I passed on The Evil Within when it was first released as I was balls deep in other games. Now that we are in what seems to be an infinite drought until May 19th I decided to pick up this Surreal Survival Horror game in the Bargain Bin for my PS4.
Story: Playing as Sebastian Castellanos, Ace Alcoholic Detective and all around gruff guy, you are called to the Beacon Mental Hospital where a distress call has been sent out as people are being slaughtered by someone or something. Upon entering the Asylum (because fuck backup) you are greeted with around 20 dead bodies strewn across the lobby in what can only be described as a massacre. Quickly you investigate the security cameras only to be immediately knocked out, by some guy who can apparently teleport, when you wake up you hung like a piece of meet upside down in a butchers room with dead bodies hanging everywhere… Confused yet?
Over the course of a solid 15 hour first play through The Evil Within makes many psychedelic changes teleporting you to different areas or changing your surroundings, making the story line seem jumbled or complex, but really its just smoke and mirrors to distract you from how lacking the story is. After moving through what can only be explained as a twisted dream, you find out that the world you are experiencing is actually inside the mind of Mad Scientist Ruvik, think like the movie The Cell where a detective enters the mind of a psycho murderer… or Inception…. only with a lot more blood. The fact that this is all taking place in someones mind actually can add to the fear aspect of the game as literally anything can (and does) happen and having to constantly traverse the unknown helps keep your first play through unpredictable…mostly.
Gameplay: Controls are fairly clunky and really made me feel at home as if this was an old Resident Evil title, however my nostalgia quickly wore off as it became more annoying, especially when attempting to pick up items. I AM LOOKING AT THE GOD DAMNED AMMO JUST FUCKING PICK IT UP!
The upgrade system is hefty and can change anything, from how much life/stamina you have, how much ammo you can carry and can even change how well your weapons work. In fact, to unlock all upgrades and weapons will require multiple play throughs, which is nice as the game doesn’t let you play on Hard the first time through. However I found little motivation to play again once I Beat It the First time as by the end of the game most of the “fear” was replaced with rage and such a heavy desire to just be done with it all. Of course if you are the type to love doing the same things over and over for little to no reward there are plenty of upgrades, difficulties and 2 lengthy DLCs to work through.
Graphics: Between a forced perspective and an over the top grain filter added to everything, it almost feels like Developer Tango Gameworks did everything to make sure the game didn’t look as good as it could have. I get the idea that they wanted it to feel like an old school horror movie but staring down a huge monster would have been so much more terrifying if it was actually filling my entire screen. Also aside from a few chapters you are mostly in deep dark rooms that all seem to mold together, yes creepy room is creepy. On the plus side Enemies and monsters are plentiful and rarely use the same models over and over again. Sure you will see some copies but its not nearly as over the top as with other survival horror games.
Sound: Voice acting was stiff and unimaginative but got the point across, haha besides most of the dialog was a series of grunts and screams as characters were thrown/knocked about by the various monsters. Aside from human voice acting the rest of the game sounds amazing, Monsters were terrifying both while attacking or while lurking around the corner and (with my favorite headsets on) being chased down by a sadist with a chainsaw never sounded so terrifying. The eerie sound work was easily the best part of the game and more than once made me jump at nothing.
Gripes: My biggest complaint would have to be how the game intentionally trolls you, like most Survival Horror games The Evil Within is full of “one hit kill” enemies. Normally this is fine and adds to that “stress” fear when encountering an enemy, but the problem I have is most of these situations only seem to happen when you are long past a save point, causing you to have to REDO all the exploring and collecting you just did. What it comes down to is I don’t mind instant kill enemies or making the game hard, just don’t make it hard and BORING. Have different death animations or have collectables stay with you after death or something so you don’t have to do the same thing over and over and just to be killed because the camera angle was stupid or you got stuck clipping on a chair.
There just isn’t enough in this game to make it stand out, from a lack luster story, UN-satisfying ending and clunky controls The Evil Within could have been so much more. Instead we are left with a generic gore fest that does have some shining moments and a solid “fear” aspect, but little more. The Evil Within is much like your favorite B horror movie, you enjoy it because its not as “clean” as the big budget titles but, just like that B movie, you most likely will find The Evil Within in the Bargain Bin.
I Beat It First.