Written by Jonathan Wojcik
REVIEWING RESIDENT EVIL: REVELATIONS II MONSTERS
After the lukewarm reception of the action-based Resident Evil 6, Capcom announced that the next game would take the series back to its horror roots, though to many reviewers they still didn't quite get there. They certainly have a horror aesthetic down, however, with perhaps some of the goriest and grodiest monsters in the series thus far, courtesy the "T-Phobos" virus....
First, let's check out this game's entry in the Resident Evil tradition of arthropods that are merely bigger than they should be. This is an excellent choice, a cool and interesting animal that the average person isn't usually familiar with, though it's barely been altered at all from the real thing. This is a lot of fun for those who never heard of them before and just kind of funny if you've had one as a pet. They definitely have a ferocious, alien appearance, but whip spiders, or Amblipygids, are pretty timid and delicate creatures.
THE GIANT WHIP SPIDER
I don't usually include the "zombies" when they're this visually basic, but you can see that the T-Phobos zombies are actually a bit ghastlier than usual, with overgrown lumps of wet and sickly looking flesh.
The action, this time around, takes place on an isolated Russian island whose entire population became unwitting guinea pigs in the development of T-Phobos, a virus that, for whatever reason, outright kills "women" and only mutates "men" after they experience extreme fear. This is a plot point relevant to the fact that both the main villain and most of the protagonists are female, though I do wonder if they just didn't feel like modeling some extra zombies.
The Afflicted were tortured extensively as part of T-Phobos experimentation, held in total darkness in a horrific prison complex to see just how far their transformation could be triggered.
We eventually learn that the violent, crazed Afflicted are only in the earliest stages of zombification, a process much, much slower than the classic T-virus. Eventually, Afflicted deteriorate down to more typical, slow-moving and dim-witted shamblers, and far more decomposed than the zombies we're accustomed to from this series. This is honestly what zombies should be all about, in my book; why have a dead body walking around if you're not going to give it a putrid mummy face?!
It's a genuinely disturbing visual, and it's all the more horrible knowing the sheer inhumanity that every one of these zombies represent. They really were on the right track to making this game more horrifying, but from what I keep hearing, they kind of blew it. As one reviewer explains, the game still puts so much power in the hands of the player that you end up feeling more like you're the one ambushing , stalking and terrorizing these poor ghouls.
We've seen a number of bloated, explosive mutants in this series by now and they've all been compellingly creepy, but the realistic tumor-flesh and headless upper torso of the Sploder are exceptionally unnerving, and this is apparently what happens when an Afflicted actually "dies." Its flesh just goes haywire attempting to reanimate the body, and the result is a highly explosive cyst that puppets it around like a whole new parasite.
Similar cysts are even encountered independently of Sploders, just growing in place like fungi and waiting to burst. Sometimes, they're also seen hanging off the bodies of regular Afflicted, and shooting them will not only blow them up, but scatter three new globs of mutated flesh around the area.
I'm loving that a Resident Evil virus finally generates something similar to real-world parasitic cancers, mutating human tissues into basically a whole new, distinct organism. That's disturbing AND realistic!
A little Silent Hill there, huh, Resident Evil? Not the subtler, classier aesthetic of early Silent Hill, mind you, but the more Blood and Guts feel of those later games that just didn't get it.
Fortunately, Resident Evil is a different series with a different intention and different atmosphere, and for Resident Evil, this kind of design works well enough. These are the biggest and toughest of the Afflicted, and that's pretty much it, but the metal helmets - which come in a couple variations - are a pretty cool look.
Wow. You know, this kind of monster doesn't usually do much for me, but something about those panicked, all-too-lifelike human eyes is enough to make this otherwise conventionally edgy design into something remarkably scary. You can feel the utter torment of this poor guy, or guys, and we can still see some of the unspeakable things done to them all just to see how afraid they can get. Previous games in this series didn't do nearly this much to explore the horror of pure human cruelty involved with the creation of all these "bioweapons." There were things like the Nemesis and Lisa Trevor and all, it was certainly there, but the emphasis of the story was always more along the lines of "kooky scientists making scary animals in test tubes" than "unspeakable violations of human dignity."
It's hard to say whether that realistic kind of evil really enhances the atmosphere and horror in an "entertaining" way or just plain makes you sad, reminding us that there are actually just people who would (and already do) really treat other people that way. It's a pretty fine line.
This is technically supposed to be a creation along the same lines as the Revenant, and the specific ones we see in-game are supposed to have been women. That's possible because the Revenants and Splashers aren't created by the T-Phobos virus alone, but a combination of the T-Phobos and Uroboros viruses, another slightly relevant plot point.
The Splasher doesn't look AS tortured and messed up as the regular Revenant, but the subtlety is in a lot of ways much more distressing, and that right arm is genuinely awful. The hand sticking out at entirely the wrong angle is what gets me, and yes, this is called the Splasher because that arm will be used to just hurl a big wad of infected pus into your face.
