E3 2011: Resident Evil: Revelations preview – Jill and Chris’ possibly excellent retro adventure

For anyone who felt Resident Evil 5’s summer movie formula approach was a step in the wrong direction for the long-running horror series, Revelations might be what you’re looking for. Starring Jill and Chris (and a boat full of insert-virus-here grotesque creatures), Revelations plays a lot like Resident Evil 4, only with a few console-specific tweaks.

Movement and interaction are handled in a very similar fashion as in RE4. We felt right at home with the E3 demo’s familiar surroundings, with RE5-era Jill waking up in yet another mansion-type environment, though any further idea of the demo’s setting is unknown.

The door out of the bedroom is locked, so you’re forced to look around for a way around this obstacle. In an adjacent bathroom, there’s a screwdriver you find after draining some murky water—yes, it is nice to see the Resident Evil classic, goofy puzzle logic at work again here—though before you get a chance to put it to use, the first of Revelations’ new monsters appears. These bizarre new baddies look like they’re made of plaster or clay, bearing a vague resemblance to RE4’s horrifying Regenerators, and sport blunt, club-like arms. We didn’t find them much of a threat, though, as they move slowly and dissolve into a puddle of organic goo and blood after a few shots.

After dispatching the first monster, we used the screwdriver to open the top of nearby wall-mounted panel, at which point you’re given a touchscreen puzzle to solve by moving around circuit connections to create a triangular pattern. It was a good use of the 3DS’ touch controls and once again felt like a little bit of the old Resident Evil.

The Lost in Nightmares vibe grew as we continued to wander the mansion, down dingy wood-floored hallways and through a book-filled room left to long disuse. There was even an open dining room complete with a take on the iconic split staircase dating all the way back to the original RE. Though previous trailers and reports set Revelations on a boat, we wouldn’t be surprised if this area was just tucked away in some other part of a larger, more traditional ship—though it does look awfully similar to Spencer’s mansion.

Combat, as infrequent as it was against the increasingly grotesque monsters, is also ripped almost straight from RE4, with one small exception: shooting takes place in first-person (think Killer 7). The nice thing about it compared to five is that you can tap the touchscreen to use your items and switch between weapons (though using the d-pad to change them works just as well), so the action on-screen isn’t obscure. This is definitely not the crowd control mob combat of RE5, and keeps with the tone and apparent pacing of this sequel. (Melee was noticeably absent—apparently Capcom isn’t talking about that yet.)

The demo also introduced the supply scanner, a Metroid Prime-style environmental analysis “gun” that can be used to scan for hidden items in an environment. We were able to find a few extra shotgun shells and handgun bullets during the demo session, though telling whether the tool will be more fully integrated into puzzle or other gameplay design is still up in the air.

Revelations seems like a new twist on the RE4 approach, and it looks fantastic on the 3DS—it’s probably one of the best looking games being made for the system right now, in fact. We’ll find out if it can live up to expectations when it hits next year.

Jun 16, 2011

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