Capcom’s episodic zombie romp got off to a decent start with Resident Evil: Revelations 2’s inaugural chapter, Penal Colony, though it’s clear from beating Episode 2 that they saved some of the better content until now. Contemplation picks up directly after the brief shock players received at the climax of Barry’s chapter from the debut ep, where we discover that Moira and Claire were actually battling rotting fiends six months prior to Barry’s arrival, putting their fates into question. And, while Episode 2 fails to shed some of the technical issues that plagued its debut, it manages to improve in nearly every other avenue considerable.
Contemplation transitions away from the detention facility that defined Penal Colony, taking the action forward into new territory. Having escaped the facility in the previous episode, Claire and Barry, along with their respective partners, now find themselves capping Afflicted and munching on life-giving herbs across more urban environments, starting off with a fishing village and eventually ending up in the middle of a once-bustling city centre and industrial complex. Particularly striking is a spooky romp through a forest at the start of Barry’s campaign, which eschews action in favor of a more stealth approach as you attempt to avoid combat entirely.
Indeed, this is fairly indicative of Barry’s portion of Episode 2 as a whole, which offers a more methodical, slower-paced effort than Claire and Moira’s scenario. The younger Redfield sibling experiences far more action this time around, with hordes of infected encroaching on your position, leading to some adrenaline-fueled set pieces. Again, the partner dynamic works well here, particularly in co-op, as you capitalize on Moira’s flashlight abilities to blind foes while following up with a swift kick with Claire. Unfortunately, leaving your partner to the AI exposes its inadequacy, and many times while I was controlling Claire, Moira would be taking a battering from foes instead of evading attacks. It’s a shame too, as it makes the these action-packed sequences frustrating instead of exciting to play at times.
Barry’s mission as a result feels like a breather in comparison. Here, the action has long since passed, and you’re creeping through areas with Natalia, scavenging for hidden supplies while decorating the occasional wall with zombie brain matter. There’s also more emphasis on puzzles this time around, more so than Claire’s scenario. Pleasingly, the bestiary is much improved too, with invisible insect-like foes stalking you throughout various areas, which provide some tense encounters as you sense them with Natalia’s powers before pinpointing their location so Barry can mow them down. Claire also comes up against some tough-as-nails bosses, including an obese monstrosity that lobs fireballs at you, as well as a drill-wielding maniac to cap off Bazza’s campaign. These encounters really help freshen up the bog standard combat, and require a dollop of strategy to take down, harkening back to the older Resi titles.
Truth be told, ‘ol man Burton’s missions are infinitely more satisfying than Claire’s, who suffers from a lack of pacing and variation. The combat remains as solid as ever, although there’s little else to distract you apart from flicking the odd switch here and there. Capcom has seemingly struck an uneven balance this time around, with Barry’s campaign feeling more like old-school survival horror; by comparison, Claire’s adventure eschews much of any horror elements in favor of all-out action, throwing waves of grunts at you as you try to get from A to B. As such, repetition begins to seep through the cracks. Barry’s campaign strikes a great balance between combat and action, with the quieter, stealthier moments preventing things from getting stale. Plot exposition is thankfully far greater than the debut episode, and there’s lots of snippets of dialogue that punctuate the action, helping to flesh out each character.
In fact, there’s some brilliant narrative revelations—pardon the pun—to be found towards the climax of the episode, particularly regarding the game’s Big Bad, and the introduction of new enemies definitely improves upon the debut episode. Sadly, some of the frame rate hiccups are still to be found, and there’s a definite lack of polish to the game’s environments, although they’re at least far more varied this time around compared to the first episode. Raid mode will continue to eat up your time outside of the main campaign, thanks to Capcom drip-feeding us extra characters and stages with each episode, making for the most content-filled mini-game the series has seen to date. Indeed, this is worth the price of admission alone.
Overall, Contemplation is a solid continuation of Resident Evil: Revelations 2, and definitely the strongest offering to date. It’s improved enemy designs, stronger puzzles, and intriguing narrative supplementation makes for a compelling romp, even if the bland visuals and patchy AI mar the action at times. Make no mistake: you’ll definitely want to pick up Episode 3 after digesting everything this second chapter has to offer.