As I’ve said on previous occasions, I’m not much of a survival horror fan. I’ve never seriously sat down and played any of the previous Resident Evil games and don’t even get me started on Silent Hill. Yet ever since Resident Evil Revelations was announced and those first few early gameplay trailers began to leak through the internet, I’ve found myself strangely and inexplicably drawn to this game. And I might as well say now that this demo might just have converted this perpetual survival horror dodger to the dark side.
The game opened to find Jill Valentine trapped inside a mysterious mansion (not the ship featured in the Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D demo). Dimly lit deserted hallways, hauntingly quiet libraries and sparse supplies of ammo were the order of the day in this forsaken old house, but it quickly became apparent that I wasn’t alone down here.
It just wouldn’t be Resident Evil without some zombies crawling out of the shelves now, would it?
Now the one downside to playing a game like this (or indeed any game) at an expo is the complete absence of in-game sound and music. Facing a relentless barrage of pumping bass and excited chatter from all the stands and booths surrounding me, atmosphere was severely lacking. Yet I was very pleased to find that Revelations did such a good job of creating tension and suspense without needing any music to up the creepy-factor that I was almost able to tune out everything else that was going on around me. I was completely engrossed from the word go, and if the anxious cries of the panicked players next to me were anything to go by, they were too.
Most of the demo was pretty familiar Resident Evil territory. Locked doors thwart you at every turn, and cryptic clues are hidden in the everyday objects around you. Armed with only a pistol, I wandered cautiously around the mansion trying to work out why I was stuck in this strange place.
The controls all felt very comfortable and easy to get to grips with, there wasn’t a single moment when I thought this would be any better with an additional circle pad. Taking cues from Resident Evil 4 and 5, Revelations employs an over-the-shoulder view as Jill creeps through the mansion corridors, and you can move around and aim with the circle pad, accomplishing both at the same time if you hold down the L button. Y will open doors and pick up items, and you can also go into first-person when shooting if you so wish. It was a little irritating not to be able to move and shoot simultaneously, especially when brain-hungry zombies are bounding and lolloping up toward you (or at least I didn’t work out how to in the course of the demo) but otherwise there’s nothing to fear on the control side of things.
It also wouldn’t be Resident Evil without Jill, the “master of unlocking”, picking some locked doors.
The zombies themselves were also pretty formidable opponents. Their strength and frequency were well balanced, although it was always tipped toward the more difficult and challenging end of the scales. This was by no means a bad thing, although my demo experience did come to an abrupt end when two of them ganged up on me and promptly sank their teeth into Jill’s neck one too many times. If anything it’s a clear sign that Revelations isn’t going to be a walk in the park– this game means business and it’s out to get you from the very beginning.
So if I were to summarise Resident Evil Revelations in just one word from only 10-odd minutes of gameplay, it would simply be: “outstanding”. This is, without a doubt, the most stunning 3DS game to date, and unlike my demo experience with Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, there’s a lot of substance and solid mechanics behind this beautiful veneer to make it a true “revelation” (if you’ll pardon the pun) for 3DS. Even though my time with the game was a lot shorter than I would have liked, I was very excited by what I saw and it’s clear that Capcom have truly outdone themselves with this title. I can’t wait to get my hands on the full game when it’s released next year.