The Evil Within Review

  • Developer:  Tango Gameworks
  • MSRP:  $59.99
  • Rated Teen
  • Released on November 19, 2014 
  • Platforms:  PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
  • Review:  ★★★☆☆

The Evil Within Review

Note:  Review based on a PlayStation 4 copy.

Praise the makers, Resident Evil 4 finally has a sequel!  After nine years, Shinji Mikami has returned to bring us back into the game world that received critical praise when it released in 2005.  Sure, it might be called The Evil Within, but don’t be fooled.  It features nearly identical gameplay as Resident Evil 4.  It features creatures that sure enough look like Las Plagas.  The main character certainly looks and sounds a lot like Leon Kennedy.  You will even get chased by a maniac with a chainsaw a couple of times.  We all loved Resident Evil 4, so why were we left feeling not as satisfied with The Evil Within?

The Evil Within puts you in the role of Detective Sebastian Castellanos as you investigate a gruesome massacre that occurred at the Beacon Mental Hospital. You and your partner, Joseph, along with new recruit Juli, are the first to enter the building.  You find one lone survivor ranting and raving.  Suddenly the world turns upside down as you are knocked unconscious and awaken to find yourself strung up and ready for the slaughter.  The world continues to crumble around you as you try to figure out just what is going on in the metal hospital, having to overcome a litany of strange gruesome creatures along the way.

The first place The Evil Within begins to stumble is with the story.  In trying to make a mind bending horror story, Mikami ended with the result of a narrative that is very bare bones by throwing you into situations without having any ideas of what is going on.  Every now and then you will meet up with your partners or one of the surviving doctors to to further the story, but it hardly explains anything.  The same can be said for Sebastian, who we know nothing about at the start but slowly learn about his tragic back story that has otherwise nothing to do with the actual game.  Sebastian himself is a fairly uninteresting character that you won’t feel to bad about seeing brutally killed time and time again.  For being a detective, it takes him until nearly the end of the game to figure out what is really going on, something you could predict a couple of hours in.

For both the game’s story and Sebastian’s origin, the main narrative tools used are documents and notes you find throughout the game.  Having written accounts be the backbone of filling in the blanks worked in 2005, but here it feels severally outdated.  Other survival horror games have shown us how to have a much better structure in the last few years, such as with Dead Space or The Last of Us.

One of the best things the game has going for it is the actual gameplay itself.  Once again, if you played Resident Evil 4, you will know what to expect.  The camera is thrown over your shoulder, which works a majority of the time, but can still get in your way at times as it zooms in to far on your back.  You will start off finding your handgun, and from there find the normal fare such as a shotgun, sniper rifle, magnum, and the Agony Crossbow which you can craft various bolts for.  You have a knife you can use to sneak up on enemies to silently stab them in the head, but inexplicably you cannot use the knife for melee attacks.

For a majority of the game it certainly plays like a survival horror game as Resident Evil 4 did, before the fifth and sixth iterations stepped up the action.  Ammo and health can be scarce, so you will need to search everywhere for stock, including breaking barrels and boxes.  Once you get further in the game, there will really be only a few points where you’ll need to conserve though as between all weapons you should have plenty to kill just about everything you see.  It had a good balance to please most horror and action fans

A survival horror game should be scary, but in The Evil Within, I simply was not scared.  Perhaps once or twice the game would make me jump by having a monster jump through a door to a room I had already cleared, but that was more surprise about an enemy spawning from no where.  The psychological aspect could have been played up for much better frights, but that was just another missed opportunity.  The game can be very tough, so plan to die frequently through playing, whether it is from having to figure out how to face an enemy, not being careful enough around a trap, or many other ways.  For instance, after my play through, I had died 92 times, with most people coming in around there are a bit over 100.

The Evil Within just wants to live in the past more than it should.  It is still an enjoyable game that is actually fun to sit down with while killing some monsters.  Yet, the story is so weak at times I found myself wondering how much longer there was until the end.  Do we need documents strewn about the game to tell us what is going on anymore?  Do we need to finish a game with a mounted gun and rocket launcher?  It is just full of outdated concepts that we have seen otherwise done much better in recent years.  If this would have released in 2007 soon after Resident Evil 4, perhaps we would have been more impressed.  Releasing now, however, it is an overall entertaining experience that is hampered by missed opportunities, meaning one play through should be more than enough.

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