REVIEW: The Evil Within
Directed by Resident Evil creator, Shinji Mikami, The Evil Within doesn’t hold back one bit in terms of its horrific atmosphere and intense gameplay, making for an all-round terrifying experience. This is how modern survival-horror games should be.
After being called out to investigate a brutal murder scene at the Beacon Mental Hospital, detective Sebastian Castellanos and his colleagues Joseph Oda and Julie Kidman, are confronted with something much more sinister. Upon arrival, the trio witness bloody corpses scattered around the main hall, however it gets really weird when viewing the security camera footage: A hooded man covered in burn scars seemingly teleports in rapid succession to each of his victims, slicing their throats in the process. Clearly not of this world, this mysterious figure then attacks Sebastian, in which he awakes in a world filled with monsters, terrain shifts and a whole lot of WTF?
Right from the get go you’ll be introduced to some pretty intense scenarios, giving you an idea of what the rest of the game has in store. One moment you could be running frantically from a chainsaw-wielding maniac, who upon contact, will happily slice off your head. The next moment you will be, once again, running for your life, from a gigantic whirring spiky death machine (not its official name). The pacing is completely random – one part of the game could have you quietly exploring for items, and then all of a sudden, you will be ambushed by some nightmarish creature. This adds to the scare factor – not knowing what’s around the corner (quite literally) is genuinely scary, and is sure to keep you on your toes.
Spanning across a total of fifteen chapters, The Evil Within is quite a lengthy game that will have you wondering what the hell is going on. Everything is so surreal and bizarre, but a game like this should be just that – keeping you thinking and trying to make sense of a frankly disturbing narrative. After a few chapters, I came to the realisation this is very much like Resident Evil 4 in terms of its core gameplay, but with a higher emphasis on survival as opposed to practically unlimited ammo and health.
Playing from a third-person perspective, you will explore an array of locations, filled to the brim with an atmosphere that could leave the most hardened horror fan a little unnerved. Everywhere you visit, there’s always an uneasy feeling, whether it be the vacant halls of a hospital or the dark gloomy woods, amongst a range of otherworldly places, but I’ll let you discover those for yourself.
Enemies, otherwise known as “The Haunted”, come with their own unique abilities and such, making you question which types of weapon to use before each encounter. This can often promote panicked thinking as you might not have the right weapon for a certain enemy, resulting in an early gory death. You’ll start off with the Handgun, which isn’t the strongest but can pop off the heads of basic Haunted in a few shots. It’s not until later on that you’ll find the likes of a Shotgun, Sniper Rifle, and even a Rocket Launcher.
The most interesting weapon is the Agony Crossbow, which allows you to equip various types of bolts, including explosive, poison, freeze, amongst others. Each bolt has its own strengths and weaknesses, for example you could fire an explosive bolt, but if you’re too close to the explosion, you can take a lot of damage too. You’ll often find crafting parts, which allow you to create said bolts, so it’s advised to search thoroughly not just for crafting parts, but collectibles and ammo for other weapons. Disarming the bombs laid around will also grant you parts, although upon failure of doing so, that bomb will explode in your face.
There’s not much ammo available unless you do take the time to explore, and trust me – you will need as much ammo as possible if you want any chance of beating this game. Sure, you can melee some Haunted, but they will more than likely either: a) tear off your head, b) stab you in the face, c) rip your body in half, or d) all of the above. Most Haunted can be burnt with matches and torches, which is a quick way to get rid of the pesky buggers, however you won’t always have the option to do so. I always think of George A. Romero zombies when it comes to burning corpses so they don’t come back to life.
Throughout the chapters, you’ll come across jars of green gel – this stuff ultimately acts as upgrade points. In between fending off the Haunted and trying to make sense of the world, you will be given the opportunity to upgrade your abilities, whether that be stronger weapons, more health, ammo capacity, and or one of the many other options. Defeating as many enemies as possible is advised in order to get as much green gel as possible, because let’s face it – upgrades are pretty satisfying, and they make your life easier later on during the more difficult parts of the game.
The more basic Haunted aren’t the brightest as you can easily distract them with a glass bottle smashing against the ground, making for a satisfying sneak attack whilst they’re preoccupied, which instantly kills them without using any ammo – just your trusty knife wedged into their head. Sound can be a big distraction, for good or bad – if you end up making too much of a noise, you will be hunted down. That is, unless you run and hide, whether that be in a locker, wardrobe, under a bed, and so forth. This reminded me of Clock Tower – always hiding to stay away from unwanted encounters.
Haunted come in all shapes and forms, whether it be your basic zombie-like baddie, who aren’t too challenging but they do often come in large packs, resulting in often frantic gameplay. Other Haunted include the invisible kind, which are truly terrifying as all you can hear is the tapping of footsteps as they approach you. The real challenge lies within the game’s boss battles, including The Keeper, who has a safe for a head (yep) and is capable of regenerating itself after death. The most memorable boss that comes to mind is the “Spider Lady” – she will rip off your limbs upon contact, so it’s generally best to run if possible. Bosses are illustratively scary, but the fact most will kill you upon contact, is more intimidating.
If you were disappointed with the likes of Resident Evil 5 and 6, The Evil Within is sure to put your faith back into the survival-horror genre. Best played in the dark when you’re all alone, this game will honestly test your limits. This is how a good horror game should be – filled with disturbing monsters and a world that is constantly out to get you.
Available On: PS3 / PS4 / Xbox 360 / Xbox One / Windows PC