Resident Evil: Revelations is a Frightening, Delightful Experience

This is Resident Evil as I remember it: Eerie, tense, long moments of exploration punctuated by brief, startling encounters.

Resident Evil: Revelations, due out next year on Nintendoʼs 3DS, is a brand new title with roots firmly planted in the early days of Resident Evil, back when the game was unequivocally about surviving the horrors of your journey, not shooting your way through them.

Happily, Revelations also sneaks in some minor, very smart changes to the franchise. Namely, while your ammo remains limited, making your gun more a last resort then a first retort, you can now move around while aiming and firing those precious few shots.

The section of the game I played through was a brief amalgam of gameplay, something stripped of most plot, meant instead to give me a taste of the mood, mechanics and look of the game. While a demo is in development for the title, a demo which will show up with copies of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries, this was not it.

The game opened in a small locked room, with me controlling Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance member Jill Valentine. After a brief search, Valentine discovers a tub filled with blood. Draining the tub reveals a screwdriver. Using the screwdriver on a panel next to the door kicks off a short mini-game that has me using the touch screen to hack the door. Itʼs a fairly simple wire connecting game that doesnʼt really add or distract from play.

Once out of the room Iʼm able to guide Valentine from room to room with the thumbstick.

The controls are smooth, the graphics impressive. The game doesnʼt pack each room with threats or constantly scare you with cheap tricks. Instead, what Revelations appears to be a more methodically paced game. My first encounter is startling, but Iʼm able to dispatch the ambling creature quickly.

Later I make my way into a large dining room, the tables and chairs blanketed in a thick fog. Itʼs an amazing effect. The 3D slider is cranked all of the way up and it does seem to make the who scene pop a bit more. I move Valentine through the thick fog expecting something to pop out at me, or attack. But nothing happens, not until Iʼm on a second floor opening a door.

At first I donʼt recognize why it is that I find the combat so much easier to deal with.

Then I realize itʼs because when I pull my gun and aim the game shifts from a third-person perspective to a first person one, but I can still move.

No longer rooted to the floor, the combat feels more natural, but no less terrifying. I back up as I fire off shots at a pair of creatures working their way toward me. Backed against a closed door, Iʼm suddenly unable to move. A rising sense of panic sweeps over me as I try to change weapons. This is how you weave mobility into the narrative of gameplay.

Itʼs a smart decision to allow gamers to move and fire, if only because it means there will be times that can be stripped away creating terrifying encounters.

Itʼs far too early to say how the story, something very important to this game, will shape up. But the gameplay and the graphics seems like a tremendous step in the right direction.