If you’ve got a Nintendo 3DS and signed into the eShop lately, you’ve likely seen there’s a game demo at your disposal. It’s pretty difficult to miss. After all, the Resident Evil Revelations demo is pretty much front-and-center once you load the main eShop screen. All you’ve gotta do is claim you’re 18 or older and you’re free to start downloading the first game starring a playable Jill Valentine since Resident Evil 3.
The demo begins with Jill waking up in full uniform in a guest bedroom aboard the Queen Zenobia, a luxury cruise liner. The cutscene is very brief — a few seconds at most — before you’re allowed to control Jill as she explores the room. A transmission from fellow Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance operative Parker Luciani, who functions more like Resident Evil 4’s Hunnigan than 5’s Sheva Alomar for the purposes of the demo.
After Parker and Jill decide the best course of action is to regroup aboard the ship, you’re put in full control of Ms. Valentine as you search for a way out of the room in which she awakes. The first touch-screen-centric puzzle is found here, as you find a screwdriver to remove the casing of a unit that electronically locks the only exit. You use the stylus to remove the screws and then again to rearrange an energy unit to activate the mechanism. Resident Evil games have always included these sorts of puzzles and the 3DS touch screen is the perfect format for much of what the development teams have traditionally incorporated in these titles.
The first enemy is encountered fairly early on in the demo. These abominations are called Oozes and the sight of one grabbing hold of Jill and attacking her with its deadly tongue, which sort of resembles Crawlers from Final Fantasy games, is delightfully disgusting. Once the Ooze latches on to Jill, you’ve got to mash the A button for dear life and hope it gives up soon.
The demo contains a few varieties of this basic enemy. One version features razor-sharp saws for arms and the other resembles the bulky, explosive Ganados and Uroburos found in the last two numbered iterations of the series. Herbs are generously sprinkled throughout the demo area, which heal Jill fully with the press of the A button whenever her health dips below comfortable levels. Splashes of blood on the screen will tell you what condition she’s in and, of course, Jill limps increasingly each time she’s hurt.
While health powerups are abundant aboard the Queen Zenobia, ammunition isn’t quite as bountiful, at least in the demo. None of the enemies dropped ammo during my playthrough and I resorted to a strategy I only employed in dire circumstances in Resident Evil 4 and 5: Shoot, stab, repeat.
The demo introduces the Equipment Scanner, an item that allows Jill to survey her surroundings in order to uncover hidden items. You can also scan your enemies in order to fill a gauge of sorts — each body scanned adds a certain percentage to a counter — but I was never able to kill enough foes to bring it up to 100 percent.
Upon finding your first hand grenade, a quick menu prompt advises you to equip it as a secondary weapon, replacing the ever-present knife whenever you wish. I was pleasantly surprised by this addition, having neglected grenades in most other Resident Evil games so I could stock additional guns in my inventory.
Much of the demo after you find the scanner is a game of uncovering ammunition and enemies, defeating the three variants of Ooze onboard the Queen Zenobia and pushing toward the rendezvous with Parker. While this isn’t a straight-up review of the demo — we’ll save that for when I get my retail copy from Capcom — I do have a few stray observations that are neither good nor bad from my short time with the demo.
After the excellent use of gyroscopic control in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for aiming, I’m a bit surprised Capcom didn’t put it to use here. After all, you’re given the option of moving into first-person mode whenever you whip out a gun and offered five different speeds for the aiming motion. Gyroscopic control seemed like it’d be a pretty good fit.
Jill doesn’t have the option to kick doors open as Leon and Chris did. Pressing the Y button upon approaching one opens it pretty quickly, but it lacks the thrill of bursting into a room and shouting, “Freeze! Leon S. Kennedy! RPD!” Come on, I can’t be the only person who did that.
You come across two weapon augment kits during the demo but there’s no option to combine them with either of the guns you acquire in the five minutes you’re allowed to play. The counter for these items is 2/40, so does this mean you’re required to find 40 of them before you’re allowed to upgrade one weapon? If I were to hazard a guess, that’d be the case.
If you’re a casual Resident Evil fan and you’re wondering if Revelations is worth the investment, this demo will be a very good indicator of whether or not it’ll be for you. The gameplay is quite polished and shouldn’t differ in the final build. Additionally, once you beat the demo once, you’re offered the opportunity to play at a higher difficulty, dubbed “Hell.” The enemies are stronger and there are fewer Green Herbs lying around, but oddly enough there’s more ammunition scattered about.
Gameplay-wise, Resident Evil Revelations seems to be a great mix of 4 and 5 with a few 3DS-centric kinks thrown in. If ammunition is anywhere near as scarce in the retail release as it was in this five-minute showcase, this may very well be Capcom’s answer to fans who have been clamoring for more of a survival element the series was known for before Leon faced the Ganados. The game is out in Japan Jan. 27 and is due stateside less than two weeks later on Feb. 7. Yours truly will be handling the review, so stay tuned for when I file my final assessment of the game.