The Evil Within – Review – A Necessary Evil

PLATFORMS: PS3, PS4, XBOX 360, XBOX ONE, PC

As the year begins crawling to a close, we near the annual release of the big boys. New releases such as Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Far Cry 4 and many more. But this year, things are a little different. 2014 has seen a resurgence of the classic Survival Horror genre with titles such as Alien: Isolation and the emergence of a new Silent Hill helmed by renowned film maker Guillermo Del Toro and MGS creator Hideo Kojima. Among these titles is the return of the master behind Resident Evil 1 – 4 Shinji Mikami. Ten years later, can he reinvent the genre just like he did in the past? Or is his new IP, The Evil Within scary for the wrong reasons?

Graphics
The Evil Within is not a beautiful game, but that’s not to say it isn’t a good looking one. Environments shine through, with their dark, grimy features becoming almost as integral as the story or gameplay itself. Your journey through Krimson City will take you through a huge variety of environments, from dark swampy villages to a high-tech medical facility, and no two places feel the same. However, textures and pop in can become a problem. Up close, textures can be blurry and feel like that of a mid-aged PS3 game. Personally, I didn’t find it to be an issue, but nevertheless it can prove to be a particular eyesore.

Story
Set in Krimson City, detective Sebastion Castellanos is tasked with investigating a disturbance at a local mental hospital. When he arrives with his partner Joseph and rookie Kidman, they discover not all is as it once seemed.

Sound familiar? I thought so. The story is a retread of a thousand horror texts before it, and it’s not without it’s flaws. As I came to the closing credits, I had to ask myself what had just happened. I feel that with another playthrough, more might become clear; but that shouldn’t be the case.

That’s not to say I was confused by the story. I, like many others; was just hoping for more. A spooky, haunted house plot WORKS, but it’s not the game changer this genre needs.

Gameplay
Gameplay is where The Evil Within really shines. But really, what would you expect from the mind that brought you Resident Evil 4? The gameplay is smooth, with a good control scheme reminiscent of The Last Of Us. Much of the game gives you the option to either utilise stealth or charge at your enemies with full force, and with the arsenal the game provides, both are very capable options.

The game does a good job of managing it’s stealth sections with a clear indication of when you are and aren’t visible to the enemy. A small eye at the top of the screen scans when you aren’t, and stays open wide when you are. It’s a good mechanic, one a lot more games should take note of.

The game does get frustratingly difficult in it’s later levels. While the boss fights are intially effective at inducing fear and a sense of urgency, being forced to repeat them all at least once is not a good design choice. I found myself dreading them for all the wrong reasons. Instead of being worried or scared, I simply had to sigh when I saw I was fighting a boss I’d already ‘defeated’, for reasons unbeknownst to myself. Another issue is that if the game wants to ramp up difficulty, it just throws some more enemies at you at once, and with the limited ammo given to you, it becomes more luck rather than skill. Couple that with one hit kills and long loading times, and you have a significant problem that really brings the game down overall.

Verdict
I really like The Evil Within, but I feel like I can’t give it the score I want to. Underneath some problems, there’s a very strong survival horror experience I thoroughly enjoyed and want to recommend. But at the same time, repetition and gameplay issues can put a downer on the experience as a whole.

7/10
This is a game for people desperate for a new survival horror experience, but one they can feel familiar with. If you long for a game to remind you of the golden days of Resident Evil 4 and it’s peers, I urge you to pick this up and enjoy it’s 12-15 hour ride. If not, wait until you can grab it for cheap, as it’s still something I think could be greatly enjoyed given the right mindset.

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