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.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 was a cross-generational console game that launched a few years after the 3DS original. It remains a very good console Resident Evil and arguably the more interesting game of the two for Switch owners. This is the first time we've seen it on a Nintendo console, after all, with the original release making it to every console of the time except the Wii U. Beyond that, it's just a better game than Revelations. It's sharper and deeper, with a more sophisticated (and self aware) plot, richer level design and punchier combat.
As we've already mentioned, Revelations 2 emulates the first game's episodic structure, but the episodes are longer and more varied. This time Claire Redfield takes up the leading role as she finds herself imprisoned on a remote island, with help from her rookie colleague Moira Burton.
Series fans will recognise Moira's surname, and Barry Burton himself fills the second lead slot in alternating episodes as he investigates the disappearance of his estranged daughter. His own partner, and the link between these two temporally splintered storylines, is Natalia: a young girl with strange powers of perception.
Barry's story is the unexpected delight here, his world-weary but fiercely protective nature playing nicely against his vulnerable but gifted companion. Capcom isn't above referencing Burton's infamously cheesy one liners, either.
There's definitely something of Naughty Dog's The Last of Us to these Barry-Natalia sections, both in tone and gameplay, with moments of tense stealth interspersed with flashes of brutal violence in an abandoned industrial environment.
As this suggests, the second character system has evolved considerably from the first Revelations. In both Jill's and Barry's case, your partner isn't just a walking sounding board but a tool to be used, with a press of the X button switching perspective and control.
These secondary characters have completely different skill-sets. Moira is almost useless in a direct fight, but can use her torch to uncover hidden loot and blind enemies, and can crowbar open boxes and nailed-shut doors. Natalia, meanwhile, can use her powers to 'see' enemies through walls and locate hidden items, while her powers are also the key to some truly hair-raising encounters with invisible enemies. She's also small enough to squeeze through holes in walls.
Part of the appeal here is in making a mental note of level elements that you know your current pair can't access, and returning in the next episode with the characters who can. In many cases the locations have been affected by time and circumstance, and your path through them is rarely predictable.
You can even play through the entire campaign in local splitscreen multiplayer, though the second player will have to be content with clumsy melee combat and lots of running when the guts start flying. The game's murky palette means it can be pretty tough to play cooperatively on the Switch screen, too.
In general technical terms, though, Resident Evil Revelations 2 is on a much higher level than the original. The lighting effects, while hardly cutting edge, are much more effective at setting a creepy mood, while the textures are more varied and the levels stretch out more expansively.
Revelations 2 even feels a little tighter in the hands - perhaps as a result of the game being built with a traditional control setup in mind rather than for a handheld console reliant on quirky controls and an optional second Circle Pad. Simple things like selecting weapons and throwing sub-weapons simply feel more intuitive in Revelations 2.
Revelations 2 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 a solid Resident Evil campaign here. Besides the extensive extra costumes, levels and other unlockables available for both games, you're also getting the complete Raid mode. This section is 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 the already eminently replayable campaign.
A certain sense of porting laziness aside, this is a fine entry that stands proud in a storied franchise. Revelations 2 is a full fat Resident Evil experience with a neat partner system and some terrifyingly tense set pieces. There's a strong case to be made that you should ignore the original (especially if you've played it already) and simply purchase this prime slab of survival horror, but completionists won't be disappointed either way.