The Evil Within – Review

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]After spending over 12 hours scaring myself silly playing The Evil Within, I’m left with mixed feelings. Fortunately for the fine folks at Bethesda and Tango Gameworks, most of them are good.

The Evil Within is the latest and most important chapter in the life of survival horror in recent years, with Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil creator) at the helm and promises of a return to “true” survival horror, things were looking very promising. Overall, The Evil Within delivered on those promises, but the game as a whole was held back by a few things.

Let’s look at the good first. The game is graphically beautiful, it’s displayed at a wider aspect ratio to give you a wider FOV and a more “cinematic” feel. Whilst it works well in those respects, the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen can take some getting used to – once you do, it feels completely natural and gives the game a small edge that others don’t have. There are times where you will come across wide spanning environments and they have done a fantastic job of making those looks gorgeous. The lighting really shines through when you see them – the lighting system also does a great job when the game is at it’s best… In the dark. One of the largest mistakes made by recent horror games is to set most of the game in a well-lit, usually outdoors environment. With a genre that relies so heavily on the environment to build fear and tension, it’s good to see that this factor has been taken well into account. I can guarantee that there are a lot of dark, creepy and uncomfortable environments, with an equally unsettling soundtrack.

These environments are also paired with a good selection of enemies. Whilst players will encounter typical standard enemies as they progress (not to be underestimated, I should add), the game is well populated with a varied group of bosses and mini-bosses. Each of these requires a different strategy to beat – and especially for the hardcore horror fans, they are each designed to be as delightfully gory and messed-up as possible, in their own ways.

Now, during the 12 hours or so it took to beat the campaign, I died just shy of 40 times. I was also playing on the easiest of 3 difficulties. Safe to say, even that difficulty was an immense challenge in itself. I found myself running out of ammo very regularly, having to be a lot more conservative than I thoughts, and cringing every time I missed a single shot. Ammo is so valuable that even missing one handgun shot is relatively serious.

The story of the game is a bit of a mixed bag; considering who the game is coming from, I expected a rather complex story. Throughout my playthrough, I found myself getting very confused at times, feeling lost and left behind. Think of it as feeling like a pensioner who’s trying to understand their teenage grandson as they explain how to work an iPad, and talking far too quickly. I felt like the game expected me to understand why things were happening, and I was just missing something. I brushed this feeling off during the game, telling myself, “Oh, it’s probably just one of those stories where you get to the end and suddenly everything from earlier in the game fits together, and I’ll be shocked at how I didn’t see them fitting together sooner.” Sadly, that wasn’t the case. I got to the end and felt exactly how I had done earlier on, the game was over, everything was resolved and somehow it all makes sense, I just don’t see how.

I thought I was paying attention to the story quite closely, but it seems certain things just didn’t click, or I didn’t hear or interpret something properly. I’m all for a complex story, one where you have to think, but I personally think it was just a little too complex, and could have done with a little more explaining. I got the general gist of the story by the end, the overall arc, just not the links between events that make me understand how I got from A to B. It wasn’t a game ruiner, but it’s something that held it back.

There were really only two more gripes that I had with The Evil Within. The first is far smaller, and that was the fact that I noticed a fair few frame drops here and there, which is a shame because it’s such a beautiful game. Again, though, not a game ruiner.

The second and more main gripe with the game is the chapter-end system. The Evil Within is broken down into 15 chapters, which in itself is not a bad thing. However, the changes between chapters pulls you out of the experience and I can only describe the way I felt about the chapter end screens with the word “cheesy”. You’ll get to the end of a segment, it’ll go to black and you’ll then be faced with a screen with a picture of the main boss from the section, a great big set of lettering informing you that you cleared the chapter, and a save option. The Evil Within is the sort of game that benefits from keeping momentum up, and these chapter end screens not only pull you out of the experience, but it puts a great big block in the way of the momentum of the game. It makes you stop and look at something that reminds you it’s just a game. This end screen isn’t even necessary, as it fades in the name of the next chapter over the gameplay at the start of each chapter anyway. You can save your progress at a selection of locations you reach during the game, so it would work fine without that screen, seeing as it’s only function seems to be as an additional save point.

All my gripes with the game described above are minor hindrances, it’s important to bear in mind. The game is a fantastic piece of work that is virtually all I wanted it to be, merely held back a tad by those small issues.

I was promised a true survival horror experience, and I got it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Pros

– Creepy environments

– Excellent tension

– Strong enemy design[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Cons

– Story is challenging to keep up with

– Unnecessary momentum blocks

– Frame drops[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_progress_bar values=”85|Story,90|Gameplay,95|Graphics,90|Entertainment” bgcolor=”custom” units=”%” custombgcolor=”#51db1a” el_class=”square-corners”][/vc_column][/vc_row]