Come 2012, Resident Evil was a franchise that had not only come to be the most successful survival horror series of all time, but was also firmly entrenched as part of the ‘family friendly’ Nintendo brand, thanks to it being the first place that games like the 2002 Resident Evil remake, Resident Evil 0, and Resident Evil 4 debuted. But in 2012 the series made its first real leap onto handheld consoles with the release of Resident Evil: Revelations.
Whilst the series had featured some handheld games in the past, with the completely original Resident Evil Gaiden on the Gameboy Color and a port of Resident Evil on the Nintendo DS, these had been either unsuccessful side games, or just re-releases of past games with a slightly new polish. However, thanks to the new technology of the Nintendo 3DS, Capcom finally felt that the time had come to make a completely original portable entry in the series that would be worth playing.
Recent entries in the series had begun to shift towards a more action approach, with Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 both receiving some praise for this; though the lacklustre Resident Evil 6 that would come out later that same year would receive critical panning for its focus on action over horror. Wanting to offer players something different, game director Koushi Nakanishi decided that Resident Evil: Revelations would have a much bigger focus on the horror roots that the series was known for.
To this end the story was crafted to take place on a huge, deserted cruise ship, essentially a floating mansion at sea. The players get put in control of series mainstay Jill Valentine, who has since left the iconic STARS group and joined the BSAA, a global organisation responsible for combating bio-weapons around the world. Having travelled to the Queen Zenobia after her former partner Chris Redfield goes missing, Jill begins to uncover a conspiracy that could see a deadly new virus spread through the oceans of the world unless she’s able to find a way to stop it.
The choice of setting for the game was actually a pretty good one, with the cruise ship feeling both familiar and completely new in many ways. Large sections of the ship felt like you were back in the Spencer Mansion or the Raccoon City Police building, with the fancy hallways and elegant bedrooms that would have been home to guest. But it was also able to incorporate areas that felt more industrial and mechanical without having to explain away secret labs hidden away (though the game does have those too). It was also a nice nod to the very first handheld Resident Evil game, Resident Evil Gaiden, which also took place on a cruise ship.
Alongside the new setting the game also brought a number of new creatures with it too, thanks to the T-Abyss Virus, a new strain of the Progenitor Virus that combined the T-Virus from the series past with a new virus found in deep-sea creatures. The result are monsters that look like horrible under-water creatures. They have fleshy, grey skin, mouths that open up and extend like eels and worms, and can squeeze through pipes and move through water with frightening speed. A lot of the monsters from this game have yet to actually make a return to the series too, making this the only place that players are able to confront some of the more interesting creatures in the series.
The game made good use of the 3DS technology, releasing a game that pushed a lot of the hardware and presented a gaming experience that felt like a console game in many ways. Added into this, the game incorporated the 3D effects of the console to create the first 3D entry in the series. The graphics were praised upon the game’s release, with many finding it to be one of the best looking games on the console, as well as one of the more exciting entries in the franchise in recent years.
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Only a few years after its handheld release, where it received huge sales and positive reviews, a HD version of the game was brought out onto Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, where it spent a number of weeks at the top of the chart. Thanks to the added hardware specifications of the consoles, this edition was able to push the game-play and graphics of the game even further, with new game modes and updated graphics added. Though these versions didn’t prove to be as popular as the original 3DS release they still did well for the series, and a further re-release would come to the Nintendo Switch, keeping the game on the latest generation of Nintendo portable consoles.
Resident Evil: Revelations was released on 27th February 2012.