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The Evil Within Review

By Bond OO7

When The Evil Within was first announced I was very excited. I never got to experience Resident Evil when it was new. In fact I still haven’t played it. I never got to experience the horror that everyone else talks about so highly, I was too busy playing Zelda and Mario. So the prospect of history repeating itself but this time me being a part of the experience was very exciting to me. Survival horror games is a genre that I never touched before Xbox 360. Dead Space pretty much was my entry point into the genre and I loved it. They are scary but at the same time don’t have the look of reality to them like movies do (I hate horror movies, I’m a wimp). Anyway, games like Dead Space (1 and 2), Outlast and most recently Alien have given me the thrill of the horror without me having nightmares afterwards. So with The Evil Within being made by Shinji Mikami, the man behind the aforementioned Resident Evil, I was very excited to experience what people have raved about for as long as I have been a gamer. Going into a game with that amount of hype and expectation can be a very bad thing and The Evil Within unfortunately had that weight on it’s shoulders from me.

Resident Hill

Developer: Tango Gamework
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Format: Xbox One
Release Date: October 14th, 2014
Copy purchased
I started the game up and it instantly gave me a huge issue. Letterbox mode. Having thick black borders at the top and bottom of my screen irritated me for a long time. It took me until around half way through the game to finally get used it. But to begin with it felt like I couldn't see anything and with the camera being very close to the character it felt very restrictive.

Letterbox aside the game started strongly. The first chapter opened up many questions in the story and had you creeping around unarmed while a hulking maniac with a chainsaw hunts you down. The dark setting and music was nailing the atmosphere. Unfortunately once the chapter cleared screen appears that’s pretty much the end of any horror or suspense. From then onward the game as a survival horror game goes downhill very rapidly. By chapter 6 you are running around in broad daylight fighting hordes of monsters, which is not scary in the least.

Horror does peek its head around the door during the chapter in the mansion. When Ruvik appears and you have no choice but to run it is a fairly nerve racking ordeal. However this is the only other part of the entire game that has the traits of true horror. There is plenty of jump scares throughout the game but nothing that captures the tension of what a true horror game is about.

Don’t get me wrong, the survival aspects succeed where the horror fails. With ammo conservation being something that sticks in the front of your mind for the duration of the game. Many times I was out of ammo and ended up desperately scouting around for more lead to pump into my foes. The game also features a fairly limited crafting system in which you can craft various types of bolts for your crossbow. You can find the material to do so either lying around or by disarming the numerous traps that are placed around in an attempt to ruin your day.

The process of disarming said traps is mostly an easy affair. For thing’s like bear traps and trip wires it’s simply a case of creeping up to them and holding down a button. However the proximity bombs are a huge nuisance. It presents you with a clock-like dial, most of which is red with a small section of blue. The goal is to get the needle to stop in the blue section, however you only get one shot. Once the needle goes around once the bomb will blow up. On top of that it seemed to me that it wasn't quite in sync. It felt very much like I had to press the button before the blue section to get it to stop there. Which caused many a bomb blowing up in my face for a very long time. Much like the letterbox it’s a case of getting used to it.

Without any upgrades the gunplay is also a fairly frustrating affair. Countless times I would have my cross-hair dead on an enemy’s head and it would miss. Which in a game where ammo is scarce it’s a problem. So spending your green gel on accuracy upgrades early on is a must. Also melee combat might as well not exist. By the end of the game I had my melee damage upgraded to the maximum level which gives you 200% damage and I could still not come close to killing a monster in a 1 on 1 fight. However taking the stealth approach where possible leads to some easy instant kills with a knife to the cranium.

Once you get the upgrades the game gets a lot more enjoyable. Being able to nail critical head shots is a very satisfying feat. The sound of it is also equally satisfying. Unlike most other games, shooting the legs is also a very effective tactic. Doing so will make most enemies fall face first into the dirt (or blood in most cases) and then you are able to drop a match on them for a instantaneous kill. Matches are surprisingly useful in the game. If you can get a group with one on the floor then a single match can cause the entire group to be set ablaze.

The question that has loomed since the game’s announcement was “how does The Evil Within compares to Resident Evil?”. The answer is: very much so. The game plays almost exactly like Resident Evil 4. Whether it be small things like the way the camera is when you open a cabinet or the big things like the gunplay. The Evil Within very much feels like a sequel to Resident Evil 4. The look of the game however is a lot more like Silent Hill. With blood dripping from walls and grotesque boss fights it LOOKS like it would be right at home in the Silent Hill catalog.

