Fans have been clamouring for a 'proper' Resident Evil game for years. They want one that goes back to the series' roots and focuses on slow-burning tension and atmosphere, rather than the frenetic action and explosion-heavy gunfights that litter Resident Evils 5 and 6. Resident Evil Revelations is that game.
Set initially on a ship filled with brine-encrusted mutants, it brings back those long-lost feelings of isolation and dread that left the main series after the fourth game. It's so impressive that many (including us) feel that it's actually better than the recent HD console offerings.
"We never had the attitude that it was 'just a handheld game' compared to the console entries in the series," explains the game's director, Koshi Nakanishi, "so we didn't hold back in terms of volume and depth of content."
Nakanishi also held a similar belief that the mood of the Resident Evil series needed to return to the way it was back in the Raccoon City days. "Fear is the root and the core of the Resident Evil series," he tells us. "Speaking as a player, the original Resident Evil was the first title in which I saw the potential for games to be frightening. When we were first experimenting with the 3D capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS, we were very excited, as we saw the chance to produce a tense, scary experience with a realistic atmosphere that could make players feel like there could be something lurking around every corner."
One way the game achieves this is by restricting the player's view, rather than giving them the free will to check their surroundings, as has been the case in more recent offerings. The ship setting was key to this, with its narrow corridors making it impossible to see what horrors lay in store nearby.
"As you might imagine, we used the ship setting in order to create a constricted, scary environment," says Nakanishi. "Not only is the ship filled with narrow spaces, but it also really makes you feel helpless, as you are floating on the ocean with no means of escape. This seemed to us like the perfect setting for a survival horror game."
One of the greatest triumphs in Resident Evil: Revelations is the incredible graphical detail, with many declaring it the best-looking game on 3DS by far. This was no easy task, with Nakanishi and his team deciding to try to port the engine from the HD games over to the 3DS, rather than create one from scratch and risk losing that trademark Resident Evil feel.
"Most of the hard work was in porting and downsizing our custom MT Framework engine, which is designed for HD consoles, to work on the Nintendo 3DS," confirms Nakanishi. "It was thanks to the tremendous efforts of our technical team that we were to able get console-quality graphics from portable hardware." Pats on the back all round.
When asked why Revelations looks so incredible compared to other 3DS games, Nakanishi puts it down to a strong team effort. "Graphical quality is one of the most important things in a Resident Evil game, and was a primary focus from the beginning of development," he says.
"I think we were so successful with the graphical aspect of this game because the team was always very aware of the fact that we were developing on different hardware than usual," he says. "Everyone made a lot of effort to optimise the game for the platform, from the technical aspects of porting MT Framework to the design of environments and enemies."