Written by Twisted Ideas
Shinji Mikami, creator of the Resident Evil series decided to spread his horror wing to more games. He’s worked on other horror games other than Resident Evil before but none as visually disturbing as The Evil Within. Channeling the feel of Resident Evil 4, The Evil Within aims to be a scarier and more serious kind of horror experience. Does Shinji Mikami and Tango Gameworks have what it takes to make a truly terrifying experience?
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
What is it about?
Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his partners are called to a crime scene at a mental institution. They discover that nearly all the staff have been brutally killed along with the dispatch officers. Sebastian catches the culprit on video monitors, a man in a white robe with supernatural powers who processed to take him out.
Castellanos wakes up in a slaughterhouse and after nearly escaping the collapsing Krimson City he sees people around him turning into powerful and grotesque monstrosities. The world around him keeps changing, taking him to across the city with no explanation. Castellanos needs to try to find his partners as well as answers to what is happening.
How does it play?
The Evil Within is a third person survival horror game with a focus on combat. Over the course of the game you will collect an array of weapons to deal with the haunted and other horrors. Ammo is limited, sprinting is short and melee is weak to give the game more tension. On top of the limiting nature of the combat you have to be aware of traps around the environment that can greatly harm you or set you up for enemy attacks. However, traps can be used to your advantage as enemies aren’t completely immune to them either.
There is a stealth component to the game. The haunted and other enemies are attracted by noise. They can be distracted by throwing bottles and you can sneak past or perform a stealth kill if they’re vulnerable.
The haunted can withstand tons of damage and only a critical headshot that destroys their head completely will instantly kill them. Some enemies will play possum and only stand up if you’re near or trigger an event. When most enemies are on the ground you can light them on fire with matches to kill them instantly. This will burn any enemy close enough and can be used to kill enemies regardless of their health.
Your safe haven is a mysterious clinic that you enter via mirrors. Most mirrors are found in marked doors and here you can upgrade yourself and collect supplies. Throughout the game you will find Green Gel off enemies and around the levels. These are used to upgrade yourself, weapons and carrying capacity. In the back of the clinic there is an office where you can view your collected map piece and use safe keys. Safe keys are found in hidden statues and opens safes in the clinic. These safes can contain large amounts of Green Gel and ammo that can be saved for later when needed.
How does it look?
I played the game on PS3 but the game looks much better on next-gen consoles and PC. The lighting and textures are better and has a better frame rate.
There’s a letter box on the top and bottom of the screen to give the game a cinematic feel but its a little distracting and takes up visual space. The camera is good for checking corners most of the time. When you’re too close to cover then you may have to move around and fiddle the camera around so it’s not obstructed.
The dismemberment physics look fantastic. You can see the damage of non-lethal headshots on enemies and seeing them with half of their face will moving violently is incredibly creepy. The only strange thing is when Sebastian falls to pieces when he’s killed by an explosion. His body doesn’t really move and all of his limbs just fall to piece onto the ground.
There is a lot of detail in the level design and the lighting effects. The world keeps shifting from something familiar to abandon hospitals and buildings in disarray with wheelchairs, broken glass and blood spewed around to slaughterhouses with prisons, furnaces and elaborate traps and sharp spinning objects. The lighting and shadow effects do a great job of show you what might be around the corner or something that quickly passes you by. These effects work wonders during stealth because you can observe blind spots without putting yourself in vulnerable positions.
How does it sound?
The game creates a good atmosphere in it’s sound design. Moments of stealth are filled with ambient noises and the sounds of the enemies. The enemies themselves make the occasional noises when undetected that is very unsettling when you’re trying to utilize stealth. The sound of tearing flesh is very prevalent throughout the game and is very uncomfortable to listen to.
The voice acting is that of a cheesy horror movie. The character show limited ranges of emotion and don’t really react to all of the terrors in front of them. Sebastian is worst for this because he delivers most of his lines dead pan. It was hard to figure out if there was something wrong with him or if very little phased him. He’s constantly under attack by these disfigured monstrosities and pools of blood and bodies and the only time he freaks out is when he’s in physical danger but not during gameplay of course.
What do I think?
My opinion of The Evil Within changed as I went through the game. It starts of tense when your ammo is limited and have to rely on stealth. Then there were several intense situations that were both intense, difficult and frustrating. Then a little more than halfway through the game, it abandons all of these great horror elements in favor for the action. Anything potentially scary is squandered by having to shoot you way through them. The dark and scary atmosphere sometimes disappears into broad day light and unexplainable monstrosities less scary than probably intended. Stealth was already under used at the start of the game and is basically non-existent near the end.
There is a lot to like about the game. The design of the early levels and how the game transitions between levels of bizarre are great. Despite how combat heavy the game is, the combat is fun when mixed with the moments of stealth, disarming traps at your own risk for bolt parts and dealing with combat heavy situations with very limited ammo.
The story is a letdown. It’s one of those stories that has a lot of dangling threads that you can read into and make sense of all of the strangeness. You get a lot of information about Sebastian’s past, the missing persons of Krimson City and Ruvik’s experiments. Unfortunately, the revelations makes things more confusing. There are a several unanswered questions and mysteries and Ruvik’s motivation is separate from the all of the information that you’ve collected throughout the game. Then there’s the question of why Ruvik let everyone continue as long as they did. You also learn about a third-party that is only going to be explored in the story DLC for the game which probably won’t make the story of the game much better.
Very little you did and saw has any meaning other than the moments when you discover pieces of this puzzle. There’s a lot of attention to a lighthouse and map fragments but ultimately has no purpose or meaning. You’re safe haven at the clinic shows you several missing persons posters and news articles regarding dead bodies to serve a mystery that you can figure out quickly. The final revelation of the clinic is interesting but doesn’t do or mean anything to the story.
Should you get it?
The Evil Within is a game with a lot of unreached potential. It starts as a solid horror action game and stumbles towards an ugly finish. The game is still fun as an action game but the return to horror that Shinji Mikami had wanted to deliver really missed its mark. Despite that, the game has great designs and set pieces that may get a scare from some players but I would recommend that you only get it if you find it cheap.