The Evil Within is the latest game from the creator of Capcom’s iconic Resident Evil series, Shinji Mikami. In fact while playing the Evil Within, the I couldn’t help but feel like this is the spiritual successor to Resident Evil 4 – the sequel that should have been instead of the disappointing Resident Evil 5.
The survival horror genre has stagnated over the last few years, with a few notable exceptions and indie titles such as Outlast, there have been few stand out horror games – Enter The Evil Within. The game feels like a love letter to games of the past, all the while trying to push the boundaries of what makes a survival horror game. All of the classic ingredients are here – ammo scarcity, claustrophobic camera, a twisted world and enemies and a convoluted horror story are all thrown together and the result is an awesome new entry into the genre, even if there are a few problems here and there.
Without giving too much away, the games story sees players take on the role of Detective Sebastian Castellanos of the fictitious Krimson City Police Department (KCPD) when a routine call to a homicide case sees Sebastian and his two partners thrown into a world straight out of the mind of a madman, thing begin to go from bad to worse for our out of luck hero. While I found the story engaging enough, I didn’t feel that attached to the characters or their plight. Sebastian Castellanos is a wooden character who doesn’t seem to show any emotion regardless of what is going on around him – it starts to get a little jarring later into the game when all he can muster in response to the often ridiculous events unfolding around him is “Hmm that was weird”.
Thankfully the story isn’t the real appeal of the game – gameplay is king in survival horror and thankfully The Evil Within offers some of the best survival horror gameplay I’ve experienced since the old Resident Evil games and perhaps more recently EA’s Dead Space. Everything from the letterbox aspect ratio to the obnoxiously close up third person camera have been expertly designed to create a sense of tension and claustrophobia. The shooting mechanics are superb, lining up a perfect head shot and watching as an enemy’s head explodes is insanely satisfying. Defeating a boss or a horde of enemies with next to no ammunition also creates some of the most rewarding, but also the most terrifying moments in the game.
Moving around the world is a joy, every movement feels weighted and meaningful, sprinting from enemies is a great way to gain ground – however Sebastian’s stamina depletes at an alarming rate, meaning players must be careful not to over do it. Everything in The Evil within feels balanced, while the game may be gruellingly difficult in places – I never felt like it was impossible to overcome the various obstacles in my way, in fact when I did finally beat a boss after dying over and over; it only made the achievement more rewarding. The game also allows players the ability to sneak and kill enemies stealthily, however apart from using this to gain the advantage in an area swarming with enemies I felt like the game pushed me more towards open combat – enemies seemed to notice me and break my cover unfairly and after a while I gave up trying to play exclusively in stealth mode.
The Evil Within looks and sounds amazing on next-gen systems. The cast of characters are very well voice acted and really help immerse you in the world, despite the shortcomings of the story. In terms of visuals, character models are detailed and enemies are truly horrific to look at. Each of the environments you visit in the game are bursting with character and atmosphere, but there is also a lot of variety to the level design. Dank, dark basement areas give way to sun drenched church yards. The game isn’t without its problems however, during my time playing on PS4 I did notice a lot of slow down in areas, texture popping and sound issues also plagued my play through. I never felt like these issues really got in the way of my enjoyment of the game, but they were noticeable and pulled me out of the experience once or twice.
Overall The Evil Within is one of the best survival horror games to release in recent years. While it doesn’t revolutionise the genre, it takes the tried and tested mechanics and refines them to perfection. Technical and story issues aside, anyone who is a fan of survival horror should pick this game up.
The Evil Within is one of the best survival horror games to release in recent years. While it doesn't revolutionise the genre, it takes the tried and tested mechanics and refines them to perfection. Technical and story issues aside, anyone who is a fan of survival horror should pick this game up.