Review: Resident Evil Revelations 2 - Episode 1 - Rely on Horror

Review: Resident Evil Revelations 2 – Episode 1


Following the successful launch of Resident Evil HD Remaster, Capcom has now released the first episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2, titled “Penal Colony.” After years out of the main spotlight, Claire Redfield makes her long-awaited return with this season premiere, along with another former series star in the form of Barry Burton. So, does this weekly episodic title get off to a good start? Keep reading to find out!

The episode begins with a get-together arranged by anti-bioterrorism group TerraSave, introducing us to Moira Burton while showing her relationship with the returning Claire. Moira sees her as a mentor-figure, and already we could see some nice interplay between both ladies. What isn’t nice, however, is Moira’s relationship with her dad, Barry. We get a taste of that friction in this opening scene. But it isn’t long before things go to hell.

After a scene that plays out a lot like the break-in into William Birkin’s lab in Resident Evil 2, Claire and Moira get captured by an unknown party. This results in a horrible case of deja vu for Ms. Redfield. Once again, she finds herself waking up in a prison cell. And I loved how the awakening was shot similar to the one from CODE: Veronica. I don’t know about you, but something tells me that Claire used to be a convict in her past life. This intro sets off a trip back into the world of survival horror, and I was really pleased by how old-school this felt compared to recent entries in the franchise.

The prison was a horrifying joy to traverse and backtrack through. The graphics may not be amazing, but that doesn’t stop the atmosphere from being superb. That’s the thing about the Revelations sub-series, they give you environments that are perfect for horror. Sure, a prison may not be all that original, but they did a great job with it here, peppering it with light puzzles, item-hunting, and terrifying enemies in the form of the Afflicted. At times, I even got an Outlast vibe from it, especially since now you could utilize stealth.


Out of all the game’s refined mechanics and additions (which we’ll get to in a bit), the stealth was my favorite. It’s nothing complex, but the introduction of such a gameplay mechanic is a very welcome one for the series. The enemies could definitely be bullet sponges, so sneaking up behind them for a one-hit, melee kill definitely is the more appealing route to take when dispatching foes. Crouching also works intuitively and it’s similar to how it works in The Last of Us. The quick dodge also makes a return from Revelations, but now it’s more liberating. You can dodge at any time without having to sync your button presses like in the original. But in my playthrough, it didn’t really help much, which is why I opted for stealth as much as I could. Other new additions worth noting include the ability to use tourniquets and disinfectants. They’re used to stop bleeding and to get rid of the bile covering you, respectively. Both the bleeding and the bile (caused by the Sploders) obstruct your view, adding another potential danger to enemy encounters.

Like in classic Resident Evil games, herbs make a comeback, and combining green ones with a red one multiplies the amount of herbs in your inventory as opposed to just making one stronger, singular herb. The concept of combining also applies to your methods of attack seeing as how you could combine certain items to create sub-weapons; like combining alcohol with a bottle to create a firebomb, or mixing gunpowder with a bottle to create an explosive. All of this gives the game a stronger sense of survival, and allows for different styles of play.

Firearms can once again be upgraded, and this is done in the benches scattered around the environment. You collect parts which then can be used to upgrade elements like firepower, fire rate, or ammo capacity. Your own skills can also be upgraded, like dodging, knifing, and healing. After beating a scenario, you get a letter grade and also skill points which can be used to unlock upgrades for your different abilities. Going back to weapons, Moira is  against the use of guns. A family tragedy has caused this, and it’s definitely something that plays into one of the mysteries in the game. But playing as her is still fun in its own right. Moira is able to use a flashlight which can be aimed at glimmery points around you, revealing hidden goodies like ammo or gems (collected for skill points). Your flashlight can also reveal strange markings on some of the walls, which ties into the story’s influence by The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Lastly, the flashlight can also be used to temporarily blind foes, which then open them up to satisfying melee attacks by Claire, which can then be capped off with a finishing move when they’re laid out on the ground, like Moira impaling them with her crowbar. These tag-team executions are really fun to pull off, as switching between characters is seamless. Offline co-op is also available for those that would like to play it that way.