Enemies in the game would also look right at home in Silent Hill. Ranging from the standard man with a giant nail through his head to a fat man with a chainsaw, the enemies in The Evil Within are a sickening sight. Most of the enemies are very easy to deal with and a couple bullets in their dome will see them not bother you again. However there is an enemy type that drove me insane. These enemies were invisible. You can see a shimmer if you look really closely but I could never see it until it was much too late. In the end I ended up just shooting blindly hoping I would hit them. Thankfully only a handful of these abominations exist in the game.

Other enemies that are severely annoying are the ones that carry guns. They don’t hesitate in shooting at you with their seemingly infinite ammo. Maybe it’s just me but I really don’t think this kind of game should have enemies packing heat. The ones with slow rate of fire weapons like the sawed off shotgun are bearable but when you get to the ones that are touting fully automatic weapons, it feels very unfair. Some of them even carry the same crossbow as you and will stick explosive bolts to you. These types of enemies I feel will be your biggest threat on Akumu difficulty (more on that below).

On the subject of guns there is a very laughable section of the game in chapter 12 that has you sitting on a mounted machine gun with no ammo limit or overheating to worry about. You then proceed to just mow down groups of enemies. This section right here is the single worst section of the game. I should never in this style of game be laughing out loud and this section I found myself doing so.

Bosses in the game are a very mixed bag. Some are fairly enjoyable to fight but some are just downright annoying. The one that sticks out to me in the latter department is the fight with the giant mutated dog. He likes to sit in bushes and just jump out at you. The lack of a dodge button is made very obvious throughout this fight and it caused me a great level of frustration. The two fights with Laura on the other hand were pretty well thought out fights in which you had to use more strategy than just dumping whatever you have into her. Baiting her around into various traps was a nice change of pace from the rest of the game. Unfortunately the final boss is nothing more than a glorified quick time event.

Story wise the game is pretty much left up to the players imagination. For 14 of the 15 chapters chances are you will have no clue what is going on. The final chapter of the game gives you just enough to piece together something for yourself, but there will be a lot of differing opinions on what actually did happen. I have my own theory but that could change with subsequent playthroughs of the game. I reckon the story will leave the audience very much split as to whether it is actually any good. Personally I thought it was pretty good. I don’t want to spoil the story for any potential players out there so I will leave it at that.

After having my brain well and truly twisted by the first playthrough of the game I jumped straight into the game’s daunting Akumu difficulty. On Akumu, one hit and it is all over. Anything from a flying axe to splash damage from your own grenade. This difficulty is not for the faint of heart. If you do decide the take the challenge, it is a very rewarding experience. You will die. You will get frustrated. But this difficulty not only gives you a sense of reward with each checkpoint, it also gives the game a sense of terror that the Survival difficulty was lacking. I have only played the first 5 chapters on this setting but so far it is a definite strong point of the game.

The achievements in the game are a very solid list. There’s only a handful of story related achievements. The rest are mostly secondary objectives to complete within a specific chapters. There are collectible achievements within the game but most of them don’t seem to bad to get and they also carry over to New Game +. The 2 big challenges within the list are found within beating the game on Akumu difficulty and beating it in under 5 hours. Both of these will take some practice and perseverance to achieve.

The Evil Within is a very good Action Survival game. Blending aspects of both Resident Evil and Silent Hill to form a solid game that should provide you with 19+ hours of entertainment and that’s if you just want one playthrough! Upon beating it you will unlock higher difficulties, weapons and a new game + option to sink your teeth into. So look no further if those are things you are looking for. If, however, you are looking for a deeply terrifying survival horror game then look elsewhere because there is barely any horror to be found here. Did it live up to my expectations? No, but it is far from being a bad game.

+Upgraded gunplay
+Graphics are delightfully gruesome.
+Critical head shots are truly satisfying
+Survival aspects
+Akumu difficulty
+The Mansion chapter
-Un-upgraded gunplay
-Certain fights are more frustrating than fun
-Horror is nearly non-existent
-Letterbox mode takes a long time to get used to
-Defusing bombs
-Enemies with guns

Score: 7/10

What I Played: Completed the game on Survival difficulty in 19:11:51 with 113 deaths and the first 5 chapters on Akumu difficulty.
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