Resident Evil: Revelations' 3DS origins make for a scary-good HD port
Nowadays, Resident Evil games aren't very good. It's been hard for Capcom to recapture the atmosphere and awesome gameplay of Resident Evil 4, not to mention the tension of the games that came before that. Resident Evil 5 and 6 were much more run-and-gun-oriented. The action was turned up to 11, while the horror elements took a backseat. Even Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City was more Gears than survival horror.
However, there was an anomaly, an outlier, in this sequence. Along the way, the 3DS got the fantastic Resident Evil: Revelations, which not only pushed the graphical limits of the 3DS to new heights, but was also a genuinely creepy game. Why was that? What made Revelations such a unique experience among its console brothers? Short answer: It was due to the 3DS' limitations.
Part of what makes Revelations creepy is its corridor design. A big chunk of it is made up of narrow hallways, heightening the sense of claustrophobia. Add a bunch of nasty monsters to those hallways, and you'll have intense moments of either running for your life or tactically moving and shooting while trying to avoid the monster's deadly lunges.
Both Resident Evil 5 and 6 had much more open environments, giving you much more freedom of movement. With that freedom comes a sense of empowerment, and you immediately lose out on the powerlessness of being hunted by a deadly zombie, or whatever the enemies are these days.
But the 3DS' limitations extended far beyond just narrow hallways. The game didn't throw a ton of monsters at you at every corner. In fact, a lot of the times, these monsters would be hidden away in a seemingly empty room, only to lash out at you when you least suspected it.
That's not to say the 3DS perhaps couldn't handle more enemies on screen normally, but given how great Revelations looked for a handheld title, I'm sure monster count was one of the things that had to be limited.
Revelations also featured a monster-scanning component. While annoying for the most part, its rewards were enticing enough to keep players doing it. For one, scanning alive or dead creatures would fill up a percentage bar that would reward players with an extra herb for healing. This made some situations extremely tense, since some enemies needed to be scanned immediately after killing them or their bodies would disappear or, even better, some had to be scanned while they were still alive. Trying to scan an incoming zombie dog just as he's about to pounce was both terrifying and satisfying.
Outside of scanning the local wildlife, the environment was home to a myriad of hidden and useful items like extra ammo and herbs. It made players pick up their scanners as they roamed the hallways, thus making them vulnerable to attack. Nothing was more terrifying than turning a corner with the scanner up, only to be staring a zombie straight in the face. While this was certainly not a limitation imposed by the 3DS, it was definitely a feature put in thanks to its internal features like the gyroscope.
Both console games also had varying environments, with Resident Evil 6 certainly having the most variety. And while that's usually a positive for games, it's the secluded setting of Revelations that made you feel alone and helpless. The ships, Queen Zenobia and Queen Dido, were cut away from the outside world, which, unlike the various settings in Resident Evil 6, were devoid of human life and teeming with creatures that weren't always visible. Not to mention, this was all accomplished on a small screen.
One look at Resident Evil: Revelations and you'd think it was meant to be a console game all along, but I can't help but be thankful for its handheld origins, as I think its limitations have made it one of the best Resident Evil games in a very, very long time.