The story in episode 1 is engaging, thanks in large part to the mystery behind your female captor, who loves to spew poetry through the heart rate monitor bracelets Claire and Moira wear. The dialogue could have its serving of cheese at times, especially when Moira starts throwing out her colorful swears, but it doesn’t take away from how morbid this story feels. Oh, and we get a Claire sandwich moment, followed by a hilarious response from Moira. It seems Barry absolutely loves his classic line and has no problem with finding humor in Jill’s near-death experience (I would love to see a scene where Barry is just casually telling Chris or Leon about it). And speaking of Barry…


Barry’s scenario actually surprised me with how it wasn’t as action-oriented as I feared it being. Since Claire was captured and imprisoned, it makes sense for her to start out without any weapons. Barry, on the other hand, comes into the story already armed, embarking on a mission to find his daughter, without any back-up from his comrades in the BSAA. The only company he has is in the form of Natalia, a little girl he meets upon arriving on the island who possesses special powers. She still has Moira’s ability to reveal hidden items, but she does this by simply pointing at them. Natalia is also able to see enemies (as colored mist) through walls, ultimately being able to reveal their weak spots for Barry. This definitely comes in handy once you start fighting the Revenant enemy, which is a monstrosity created by splicing together different body parts from two humans. The way this monster is revealed is quite creepy and a moment not long after that sent shivers down my spine. It’s those damn limbs!

Just like in Claire’s scenario, you won’t find any dumb action-packed moments in Barry’s side of the story, despite being aptly armed for the situation. Taking care of Natalia adds another layer to the game’s strong sense of tension, especially in parts where you split up and assume control of the little girl. Parts of Barry’s scenario even reminded me of Slender, especially when you’re in the dark woods outside the prison with a horrifying enemy lurking around. For a game to make me feel dread even when I’m armed with enough firepower is definitely an accomplishment on Capcom’s part. And fans will be happy to know that zombies take center stage in Barry’s scenario.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 is off to a great start with this first episode. It keeps you engaged all throughout its near 2 1/2-hour length, and leaves you wanting more after its shocking cliffhanger ending. You’ll definitely want to replay it after seeing the credits roll, too. Whether you tackle different difficulties, go for different achievements, or quite simply go back to collect everything (blue medals make a return), there’s a lot to do after beating the episode once. And that’s not even mentioning RAID mode, which brings with it extra hours of addictive gameplay with 54 missions across three different difficulty settings. This is definitely the best showing for RAID mode yet, and as I’m typing this, I’m itching to return to it and the main game itself. Episode 1 succeeds in not only being a solid survival horror experience, but also in showing fans that Capcom has been listening. We’re only one episode in and I’m already enjoying this game more than I did the original Revelations. Bring on Episode 2!

CJ’s Take

Here I am writing about a new Resident Evil game, this one being a sequel to a title that I particularly do not enjoy: the first Revelations. Resident Evil Revelations 2 has begun its episodic journey this week with the release of Episode 1: Penal Colony, and with it begins Capcom’s latest efforts to continue one of – if not their biggest – series. After the less-than-stellar Resident Evil 6, Capcom is once again trying to recapture fans by appealing to demands for real survival horror and less of the action-oriented epic Hollywood set pieces Resident Evil 5 and above so passionately embraced. But a weirdest thing has happened: it’s working.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 is by no means a perfect game, but its efforts are valiant and you can feel that Capcom is indeed trying their hardest to produce a contemporary Resident Evil game that will appeal to survival horror fans. The first episode of Revelations 2 makes it clear that this is a different type of game than Resident Evil fans have become used to lately, but it’s not one they’ll be entirely unfamiliar with.

To start, Resident Evil Revelations 2 has clearly been inspired by popular titles from throughout the horror and action genre. The game’s first chapter will remind you multiple times of games such as The Evil Within, Alan Wake, and most of all The Last of Us. There’s even a scene that evokes some cinematic similarities to the latest Tomb Raider game. This isn’t an accusation or damnation of the game’s attempt to appeal to players, because it actually works. I predict that emulation will only take the game so far, perhaps having it tread the line between “been there done that” and “this is one of the better Resident Evil games of late”, and after multiple Resident Evil games that have left long-time fans hungry for something more akin to the series roots, Revelations 2 appears to be taking steps in the right direction.

I won’t touch too heavily on Episode 1’s story, because Jorge already has, but I did want to comment on it a little bit. Perhaps the first Revelations‘ biggest offense was its storytelling. Personally, I couldn’t stand it. It was cheesy but not in the variety that was palatable. Its melodrama was upsetting rather than ignorable. As for the game’s sequel, yes it is indeed cheesy, with characters (particularly Moira and Barry), dropping awkward phrases and jokes, but it’s fun, dumb, and inoffensive. Revelations 2 is trying to be dramatic, especially with its episodic nature, but it’s more than bearable – occasionally charming even.

To quickly wrap up, I think Resident Evil Revelations 2 is off to a good start. I don’t know if will achieve much more than being a decent game, but this is the first time in a long time that I’m excited to play and talk about a Resident Evil that’s not 1-4. I think that’s a good sign.

We won’t give an actual score until the final episode is released.

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