Although Capcom originally coined the term "survival horror" to describe the first Resident Evil, one can't say that the franchise has been very much about that as of late. Resident Evil 4 and its sequel were far more heavily focused on action rather than suspense, with almost no scares to be found.
Of course, many would argue that Resident Evil 4 was one of, if not the best game in the series, but die-hard RE fans who had been there from the beginning were simply missing what used to be the most important element of Resident Evil. We had a chance to play a demo of the game at Nintendo Benelux's headquarters in the Netherlands today, and we can gladly confirm that horror finally seems to be coming back to the series.
The demo starts with Jill waking up in a dusty old bedroom, not unlike those found in the Spencer Mansion from the original game, something she even mentions in a radio conversation with new character Parker Luciani shortly after. We're quickly confronted with two classic RE moments right after this: heading into a bathroom and draining the bathtub to find a key item, before a monster bursts out of the closet next to the bed we woke up in.
The monsters seem to bear the most resemblance to the Regenerator enemies from the fourth game, with a somewhat human-like figure but a completely ridiculous, jittery walk. They attack similarly too, producing some sort of tube-like appendage from their mouth and sucking the blood right out of your neck. Thankfully, they're quite easy to take out, dissolving into a pile of liquid on the floor after a few bullets
After getting rid of the creature we were confronted with a locked door, which in classic RE fashion must be opened by solving a puzzle. Using the screwdriver found in the bathtub to unscrew a panel next to the door, the door is unlocked by moving some fuses around in the fuse box.
Walking down the next hallway we quickly stumbled upon our old friend the shotgun, though it only comes loaded with two shells, barely enough to take out one of the new creatures, if you're lucky. After some forlorn libraries and hallways with some more enemies we found ourselves in a big banquet hall with multiple circular tables and chairs spread around, as well as a large, classy staircase. It's also eerily foggy, with a layer of mist floating around the floor. Clearly it's got atmosphere in spades.
In a room connected to the banquet hall we find an interesting new item: a scanner, which when equipped allows you to go into a first person mode and scan your surroundings. Scanning specific, marked spots may cause items to appear — they could be key items, but they could also be handy supplies of ammo, so keep your eyes peeled.
In the next few rooms, we encountered some different mutations of the creatures seen before, including one with a big, bloated head and one with spiky arms, and although they attack slightly differently they seem to mostly act the same. Luckily, we just found some grenades beforehand using the scanner, making short work of the beasts.
After entering an elevator after these monstrosities, we met up with Parker, who says we should head to the bridge of the ship up ahead. The bridge triggers a cutscene in which Jill is suddenly grabbed by an unknown assailant. She wrestles free and asks who this person is; the guy grabs a gun, the screen goes black with a gunshot and the demo comes to an end.
What impressed us throughout the demo was that Capcom still seems to have a sense of how to do a horror game right: we felt all alone throughout the few rooms as opposed to constantly being surrounded by non-scary enemies, and although most of the monster appearances here were quite expected, we can imagine there'll be some nice jump scares in the full game.
There's not much ammo in plain sight, much like the first game, meaning you'll have to scan frequently to find more, and you'll need it, because by the end of the demo we were just about to run out. Miss a few shots and you could be in big trouble.
The game's music was also quiet and eery, unlike recent action-packed beats, adding nicely to the atmosphere, and every room was very nicely detailed. It's quite possibly the best looking 3DS game yet, definitely better than the just-released Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D.
At the end of the demo, we felt that Revelations seems like a perfect return to the classic RE horror style. It removes some of the disliked elements of the first games like the fixed camera angles in favour of innovations from RE4 and 5, including the third-person over the shoulder view and some of their other conveniences, like grenades, as well as adding in completely new stuff like the scanner for more interactivity with the environments.
We've been waiting for something like this for a long, long time - 2012 can't come soon enough.