The Evil Within
Horror games in the late 90’s brought forth a plethora of masterpieces which contributed to define the very foundations of the genre we know today. But over the years, the genre has been at a steep decline, seeing less releases each year. However, horror has steadily been returning through downloadable titles and some disk-based releases, most recently a title that has many people enraptured for the return of what made horror so acclaimed back in the day.
That’s why it’s very exciting for a horror junkie like myself to play a newly released title directed by the legendary Shinji Mikami, who is best known for creating the esteemed Resident Evil series, as he returns to bring a new entry into the survival horror family. With that sort of mastery working on this tile, nothing can go wrong! Well….
The Evil Within stars grim and hard-faced Sebastian Castellanos as an unfortunate police detective who finds himself, along with his longtime partner Joseph and rookie Julie, at a disturbing scene after receiving a call to investigate Beacon Mental Hospital, only to be caught up in something much more frightening. It’s a standard setting for many things to go wrong, and boy does sh*t hit the fan quickly. However, the game loses steam shortly after the introduction (very quickly).
The Evil With attempts to scare using shock value by throwing copious amounts of blood and symbolic images at your face rather than telling a developed narrative, losing itself in its own convoluted mess of what exactly it wants to be doing. There’s a severe lack of story with no sense of continuity the further you progress into the game. You never get any sense of what’s going on until you’ve reached nearly six hours into the campaign, and even then it only offers fragments that fail to offer any meaningful connection to the overarching story, tossing you back into a jumbled pool of incoherence. It’s incredibly hard to care about any of the characters since many of their personal histories are told through text or ignored all together, leaving you with an unsatisfying conclusion to their arcs, fates, and many of the games question unanswered.
Besides a lackluster story, the gameplay slightly makes up for the fact with Resident Evil 4 styled controls. Ammo is limited, forcing you to consider what action you want to take when confronting a group enemies or illuminating your lantern when in a narrow hallway that could alert others. Not only are there a range of weapons to select from (pistol, shotgun, rifle, and a crossbow) but there are also traps throughout the levels to help you gain the upper hand by disarming them and using them as materials to craft elemental arrows. The upgrading system in place also contributes to increasing your overall damage and health, but many of the skills that are available for weapons don't offer much as a reward because shaving off 1/10th of a second in reload time won’t make a difference.
The enemies you encounter between the fifteen chapters range from barbed-headed zombified villagers to six-limbed, crazy spider-ladies. The monsters themselves aren't particularly frighting, as deformed and blood drenched as they are, rather it is the close-quartered engagement that truly leaves you hesitant to proceed—however, that is a problem as well. Nothing is more frustrating when trying to aim down your sight in dark, narrow passageways, accompanied with the “cinematic” feel the developers tried to convey by using a widescreen ratio that covers nearly half the screen.
In terms of visuals, I can say without a doubt that The Evil Within is a beautiful game to play on the PS4. Utilizing dark and gloomy colors to fully enclose the player in its gritty environments, there is never a drop in quality as you explore tenebrous forests and decrepit manors. What’s more is the top notch deliverance of the soundtrack by streaming together a deep and fast-paced orchestral performance in the most tense settings, and somber melodies during the few moments of pacification; it truly is a treat to listen.
For all of the things The Evil Within tries to recreate by using Resident Evil as a paradigm for horror, it’s hard not to compare the two games as if they belonged within the same universe. It was more cut-and-paste throughout the reminiscent areas as its counterpart, and ultimately failed to stand on its own two feet. There were some tense moments here and there, though I felt that many of the tasks that were given to me were put there to keep me busy instead of explaining why I was doing them. If you’re a player that enjoys a narrative with a sense of purpose while playing, then this game is not for you. However, I can say that if you’re one of the buffs that enjoys a splatter-fest of blood, gore and horror-like elements, then this game is at least worth checking out
After taking into consideration what The Evil Within presented me with, I would have to deal it a final score of B-