Resident Evil Revelations 2 Episode 1: Penal Colony | Review

“I was almost a Claire sandwich.” “Who’s the master of unlocking now?” Oh Resident Evil, never change.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 on PS4

Here’s what you want to know: yes, Resident Evil Revelations 2 is scary and tense. And yes, its first episode is a must-play for both Resident Evil veterans and newcomers alike.

Ever since its fourth entry, the Resident Evil series has been heading in a more action-oriented direction filled with machine gun-wielding protagonists performing suplexes on helpless zombies. While I don’t particularly mind the action movie feel of the later games (I thoroughly enjoyed watching Leon crash every single possible vehicle in Resident Evil 6), I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the atmospheric tension that the series used to be famous for.

With the release of Resident Evil Revelations on the Nintendo 3DS back in 2012 and on the PS3 and Xbox 360 soon after, Capcom answered the fans’ pleas. By placing Jill Valentine and her colleagues on the abandoned Queen Zenobia, we were left alone to explore the creepy ship as we looked for (boulder-punching) Chris Redfield and his partner. The Queen Zenobia was filled with narrow hallways, dusty libraries, and exuded a sense of horrific claustrophobia not unlike the ornate Spencer mansion in Resident Evil 1. Revelations proved that Capcom was still capable of making good survival horror games in this day and age, and the first episode of the sequel to this spin-off series does not disappoint.


Oh. Oh hello there, HD Claire.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 puts us back in the shoes of the badass biker chick Claire Redfield, whom we haven’t seen since the events of the CGI movie Resident Evil: Degeneration. Well, Claire’s not a biker chick anymore, though that doesn’t make her any less of a badass. She’s now working with TerraSave, an organization dedicated to helping out victims of bioterrorism. Working alongside her is Moira Burton – spunky, foul-mouthed, and going through something of a rebellious phase with her father, the bearded and lovable Barry Burton.

The first half of Revelations 2’s debut episode, Penal Colony, has us take control of Claire and Moira as we try to find a way out of a mysterious prison. While Claire acts as the brawn of the pair, Moira stays on flashlight duty as she helps to look for hidden items stashed around the prison.


Beautiful vacation spot.

As I explored cell after cell in the building, what really grabbed my attention were the strange bracelets that Claire and Moira were wearing. The bracelets flashed orange for the most part of episode 1, indicating the characters’ anxiety as they looked for an exit. The main villain, yet to be revealed, spoke to us through the bracelets, uttering poetic nonsense and egging us on. What really scared me in Revelations 2 was the idea that “evil is watching” and that every move I made was pre-determined.

It’s easy to draw comparisons between Penal Colony and the Saw movies where the villain observes the protagonist’s every move, and makes his own moves in turn. There are cameras placed all over the prison and they follow your every move, locking and unlocking doors for you.

Mystery is very much alive in Resident Evil Revelations 2, and the sense of danger came from my own fear of the unknown, rather than the enemies that were physically present in the area. The game loves to keep you guessing, often throwing out more questions than answers.

Oh groovy.

Oh groovy.

Of course, that’s not to say the enemies in Revelations 2 aren’t scary at all. Trust me, they are. True to Resident Evil fashion, this episode is full of blood-splattered rooms, jerking body bags, and the occasional jump scare that gets you every time no matter how prepared you think you are. The zombies, or Afflicted as they’re called in this game, are capable of following you up ladders (great, just great), though it’s a little disappointing to see that they give up their pursuit once you pass through a door.

The second half of the episode slows down the pacing quite a bit as we take control of Barry Burton and newcomer Natalia Korda. While I only got to use a handgun and shotgun with Claire, Barry comes packing with a Samurai Edge, a machine gun, and his iconic magnum. This was done possibly to make up for the fact that Natalia isn’t a very combat-oriented ally. However, while Natalia can’t swing a crowbar around like Moira can, she does have her own useful abilities as well.

It happens.

It happens.

When crouching, Natalia can sense the presence of enemies in the area and highlight them to Barry, allowing him to sneak up and knife a zombie in the head. I have to say, even if you play Revelations 2 by yourself, the AI is pretty competent in that they can fend for themselves and warn you whenever there are enemies close by. The AI abilities can further improve if you purchase skills for them with the BP you earn throughout the course of the campaign. Both pairs of characters round each other out nicely, and neither are too overpowered that it would lessen the tension of the game.

However, I have bad news for those intending to play this game on PC: at the moment, the PC version of the game does not support co-op mode for the main campaign. Online co-op will be available for Raid Mode once the final episode has been released, but those hoping to tackle the story together with a friend will have to look elsewhere.

Both Natalia and Moira are worthy newcomers to the series as they both add a layer of mystery and intrigue to the story. Moira clearly has unresolved issues with her father, and her fear of firearms does help to portray her as a more relatable character to the millennials. On the other hand, you can’t help but get a sense of foreboding whenever you look at Natalia. She’s a young child dressed in a white dress, and she wears that same strange bracelet as Claire and Moira, only hers flashes red – an indication that she’s dangerously close to mutation. Yeah I’m sure this’ll turn out well.

The two girls have the potential to become strong leads in the story and I’m looking forward to seeing the development of their character arcs in the next three episodes.

Flashlight duty. Very important stuff.

Flashlight duty. Very important stuff.

It’s also worth mentioning that Resident Evil Revelations 2 supports co-operative gameplay where you can grab a friend to take on the roles of Moira and Natalia. Though the second player will probably have to take on a more defensive role, you’ll find that they’re still invaluable as allies due to their abilities to locate hidden items and enemies.

As far as technical issues go, Revelations 2 looks rather gorgeous running on the PS4. Aside from a few clipping issues where the bug-type enemies could merge with the walls, the game’s environments looked as grim and dark as they were intended to be. The sense of dread that permeates this first episode never goes away, and that’s a crucial element that has been noticeably missing from the past two Resident Evil games.

Moira has a fear of firearms, but Raid Mode's no problem for her.

Moira has a fear of firearms, but Raid Mode’s no problem for her.

Aside from the main campaign, Raid Mode also makes a return in this title. You get to customize your characters, unlock new skins for them, customize your weapons, and as if all of that wasn’t enough, you get to play it in co-op mode as well. Though online co-op won’t be available until the final episode has been released, you can still play Raid Mode in local co-op with a friend. In addition to that, there are Daily Missions you can download for Raid Mode that will net you a gold boost, allowing you to purchase more customization options for your characters.

Resident Evil Revelations 2’s first episode is a strong start to the game and the only fault I can find with this method of release is that the next episode can’t come out soon enough. Penal Colony provided just the right amount of backstory and twists to leave the player wanting to find out what’s next in the story. Survival horror makes a triumphant return with Revelations 2 and this is another significant step in the right direction for the decade-old series.

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