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Resident Evil Revelations – Demo Impressions

Aren't there a lot of Resident Evil games coming out this year?

Nintendo has made news with its downloadable services recently. Their approach to the digital space rarely is news worthy and when it is, it’s usually not for a good reason. When they began offering demos on the Wii, they decided to limit when they were accessible instead of having them permanently available, until about a week ago when they released all previously available demos for no apparent reason. In other news, the Nintendo eShop (the 3DS downloadable service) has been garnering praise recently for hosting quality games; an uncommon reaction considering the lay of the land of original games on Nintendo’s downloadable services.

This brings me to the point of this article. Newsworthy only because I’m writing about it, the eShop received its first demo recently. Resident Evil: Revelations is the title and it’s one of my few experiences with the venerable series.

I was wowed by the game’s graphics. It seems Capcom likes to flex their technical prowess with the series as of late and Revelations looks great. Of course, it looks great in the pantheon of handheld games, but even thrown alongside the output of current home consoles, it’s still eye-catching. The environment I played in had many rooms and they contained nice detail. Dressers had items scattered about them and bookshelves were brimming with books. I wasn’t impressed with the 3D though. I tried playing with it for a bit and it didn’t look much different; text did pop well though.

Because I lack knowledge on the series, the plot would be above my head, if the demo had contained much info on it. I played as Jill Valentine, a familiar heroine for the series, and she woke up confused as to where she was and how she got there. She had contact from another person who she spent the rest of the demo trying to reach.

Jill is apparently not the only playable character.

The game’s environment and Jill’s impression of it being a mansion led me to believe she was in a mansion. But it turns out this was just a clever nod to the original. Until she reached her cohort, I was fooled; it turns out she was on a ship. The rooms I explored looked as if they belonged in a mansion; well decorated rooms, long hallways, gala rooms, this ship was nice. Except for the zombies.

Zombies, or whatever Capcom wants to call them nowadays. Revelations takes place in between Resident Evil 4 and 5, so the creatures didn’t look like stock zombies. They staggered towards me like zombies, but they looked like ghastly deformed humans. The demo culminated with Jill fighting a “super” creature, one who had spikes extending from its arms.

Instead of tank controls as was custom in the series’ early years, Revelations inherits the control scheme from Resident Evil 4. The newer control setup gives gunplay an enhanced role in the game, and prevents me from “fighting” the awkward movement found in the earlier games. I controlled Jill with the analog stick and although I lacked a second one (good for camera control) the way the camera moved with Jill was fine. To shoot zombies creatures, I pulled up Jill’s gun and I then saw from her eyes. I couldn’t move when in first-person and this stillness has received much flak from critics. It’s frustrating when a creature is right in front of my character and I have to exit this view and quickly run away to get some distance again, but I’m okay with it as it’s a design choice and not an oversight on Capcom’s part and I’m not here to critique it.

Perhaps my favorite part of the demo was scanning for hidden items. Because there’s a scarcity of ammunition and healing items, it can be tough to survive. This item management can amplify the tension when a creature suddenly appears and I need to decide whether to take it out quickly with a shotgun and sacrifice hard to find shotgun shells or risk loss of life and get in close with a knife. This scanner gave me the confidence that I could succeed as I was better equipped after finding hidden items.

Looks like trouble, sounds like trouble, it's probably not here to lend Jill a hand getting up.

Even though Resident Evil: Revelations features a more action-oriented control scheme, the pace of the game was quite slow. Jill didn’t really run, but the level I played wasn’t full of creatures so I could take my time. There was a simple “fetch this to progress” obstacle in Jill’s way which makes me wonder what puzzles, if any, will be in the game. One thing I’m not in the dark about is Nintendo’s continued off-kilter policies regarding the downloadable space – the demo for Resident Evil: Revelations has a limited number of plays, albeit thirty is plenty.