We're closing out the year of the Nintendo Switch with Resident Evil! It's not Resident Evil 7, a soft reboot for the franchise which launched on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation earlier this year though. Instead, Switch owners get to take a run through Resident Evil: Revelations Collection, which brings together Resident Evil: Revelations and its sequel together in a single package. Well, sort of. You can buy them separately on the eShop and they actually occupy two different slots on the Switch system menu.
Resident Evil: Revelations
Resident Evil: Revelations originally launched Nintendo 3DS back in 2012, offering the "full" RE franchise experience on a portable platform for the first time. Since then, it's been ported to a number of platforms, with an HD version released on Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. This year marked another release for the HD version, with the game coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One earlier in the year and ending up on Switch today.
It's not hard to tell that Revelations was originally made for a portable platform, the 3DS in specifically. While the core Resident Evil gameplay is intact, the game is split up into scenes or episodes. These scenes are also scored, encouraging smaller play sessions and repeat engagements. The game also spreads itself over a smaller region with less variety in the look. You'll find yourself revisiting earlier areas often, and even the later non-cruise ship environments don't impress too much.
Revelations is combat-heavy in the same sense as Resident Evil 4, reaching survival horror tension through resource management; you generally know where the threat is coming from, it's just a matter of if you're willing to use resources to dispatch it or run. You'll run into a few issues as the run-and-gun controls and over-the-shoulder camera sometimes conflict with the tighter corridors of the cruise ship.
The story follows Resident Evil mainstays Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield as they puzzle out a bio-terrorist threat on a cruise ship called the Queen Zenobia. You control Jill for most of the game, but the plot jumps between multiple characters, including Chris, to flesh out its overall narrative. That narrative comes to around 10 hours of playtime and it's surprisingly straightforward for most of that.
The main reason to keep playing once you've beaten the game is the Raid Mode, which pushes the game more towards its Mercenaries-inspired roots. It allows you and another player to battle hordes of enemies in certain sections of the game. Raid Mode has a progression system, with experience unlocking new equipment and other extras.
The HD release looked much better than the 3DS release with new models, new effects, and improved textures. That version is essentially what's made its way over to the Nintendo Switch. Textures and models look largely the same as the Wii U version and the game runs at 60 fps on the platform in docked and handheld modes. Of the two ports, this is the better of the pair. It looks and plays silky smooth.
Rounding out the package is JoyCon motion control support, letting you use the right Joy-Con to aim and use the knife with a flick of your wrist, and the left Joy-Con to shake off foes who get too close. Motion controls work fine, but they are in no way the optimal way to play, especially in a resource-intensive game like this. There's also a mini-game included while you're waiting for things to load, Ghost Ship Panic, which let you shoot zombies coming from the top of the screen for some extra BP. This was seemingly added to paper over the fact that both games have signifcant loading times, stretching from 40 seconds to a minute.
Despite being a better port, Revelations is the game that hasn't aged as well. It was always a mix of Resident Evil 4 and the Mercenaries game mode, held back in part by its original home on the 3DS and a low budget. As a part of the package, it's worth your time as a decent diversion, but if you're only buying one of them, this isn't the one to get.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is definitely the stronger of the two titles and probably the one that most folks will pick up if they're buying these digitally. Revelations 2 originally launched on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC as a weekly episodic release, in the style of Telltale's adventure games. Capcom later released the game on PlayStation Vita, bringing the spinoff series back to its portable roots.
Unlike its predecessor, Revelations 2 is closer to a full-fledged Resident Evil experience, given its original launch on home console platforms. The budget is still lower than mainline entries, but Revelations 2 just seems more self-assured in what it wants to be. It's as action-heavy as the first Revelations, but the Saw-like setting is unique, the environments sport some better designs, and the dual-character system used here offers some interesting gameplay options.
Revelations 2's tale splits its focus between two storylines. The first involves Resident Evil 2 heroine Claire Redfield and Moira Burton, daughter of Resident Evil's Barry Burton, being kidnapped and brought to a facility on Sushestvovanie Island. The second tale is about Barry Burton himself, six months after the storyline with Claire and Moira. Barry is attempting to find his daughter and he's joined on the island by a mysterious little girl named Moira.
In either storyline, one character acts as the muscle, playing in traditional Resident Evil style, while the second character is a support. Moira doesn't use guns, but can shine her light to point out items or blind enemies. Natalia is psychic and can use her powers to highlight hidden enemies or point out weakpoints in the environment. Since you're not forced to use either character all the time, you retain the feeling of strength you normally have in Resident Evil, but you have something else to do other than shoot things and solve puzzles. I appreciated the occasional change of pace.
The pair of characters in either storyline allows for one of the more interesting features of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 on Switch: cooperative play. You can turn on split-screen mode and play with one Joy-Con each or additional controllers in Tabletop mode. I don't recommend using the split Joy-Con method, as you lose out on buttons in order to make the single-analog stick controls work, but in a pinch you can play Resident Evil on the go with a friend on a tiny screen. (There are motion control options here too and they work much the same as Revelations' controls.)
Raid Mode is also playable in local multiplayer with split Joy-Cons or multiple controllers. Raid Mode in Revelations 2 adds more diverse enemy skills and stages pulled directly from Resident Evil 6. There are more levels to explore and more stuff to unlock here, turning Raid Mode into a stronger selling point for the entire game. I'd still give the edge to Revelations' Raid Mode as the bespoke stages offer better level design.
Visually, Revelations 2 is an odd mix on the Switch. It's generally up to snuff with its home console counterparts in terms of overall models and textures, but there have definitely been compromises. While the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of Revelations 2 have a target of 60fps (unlocked), the Switch version is only 30 fps (also unlocked). It gets odd when you take into account things like Claire's hair, which is jittery and weird-looking on the Switch. (My guess is the hair is rendered at 15 or 20 fps.) None of this is really a deal-breaker, but Revelations 2 was never really breaking the bank in terms of visuals, so the cuts are a little disappointing. Also, the film grain filter is still a part of the game and you still can't turn it off.
It also doesn't help that if you buy Revelations Collection on Switch physically, Revelations 2 is a download code. There's no way to get the game on a cartridge, meaning you need to have 23.6 GB free on your Switch or microSD card. (Revelations is 12GB digitally, by the way.)
Still, of the two games, this is the one to buy if you're not picking up the full collection. It looks better, it offers more interesting play, and the Raid Mode is still a hefty addition. The included mini-game, Ghouls ‘n Homunculi, is a more enjoyable Ghosts ‘n Goblins homage than Revelations' sparse offering. Loading times remain the same here, with 10-20 seconds for a cutscene and up to a minute in loading a level.
Revelations was sort of an experiment in fitting Resident Evil on a portable platform, while Revelations 2 is a Resident Evil game that cuts the corners on a budget. Neither is a full port of Resident Evil 4 like the Switch deserves, but Revelations 2 is the better buy overall.
At the end of the day, you're buying both of these for the same reason that everyone is buying Switch ports: the ability to play the games at home or on the go. For that, Revelations 1 and 2 are both decent ports. What's odd is they aren't really a collection in the traditional sense; even in physical release, they're seperate games. Revelations 1 looks great and is only held back by the underlying game itself. Revelations 2 is a better game, but there are cuts to make it run on the portable platform. In the end though, those cuts are much shallower than some other recent Switch ports, meaning it's more than worth it if you absolutely have to have Resident Evil on the go.