Also pretty awful, and perhaps even awfuller as a lower-quality image, the Durga is basically a Revenant whose Uroboros mutation has lead to the absorbtion and assimilation of multiple other Revenants and Splashers, including a mix of limbs from both. It also has a single, giant tentacle on top with a three-clawed tip that could very well be an attempt at a new "head," since we've seen that Uroboros results in more plant-like monsters when it runs its course.
I love this thing! It's another Uroboros mutant, but it's become just this giant, walking bag of meat with highly asymmetrical arms, and those "portholes" built into its skin are just awesome, like the whole thing is some horrible organic deep-sea diving suit.
It does just about the coolest thing something with a design like this could possibly do, too: it pulls squishy Uroboros parasites out of its body and just hurls them!
This is, unfortunately, one of your friends in this game up until he gets infected with a pure dose of Uroboros, and a senior of the Terrasave organization, a team of human rights activists - the kind who blow up monsters - which Claire Redfield has joined by the events of this game.
There's not much to say about monster-Niel; he's the Tyrant or Nemesis stand-in we get in every one of these games, though it's interesting how abruptly he shifts from still trying to save his friends to suddenly believing the virus is a "blessing" he must share with them.
Almost every Resident Evil game has the one monster that's almost stereotypically My Thing, and this T-Phobos bioweapon is right up there with many of the best mutant arthropods the series has ever presented. Look how wonderfully globular and lumpy this thing is! Check out how dangly and spiny those limbs are! I also love that this bloated mass is levitated around by three pairs of small fly-like wings, and I REALLY love how the head only splits into a toothless sock-puppet kind of mouth, though if you look closely, it's got the remnants of a humanoid face on the back of the head.
Glasp is supposedly a portmanteaeu of "glass" and "grasp," though it could have used an extra "S" if they wanted to communicate that. This is because it has the power to turn invisible, typically only really revealing itself when it strikes.
In this shot from the in-game model gallery, we get an even better look at that hilarious muppet head, the little tick-like claws sprouting from what were once human shoulders, and what appears to be a huge, gaping maw along what was the original host body's back, though it also has another, even more unsettling purpose. It "bites" with it, sure, but it's actually where the babies come out! Oh yes, it has babies, and when you see them, you'll know yet another reason this has to be one of my favorites. That's at least four Resident Evil monsters now that come from my second favorite insect group!
While the Glasp may be my personal favorite, I feel like the Orthrus is the coolest and most iconic monster introduced here, almost up there with the Licker. It's another with a strong "Silent Hill" feel to it, in this case actually moreso than later Silent Hill designs, to the point that its inclusion in this universe is almost a little jarring to me. That eyeless, nearly skeletal face and gas-mask-like muzzle are just SUCH a cool, eerie combination of features, but that's still only the half of what makes this enemy so unique:
Just when you're wondering how exactly this doggy thing is going to attack without any apparent teeth, its entire damn head flips open, like some nightmare pez dispenser, to reveal a set of jagged, steel jaws implanted in its neck! That is just plain NUTSO, and I absolutely love it to pieces! A part of me is kind of sad how usual it is for these monsters to appear in only a single game, and by the end of that game, they're presumably rendered extinct. On the other hand, seeing something like this only once ensures that it still feels special. Every entry has its own monster that would make the perfect "mascot," and Orthrus is the perfect face for Revelations II.
It's a shame I can't find any nice, transparent PNG models of Alex's various forms, but some concept art and screenshots should do well enough. Alex is actually the sister of the big bad guy Wesker we've known throughout the series, and the one in charge of the entire project that turned the poor, desperate people of a peaceful island into a biotechnological hell on earth. Once infected by T-Phobos, she goes from snazzy businesswoman to a decrepit, sickly figure that's almost witch-like, and looks extremely badass with that oversized breathing hose, hunched back and single, exposed eye. The in-game version, sadly, isn't quite as exaggerated as this design, but it's pretty close.
...And when the filthy rags finally come off...
Holy shit. I think this might actually be the scariest looking Main Villain mutation I have ever seen in a Resident Evil game, and up there with its scariest monsters in general. The face is SO perfectly haunting, the exposed heart SO unpleasantly sickly, and then she has to go and drag a bunch of artificial tubing around like her guts are hanging out.
...And THEN, Alex combines her T-Phobos infection with Uroboros, and in some ways she manages to look even scarier. Her previous form leaned more towards the uncanny and diseased kind of scary, while this is more along the lines of Nightmare Shadow Demon scary, but I think it works. You can see that her body is beginning to sort itself out into something stronger, faster and "healthier" in a wholly unnatural way, and the glowing red eyes are a tad corny, but they look nice enough against her darker, slimier corpse-skin.
This is a Resident Evil boss that doesn't grow a hundred feet tall or bristle with oversized talons and tentacles, and it's so, so much more frightening for it. Again, it's really too bad that this game failed on some levels to focus back in on horror, because they definitely rediscovered that spark in terms of creature design.
MORE HALLOWEEN FEATURES: