Resident Evil: Revelations 2

Thursday 9 March 2017

After Resident Evil 6, which brought together several classic characters of the Resident Evil saga, Capcom released Revelations 2 as a side-game, featuring two other long-time favourites, Claire Redfield and Barry Burton.

Claire, the sister of Chris Redfield, appeared first in one of the first Resident Evil games, Resident Evil 2, and much later in Code: Veronica, sharing the main lead with Leon Kennedy and Chris, respectively. However these two appearances were enough (not counting The Darkside Chronicles which included summary remakes of both stories) to classify her as one of the most liked characters of the series. Barry's most memorable feature was in the original Resident Evil (and subsequently its remake) as Jill Valentine's partner, and although he only made guest appearances in a few other games later (at one of the endings of Nemesis or in a couple of Mercenaries games), he is a character particularly liked by fans. In Revelations 2, they join forces, although only in a small segment we actually see them taking action together, to bring down a terrifying villain who seems to be connected to them in more than one ways.

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is a bizzare and strangely atmospheric tale which, although categorized as side-game, could very well take a place among the main installments, just like Code: Veronica (which also was considered a side-story, but essentially it could be Resident Evil 3 instead of Nemesis, which may have been a wonderful game, but was more like a complement to Resident Evil 2).

Revelations 2 sees Claire many years after Code: Veronica, now in her early 30ties, highly appreciated member of the Terra Save organization, units of which travel to places around the world that suffered bio-terror attacks, to help out the victims and survivors. Claire also recruited Moira Burton, Barry's daughter, to join the organization, much to Barry's discontent, as he fears this field is way too dangerous for his daughter. It's pretty clear from the beginning that Claire and Moira are great friends, and also that the situation between Moira and Barry is extremely tense, to the extent that they constantly fight with Moira showing sheer disrespect for her father. The reason for this tumultuous relationship will be known later on.

The story is split in four episodes, and each episode is split in two parts, one starring Claire and one starring Barry, six months later.

Episode 1: Penal Colony

During the party at the Terra Save headquarters for welcoming new members, the building is under attack and next thing you know, Claire wakes up in a dirty and stinky prison cell, the door of which magically opens as soon as she gets to her senses. Minutes later, she finds Moira in a similar cell and together they start a desperate attempt to escape from that place, while trying to figure out why they were brought there. Both of them have bracelets attached round their wrists, through which the intimidating voice of a woman can be heard, giving them weird instructions and revealing cryptic hints about the place and herself.

Getting out of the prison is not an easy task, and naturally there will be monsters stalking them and making their life even tougher. At some point, they spot a little girl in a white gown running in a corridor, but they immediately lose her from sight. Sooner or later they will be out and finally locate a radio tower, only to realize that they are actually on an island, separated from the rest of the world.

Six months later, Barry Burton arrives at the island looking for the girls. At the bay where he left his steamboat, and just as he is about to start exploring the place, he meets a little girl in a white gown, who asks him to take her with him. Despite his initial hesitation, Barry agrees and from then and on Natalia Korda, as is her name, will be his companion. Natalia seems to be able to see and sense enemies before the actually appear, something that will prove very useful during Barry's quest.

Barry and Natalia pass from the prison where Claire and Moira were held, only now the place is much more stinky and dirty, and the monsters have mutated even more and are creepier than before. After crossing a dark forest with lethal inhabitants, they manage to reach the radio tower but of course there is no sign of the girls.

Episode 2: Contemplation

Claire and Moira leave the radio tower and while exploring the place, they reach a fishing village where they come across two more Terra Save members, Pedro and Gabe, who have obviously been abducted and brought there too, as they are wearing bracelets as well. As it turns out, the creepy woman injected all the Terra Save members with a special virus which messes with the feeling of fear, and attached these bracelets round their wrists to check how each one responds to it: the bracelets are green when the person is feeling calm, they get orange when they sense mild anxiety or controlled stress, and become red when the person is overwhelmed by fear. This proves quite fatal for Pedro, who becomes so scared during an attack that the virus turns him into a monster.

At just the right time, Claire and Moira are aided by Neil Fisher, the Terra Save boss, who appears unexpectedly and saves them. Neil is also wearing a bracelet round his wrist, but seems quite cool throughout the whole sequence. They split again as they reach a town, and a bit later Claire and Moira get to meet Natalia whom they also spotted for a second during their prison break. Together the three of them manage to get out to another part of the town, but Natalia mysteriously disappears soon after.

Six months later, Barry and Natalia arrive at the fishing village, now inhabited by invisible monsters, and the town, where the most terrifying mutants await. They finally enter a secret lair with the most creepy decoration, where the grotesque figure of a hideous monster appears, calling Natalia by her name. However Barry and Natalia manage to escape, and exit out to the sewers.

Episode 3: Judgement

Claire and Moira continue their quest in an abandoned factory and later in a slaughterhouse, where all kinds of monsters lurk. Getting out of that place, and passing through equally hostile sewers, eventually they reach the tower from where the creepy woman is broadcasting her messages via the bracelets. There, they stumble upon a nasty surprise, and they are forced to fight and kill someone that one of them cares for.

