Like one of its famously implacable boss creatures, the Resident Evil series keeps mutating into new shapes. It also has the uncanny habit of getting back up again when you think it's done and dusted.
The first Resident Evil Revelations was made for the Nintendo 3DS and released back in 2012, while Revelations 2 was a cross-generational console game that launched three years later. In the here and now, Revelations remains a very good handheld Resident Evil. If you find yourself situated in that part of the Venn diagram where Resident Evil and Nintendo crossover, you'll likely have encountered the first Resident Evil Revelations already. Not only is it one of the very best third-party Nintendo 3DS games out there, it also received an HD re-release on Wii U in 2013.
This is a honed, condensed Resident Evil experience that harks back to the claustrophobic corridors and overt lock and key puzzles of the earlier games.
Regular protagonist Jill Valentine takes point on this one as she investigates a mutant-infested cruise ship. Mixing fusty ocean liner fittings with state of the art maintenance systems and creaking metal gantries, the Queen Zenobia a worthy and refreshing fill-in for the haunted mansions that have become such a series staple. And yes, there are zombie fish.
Valentine has a non-playable partner to hand in the solidly built Parker Luciani, who provides dim observations and even less helpful combat interventions throughout the game. His main purpose seems to be to help drive the deliciously hammy story forwards and to lay out your present goal - which typically involves getting to a location and flipping a switch or finding a key to enable access to another part of the ship.
It's not all about this duo, though. Your perspective will frequently shift to a different pairing, which generally means Chris Redfield and the cringe-induicingly flirtatious Jessica. They start out investigating a different environment entirely, and their sections are generally more action-based, with plentiful ammo helping you fend off waves of mutated beasts.
The controls have a certain deliberate sluggishness that series fans will be warmly familiar with. Whoever you're controlling you're not particularly quick or agile, which adds greatly to the tension in encounters with your mutated antagonists. You're mercifully spared from the fixed perspective and vague aiming of the earliest games, however. It's possible to move and shoot simultaneously, with ZL bringing up the aiming reticule and ZR firing.
The main novelty to Revelation's control setup is the Genesis system. Holding L lets you scan your environment for points of interest - whether that's fallen enemies of hidden items. It works in a similar way to Metroid Prime's scanning system, though it's mercifully simpler to '100%' a level.
Resident Evil Revelations was built as a portable experience, and it remains a fine game to play on the Switch in handheld mode. Each episode is relatively snappy to play through, often lasting just 10 to 20 minutes, while you'll get a helpful 'Previously' cutscene at the beginning of every restart.
Meanwhile the game's graphics, while perfectly fine and sharpened up for more capable hardware, better suit being played on a smaller display where the basic textures and simple geometry are less noticeable.
Revelations benefits from the new addition of motion controls, though. Much like the Wii remaster of Resident Evil 4, you can opt to use the right Joy-Con to aim your weapons. It takes some getting used to, and it perhaps doesn't feel quite as one-to-one responsive as that aforementioned game, but it undoubtedly helps with lining up headshots - or glowing-red-pustule shots, as the case may be. It's nice to have the option, at any rate.
It's also worth pointing out that you're getting a lot more than just a re-heated campaign here. Besides the extensive extra costumes, levels and other unlockables available for both games, you're also getting the complete Raid mode. This is akin to a generously proportioned shooting gallery, allowing you and a friend (or stranger via online matchmaking) to run through a bunch of custom levels, blasting away various zombie enemies. Whether you take to this mode or not depends on your view of Resident Evil's particular brand of gunplay, but it potentially adds a vast amount of content to already eminently replayable campaign.
Resident Evil Revelations is a solid means of experiencing what was once one of the 3DS' most notable exclusives. It would have been nice to see some kind of effort put into presenting a unified front, with a common UI and a synced up approach to controls.
A certain sense of porting laziness aside, though, this is a fine entry which stands proud in a storied franchise. The original Resident Evil Revelations was a great 3DS game at the time, and it remains a surprisingly solid, refreshingly breezy experience here on Switch.