Resident Evil: Revelations 2 has been the surprise package of 2015 so far, serving up a survival horror experience befitting of the brand that it belongs to. Episode Three: Judgment furthers this fine form, delivering what feels like an extended highlights reel, demonstrating everything that makes Capcom's cult series great. It may look drab and dreary at points, but this is still the best instalment in an already strong series to date.
The fundamentals remain unchanged: you'll control Claire Redfield, Moira Burton, Barry Burton, and Natalia Korda through two chapters, attempting to evade the undead and escape from an island on which you've been held captive. The story's starting to pick up pace now, and because it takes place over an extended period of time (Claire and Moira's plot is set six or so months before Barry and Natalia's tale) it's constantly revealing beats that'll make you question what's going to happen next.
The fanservice is spectacular, too, with little nods to previous games that will ensure fans remain engaged. And this episode – which is the longest so far – definitely feels like it was made with veterans in mind. One sequence early on takes place in a factory, and is littered with puzzles that would have easily felt at home in the Spencer Mansion. These conundrums are just about smart enough to make you think, but won't test you too much, meaning that they don't break the pace.
And if hauling around generators isn't your idea of fun, there are several boss fights to make up for the downtime. With many of the same enemy types popping up multiple times, these set-piece battles add a little extra interest to the combat – even if they amount to shooting glowing blobs a lot of the time. One battle in particular – which follows a 'twist' so heavily signposted that you'll see it coming a mile away – sees you burning your foe to expose its weak spot.
This, of course, results in a gag about barbeques – or at least it should, given some of the amazing/terrible dialogue elsewhere. Even after three episodes, it's hard to believe just how silly this series has become, yet one sequence will see you operating a mincer, while the smug Moira casually makes a remark about "frickin' filet mignons". Even when it's trying to be serious, complete with slow walking and string instruments, it can't help but be hilarious.
But that's honestly part of the charm, and while this instalment doesn't really break from what we've already rated – there are some tense timed sequences, as well as one bit where Barry and Natalia are separated for quite a while – it does just enough to keep the core ideas interesting, and the story snowballing towards its impending ending. It's managed a decent cliff hanger at the end of every episode so far, and it's now three-for-three in that department – literally this time.
The biggest downer, then, is that it all just looks so dark and dismal. We've already commented on the release's far from stellar visuals, but a neverending sewer section represents the greatest case of brown and grey in games to date; you can literally sense the artists falling to sleep as they painted the muddy textures. At least the excellent Raid Mode has returned with more content than the average person has time to beat, with another new character for you to level, too.
A pastiche of ideas from Resident Evil's past, Episode Three: Judgment represents the best of Capcom's surprisingly enjoyable episodic series so far. Its ambition is modest, but the execution is good, with ridiculous plot beats, larger than life boss fights, and solid puzzles. Only the dismal environments let this instalment down, which are more lifeless than the corpses that you'll be pumping full of lead.