Six months later, Barry and Natalia are wandering in the sewers looking for an exit. It is revealed that years ago Moira accidentally pulled the trigger of one of Barry's guns and wounded her little sister. This caused a major crisis in the family resulting in Barry and Moira being in such bad terms all these years. Barry and Natalia eventually reach a huge mine, where they are attacked be the grotesque monster of before.

Episode 4: Metamorphosis

Claire and Moira finally get to see the woman who has been talking to them all along, but after mumbling inconsistencies, she commits suicide in front of their eyes. Running for the exit as the countdown starts, they are stopped by falling rubble. Claire sees Moira getting trapped under a pile of cement. Her only option is to make a leap of faith into the ocean, hoping she will survive so that she will be able to get back to Moira as soon as possible.

Six months later, Barry and Natalia pass through a monster-occupied mine and arrive at a mansion which holds the secret entrance to the grotesque monster's lair. The final fight may vary, depending on how you chose to end Claire's Episode 3.

Borrowing the episode titles, the taglines that appear before the episodes, as well as many other elements, from Franz Kafka's literary work, Revelations 2 manages to create a unique atmosphere which combines mystery, terror, charm, a disturbing sense of isolation and the feeling of being constantly under observation, all this taking place in deserted, post-apocalyptic environments, both interior and exterior, that perfectly match the twisted plot in which the characters are entangled. The story is built around Kafka's stories and is directly related to them in several ways.

The Overseer, the cruel and paranoid woman who is behind all this, uses the bracelets that her prisoners wear to talk to them (the bracelets are some kind of receivers, through which her voice is transmitted). At certain points, she uses quotes from Kafka, which carry a special allegory to the scene they are heard in.

The episode titles, related directly to the characters, gain a different value when associated with the original stories they are taken from. There are also several other references to Kafka throughout the game, as well as extracts from 'Penal Colony' and 'The Trial' among the files that can be found throughout the game, and thoughts on 'Metamorphosis' in one of them.

During Claire and Moira's journey, Moira spots drawings on walls, highlighted by her flashlight. These are depictions of Kafka's own drawings, that were found in his diaries after his death. Although he did not think much of them himself, they got greatly appreciated posthumously and even served as cover images of his published books.

Revelations 2 involves characters, both leading and secondary, that are important part of the plot and their presence affects and gets affected by the events. The smart addition of a partner whose abilities are different than the main character's adds a lot to this. For example, Moira won't use a weapon in the main story, but she is able to pry open barred gates with her crowbar, which Claire can't; or she can highlight dark corners with her flashlight, thus revealing hidden ammo and items. Equally Natalia, who is too young to hold anything lethal, can point out hidden items thanks to her advanced perception, indicate a monster's weak point so that Barry can directly hit it there, crawl through tiny spaces where Barry can't pass, so as to unlock doors from the other side, or hit enemies with bricks, stunning them for seconds so that Barry can attack them.

The story is solid, strong and quite deep; the characters are consistent and their sentimental and personal development comes naturally, as a consequence of the life-changing events they experience. There are little details that underline traits and qualities in a very clever way; ie, during the attack at the Wossek Inn, when Pedro starts whimpering in terror, Moira advices him to chill out. Of course she is scared too, but she is the daughter of Barry Burton, so naturally there is a good amount of bravery in her.

The only thing that somehow doesn't fit character-wise, is the way Claire is shown treating little Natalia when she and Moira have the chance to talk to her for the firs time: we see Claire being quite pushy and persistent in her attempt to make the little girl speak, resulting in Natalia feeling scared and being unable to respond until Moira takes over and manages to loosen her up by talking to her gently. I guess that the creators wanted to show that Moira, despite her rebellious and headstrong nature, does have a good side and knows how to deal with children because she has a little sister herself, but it wasn't necessary to do this on the expense of having Claire acting like she did. We already know that Claire is good with children, since in Resident Evil 2 she found a scared Sherry and took her under her protection, always taking care of her and obviously knowing how to treat her. If she knew how to do all that when she was 19, it's hard to believe that she had no clue in her 30ties all of a sudden. This is a minor detail, but I think it contradicts and degrades Claire's personality a bit.

The gameplay is more or less like in Resident Evil 6, only simpler (ie, here you can perform only one simple dodge move). You can sprint at will, but for a limited time; then you need a few seconds to catch your breath while running normally, before you are able to do it again. Combat is easy to handle; as Claire and Barry, you have the option to use your knife whenever you please and you can combine melee and weapon attacks to successfully defeat enemies.

When you play the game for the very first time, you get to find weapons and items along the way and, assuming you locate the necessary upgrades, you can also expand your inventory space to the maximum. Such upgrades are hidden in special boxes that can only be opened by Moira and Natalia. Once you have found all the weapons and all the upgrades, they will remain in your inventory forever. You have the option to put away weapons at the Workbenches, but you can never discard them. This has a major downside, that you can never start a completely New Game; to do this, you have to literally delete your savedata and make sure that Steam synchronization is off, so that you are able to begin your game from scratch.

The game has four difficulty levels: Casual, Normal, Survival and No Escape. Completing specific tasks in the game also unlocks extra material, like screen filters, costumes, cutscenes, concept art galleries and files. There is a Raid Mode included, which is a variation of the old school 'Mercenaries', and offers several missions with different requirements. You can unlock many familiar characters to play with in Raid Mode, and there is a great variety of weapons that you can find in treasure chests throughout the missions or exchange at the in-game store with your collected battle points.

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