Resident Evil's in danger of spreading itself a little thin. In between this year's double-header of The Mercenaries 3D and Operation Raccoon City, it's easy to pine for a true, dyed-in-the-wool Resident Evil game – one that acknowledges that the shooting was once a sideshow, and that returns to the series' survival horror roots.
Some fans would argue that there hasn't been such a game for some time: Resident Evil 4, for all of its unquestionable brilliance - and perhaps because of it - has set the series on a strange trajectory, with subsequent games dissecting its corpse and trying to get a taste of its success.
Resident Evil 5 limped on with 4's action shooter formula, adding a partner into the mix but subtracting some of the spark, and lacking the indefinable magic lent by the series' then departed creator Shinji Mikami.
On the horizon there's Raccoon City, Canadian developer Slant Six's co-operative and competitive shooter: a game that runs with that shooter philosophy with such gusto that it finds itself in uncharted territory for Resident Evil. It'll find itself in a straight-up fight with Uncharted 3 and Gears of War 3 when it launches later this year; it remains to be seen whether Raccoon City's novelty will be enough for it to fend for itself.
Finally, there's The Mercenaries 3D, the 3DS outing that attempts to spin Resident Evil 4's post-credits shooting arenas out into a fully-fledged title. How successfully it manages this will become clear when the game finally launches later this week.
But with all this crackle of gunfire drowning out the more traditional creaking of doors and groaning of the undead, it's understandable that more attention is being paid to the 3DS' other entry, Resident Evil: Revelations. A return to the slow and campy dread of the series' first decade, it feels like the first true Resident Evil in some time.
How keen it is to cling to its heritage and drive home the point that this is a return to the series' roots is clear from the off. Jill Valentine, protagonist of the first game and here modelling another of her many redesigns, wakes in a room filled with thick oak furniture and ornate brass fittings.
It's the Spencer Estate of the 1996 game, or at least a version of it, recreated aboard a cruise ship in a location born from brilliantly twisted logic. After all, what's more spooky than a haunted house? A haunted house within a haunted ship that's sailing some haunted waters, is Capcom's charmingly strange reply.
Within that familiar setting, Revelations is a pitch-perfect recreation of the spirit of the original, and it doesn't skip any opportunities to reference its past. The room Jill wakes in is locked, a tightly fastened door control in one corner and a suspiciously closed wardrobe in the other.
At another end is a small bathroom, home to a shattered mirror and a bath filled with thick and dirty water. Drain it and there's a screwdriver, the perfect tool to unlock the door control and engage in the simple join-the-dots puzzle that lies beneath - but not before the monster in the closet unsurprisingly bursts out and lunges for Jill.
The panicked fire-fight that follows shows that, while Revelations is trying to evoke the spirit of the original, it's taken the right cues from Resident Evil 4 and all that followed in its wake. With the third-person camera switching to a first-person view once the gun is wielded - and dynamically switching back out when the fighting gets too intimate and a melee is in order - there's sturdiness to the combat, though it retains some of the awkward edges that lend a sense of vulnerability that's been missing from Resident Evil games of late.
Canny monster design plays to this. The enemies in Revelations aren't the shambling undead of old, and nor are they the mob threat of either Los Ganados or Majini. Instead they're a mutated mass of liquid and tissue, water-based Bio-Organic Weapons that pose a much greater threat than the cannon fodder of previous games. They're visually similar to Resident Evil 4's Regenerators, and they're just as tough to take down.
Ludicrously tight ammo supply doesn't help, and it's common to leave an encounter with empty chambers. It does contribute to the fear factor, though; every bullet is made to count, and even with the introduction of a shotgun and hand grenades later in the demo, the balance is kept tipped away from the player.
Pacing and atmosphere, the two pillars of survival horror, are also present in abundance. Exploration plays as much as part as evisceration, a factor that's helped along by the introduction of a scanner. It's a tool that's been lifted wholesale from Metroid Prime, though there's no denying it finds a snug new home in Revelations. Used by switching to a first-person view, rooms can be combed for clues, and precious hidden ammo revealed.
Atmosphere's delivered by some of the most handsome visuals seen on Nintendo's handheld outside of first-party efforts, a trimmed down version of Capcom's MT Framework engine allowing Revelations to fly as close to its console partners as you could hope for. Jill herself is a generous model - and Capcom has been more giving in some areas than others - but it's the location that's the real star.
The eccentric contrasts of the game's location are exploited well; cast iron walkways and stairwells blossom into regal corridors and, in one show-stopping moment, a lavish dining hall is smothered in a thick sea fog.
It's an atmosphere that's only occasionally pierced when someone's mouth opens. Resident Evil's soupy dialogue hasn't been watered down, and in the new character of Parker Luciani, Jill's endearingly chubby partner, it's found a new master of its own bizarre craft. His speech comes in a garbled voice that's placed somewhere between central Europe and a Carry On film.
But that's all part of the charm of Resident Evil, a series that's often delivered its scares with a sideways smirk. With the series shifting dangerously close to shooter banality elsewhere, it's pleasing to see that Capcom's not forgotten what made the game's haunted house formula once tick, and Revelations proves that there's no place like home.