead it was an exploration of an environment that was a character within itself. As I peeled away the layers of this grotesquely crafted world, I fell more in love with the franchise. Then Resident Evil Revelations 2 came to fruition and stole my heart, guts and brain.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 1

Much like the original iteration, Revelations 2 was presented in the same vein as a TV serial – extensive episodes that provided a continuing overarching narrative. The charm of this aspect was enhanced by the game’s daring release schedule. Instead of allowing players to experience the whole story in one consistent playthrough, it was instead broken into weekly instalments, slowly drip feeding players more gory, cathartic thrills, and a further expansion to the narrative. Much like games such as Life is Strange and Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Revelations released its episodes over a space of time. Instead of in months like games of the same ilk, this was dropped on a weekly schedule, creating a real sense of a playable television programme. 

This charm is a large contributor to what makes Revelations 2 so great. The month period that the four episodes were released over was met with anticipation and fan theories as players gathered to collect their own thoughts of where the story was heading. It’s entirely possible to play through the entire story now in one sitting, but the true charm of Resident Evil Revelations 2 lays in its attempts to try something new.

Outside of its superbly placed release window, there was also a damn fine continuation of the framework Resident Evil Revelations founded. At this point, the franchise had gone somewhat off the rails and into summer blockbuster territory – aiming to be bigger and better, but ultimately sacrificing its soul. While Revelations 2 indeed went bigger by providing a new environment in the form of an island to explore, it still retained the spirit of its predecessor by being a haunting and tense horror-survival game.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 2

The story follows franchise veteran Claire Redfield and a host of other characters – some familiar and some new – as they are captured and placed on an island of nightmares. The story goes off the rails and explodes with guts and gore till the screen is drenched in the blood of your kills. But it maintains the intimate approach that entries such as Resident Evil 5 and 6 lost in exchange for more blockbuster action. What holds true throughout the whole venture in the horrific depths of this island, however, is the theme of fear. Each victim to this mysterious island is fitted with a bracelet. Said bracelet detects the fear within them, and when the levels go too high the victim will succumb to a deadly virus coursing through their veins and cause them to become a hellish monster. It all works as an analogy of fighting fear and past traumas that the characters possess. It singles out the weak from the strong and becomes a gauntlet of internal battles as well as hordes of flesh eating zombies.

At its core, this is Resident Evil returning to its roots. As well as stripping the player of a wealth of guns and placing them in stressful situations where every bullet counts, Revelations 2 even goes one step further by providing sections that enhance the feeling of vulnerability by providing you no means of defending yourself. These are some of the strongest sections in the game and provide the best moments of horror as you’re forced to sneak past any entity that’s drooling for your flesh. The series is known for its excellent level design, from the decrepit mansion that haunts the woods in the first instalment, to the police station and surrounding areas of Raccoon City that was expanded in its sequel. Revelations 2 embraces this tradition and, while it’s a more linear experience, it still provides the excellent level design the series is known for.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 3

Those who loved the change of direction for the series with more action-oriented gameplay will find a lot to love in Raid mode. This extension provides a horde mode which allows players to let loose with the combat mechanics and fight waves and waves of infected for a chance to be present on the leaderboard. This also utilised the weekly release schedule in fascinating ways, as each week new elements were added and players constantly attempted to one-up each other for a chance of being the big shot. It satisfied the cravings of those who wanted more and provided a taste of what was to come in the next instalment.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 was a fascinating experiment with the episodic structure of games that was popular at the time. This worked to its advantage and tantalising ‘next time’ snippets sparked a community of players to carefully dissect and digest each episode’s contents for a hint at where the journey was taking them. Stepping back and embracing what made the Resident Evil franchise so popular back in the day was a strong move and one that would later provide a catalyst for the incredible Resident Evil 7. But Revelations 2 was a solid game in its own right, with its own identity and a beautiful mutation of what made the first interaction so great. Scary, tense and intriguing – it is an excellent example of horror gameplay and engaging storytelling.

If you wish to pick up Resident Evil Revelations 2 then you should head to the Xbox Store immediately.

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