Resident Evil: Revelations 2's tale is coming to an end, and with it, your stint on an island overrun with biological monstrosities. You've watched the crew escape a prison, clear a village of monsters, and infiltrate a tower filled with evil over the course of three episodes, and it's been a good ride overall, even if it's fallen off of the rails from time to time.
Episode Four begins as Claire and Moira finally close in on the person who's responsible for their horrible predicament, a meeting that's been building up since you awoke in a jail cell at the beginning of Episode One. It doesn't take long to find the so called Overseer, whom you meet just a few minutes after Episode Four starts. "We meet at last," she says, but no sooner does your meeting come to an end. Quickly, you have to sprint your way to safety as the tower collapses around you during a self-destruct sequence. Concrete and metal fall dangerously close as you race to the bottom, and apart from a few enemies--the tiresome invisible mutants from Episodes Two and Three--there's isn't much standing in your way except fate, as it turns out.
You arrive at a crossroads of sorts as the clock ticks down to its final seconds, but it's a false intersection with only one direction to take that won't result in a game over. This bait and switch is unfortunate, because it seems like the fate of the protagonists lies in your hands, but you don't actually have control over the outcome unless you're happy to call a "game over" screen an ending. The path that you're forced to take leads you to the inevitable conclusion of the first half of Episode Four, and though you still feel the sting of this deception as Claire and Moira's chapter comes to a close, another part of you is engrossed in the event that does play out. It's a somber moment that carries weight, especially after everything the pair have been through. More than ever, Revelations 2 commands your attention in this moment, taking an emotional toll that you won't soon forget.
When you retake the wheel as Barry, he's waking up from a dream, flashing back to the events immediately following Claire and Moira's dramatic conclusion. From here, Barry and Natalia continue their trek, and with Barry's finger on the trigger and Natalia's finger on hidden objects, it's back to business as usual. Before diving into the underground mine where your target's supposedly hiding, you need to cross a span of scaffolding, but gaps in the framework prevent you from simply waltzing across. To get to the other side, you alternate between Barry and Natalia, moving a platform from one spot to the next. It can be a tricky puzzle if you go through it on your own rather than with a partner, simply because of your limited perspective. You're always standing on the lower level whenever you pull a switch to move the platform, and this angle makes it easy to miss the movement of the platform overhead, which also shifts with every pull of a switch. Recognizing this behavior is the key to solving the puzzle, and while it's simple in theory, you may miss it in practice.
When you eventually make it across and into the depths of the mine, you're up against a thick layer of poisonous mist, in addition to the usual parade of zombies, who crawl and emerge from the surrounding dankness in an eerie fashion. You need to actively contend with both threats as you work your way towards the bottom of the mine, occasionally taking to higher ground in order to clear your lungs. Fail to do so in time, and you'll perish. You don't have much choice but to face this danger since you need to flip an array of switches across the mine in order to proceed. It's a hurdle that you've crossed numerous times throughout Revelations 2, but managing your timing and proximity to safety has never been as important as it is here, which makes it more interesting, at least, than other similar switch-based progression puzzles. The stop-and-go nature (looking for an objective, catching your breath, executing an action, and catching your breath) nearly overstays its welcome by the time you move on, but while it lasts, it instills an appropriate mix of suspense and mild confusion as you sprint for safety while attempting to simultaneously keeping track of your goals and surroundings.
Beyond the mine lies a surprise, and without saying too much, it's one that will resonate best with Resident Evil fans who've been with the series since the beginning. Unlike most of Revelations 2's locations, this place feels overrun by evil, rather than the product of it. Its claustrophobic architecture and array of creature comforts are equally cozy and haunting, a mix of emotions that has worked well for the series in the past. Unfortunately, this nod to the Resident Evil of old doesn't last long. A key here, some backtracking there, and you're on your way to the final showdown.
Revelations 2 hasn't had many boss fights over the course of four episodes, but at least they've been memorable, either for the action therein or the narrative that surrounds them. The final battle falls into both camps as you face your ultimate foe, a slinky boss who runs around on all fours, spouting hate for the person Natalia has become. Get too close to its body and it will strike you, knocking off a significant amount of health, or, wander too close to any of the poison-filled ducts that it's busted open and you may suffocate to death. With a boss that runs away frequently, and plenty of gas obscuring your vision, you have to keep your ears open for its vile speech every time it goes into hiding to guess where it will appear next. It's good that you can survive the fight without having to pray for the right kind of ammunition. Most weapons will do the trick so long as you have a few explosives and your aim is steady enough to hit the boss's weak point with every shot.
With the final boss down, there are two potential endings to behold. In one ending, you learn almost nothing new and the credits roll abruptly. It has value, but only in so much as it's a depressing turn of events. The second ending, however, introduces surprises and hope for your troubled crew, in addition to a second half of the boss fight where you get to attack both on foot and from the relative comfort of a moving helicopter.
The second ending is definitely the preferred one, but if you don't see it the first time through, be prepared to jump back to Episode Three, as it's an event there that determines how the ending plays out in Episode Four. Apart from the game telling you that you've earned the "worst" possible outcome, you might not realize that there's another ending, and frankly, it took crowdsourcing opinions to discover how to go about triggering it. What's frustrating is that, in that pivotal moment during Episode Three, you're expected to do something that you've been taught a particular character is incapable of doing. If you follow the rules, you'll know that you're missing out on the real ending when the game tells you, but it would have been so much better if the real ending were the only one.
The final episode of Revelations 2 has its problems, especially when it pretends that you can decide Claire and Moira's fate. However, Barry's portion offers just enough excellent gunplay and tense exploration to distract you from that misstep, all before sending you to a great final boss fight, and hopefully the good ending. Revelations 2 doesn't get a pass for obscuring the path to its most satisfying conclusion, but it gets credit for the excitement it ultimately delivers in the true end of this journey and the flicker of the next one creeping in its shadow.