Resident Evil Revelations 2 preview: will the weekly cliff-hangers add to the suspense?

Release date: February 25; Capcom; PS3, PS4, PS Vita, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Click to follow
The Independent Tech

Barry is back, grizzled as ever, rocking up to an island to save his daughter and making his way around said island with an unknown little girl with weird (and useful) abilities to sense zombies and hidden items. Elsewhere Claire returns again, with Barry’s daughter in tow. Me? I’m sitting in a dark room surrounded by people, willing myself not to scream out loud.

*Screams internally*

Resident Evil Revelations 2 is Capcom’s return to the series’ survival horror roots. Ammunition isn’t particularly sparse, but it isn’t abundant. Large beasties jump out at you as you navigate dark tunnels and damp corridors. As far as I played, there wasn’t much in the way of ‘the hoard’, rather rotting corpses that needed to be snuck up on or around, who take more bullets than you’d expect to floor. Though, when the bullets are low and Barry is wounded, leaving your screen red stained and your headphones beating, Natalia – our strange little girl – is quite handy with a brick.

The most topical new feature of the game is its episodic release structure. Capcom are following the steps of wildly successful games, released bit by bit on a weekly basis, leaving each episode with a cliff hanger to be resolved in the next. Michiteru Okabe, the game’s producer, explained the decision:

“What we’re aiming for is the kind of discussion that revolves around a weekly TV show, it’s like if you’re watching Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad and you get the so-called ‘water cooler moments’ at work the next day… a sort of conversation develops in the user-base of TV shows where they have the pleasure of waiting for a week for the next developments and they’re more excited.”

 

Okabe also thinks this’ll help bring in gamers new to the Resident Evil series:

“The people who play Resident Evil tend to fall into two camps, those who know the complicated mythos and lore of the series and know what every little reference means, and then the people who got into it relatively recently, they don’t know exactly who Umbrella [the evil bioengineering company from games past] is. I think the newcomers will be able to enjoy the game on its own merits and then if they’re going to be discussing with people or looking online on forums they’ll see how the old-hands are going to bring them up to speed… it really gives the newcomers a chance to be on an equal footing in enjoying the game with the other guys.”

Episodic games can come under easy criticism – you can quickly be cynical and take it all as a money-making gambit – but with Revelations 2 it’s going to be interesting to see how the survival horror genre works with the episodic format; is it better to play these types of games in a darkened room for hours at a time or will the weekly cliff-hangers add to the suspense and enjoyment? Will it create a different kind of conversation around the games?

One conversation that could be had even before the game’s release is whether the trope of older grizzled man protecting younger vulnerable girl has had its day. It’s part of a simplistic narrative formula that gives the player their character’s motivation – usually some paternal impetus to protect. There seem to be myriad examples of highly viewed games using this, think Bioshock: Infinite, think The Last of Us, but no examples with the genders reversed. It feels unoriginal and normative; it feels a little boring.

Though the episodic nature of the game is going to be interesting, tropes like that make you wonder how much conversation is really going to come out of it. We can only hope that the conversation won’t be centred around which over-used narrative device they’ll employ next and rather on whose house to play the coming episode at, 'cause you’re not doing that alone.

Comments