“There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” FDR’s most poignant statement rings true here, but The Evil Within gives way more things to be afraid of. Shinji Mikami‘s one of gaming’s most prolific developers thanks to this work on the Resident Evil series. His newest survival horror adventure adopts the best elements of his former games and offers in a brand new package that’s equal parts terrifying and enjoyable.
The Evil Within’s plot is pretty hard to fit into one simple summary. From the start of the game, you take control of a veteran police detective by the name of Sebastian Castellanos. Sebastian and his allies in the force respond to a distress call from an insane asylum. Upon their arrival, they come upon a gory scene and a mysterious individual with frightening abilities. Sebastian is forced to deal with all the puzzling horrors that populate his physical and mental being as he looks to discover this powerful villain. The story doesn’t become quite clear for a while, which can be annoying for some. Moving through each chapter means will get you closer and closer to the overall storyline, but getting there definitely takes some time.
The game’s mechanics should be a breeze to anyone who’s played Resident Evil 4 and its long list of successors. Sebastian is controlled from a behind-the-back, 3rd-person viewpoint. As you should expect, the aiming/shooting controls are mapped comfortably to the shoulder buttons. Sebastian’s arsenal includes a pistol, a shotgun, a sniper rifle and a very special crossbow that goes by the moniker of “Agony.” Shooting down dozens of haunting creatures feels very satisfying and visceral, as you have the ability to aim at different body parts. Performing one hit melee kills also feels great (in a sick and twisted sort of way).
The Evil Within ditches the run and gun gameplay of Resident Evil’s post-survival horror status and adopts its more traditional survival horror antics. Ammo is scarce, there are rare moments of sunshine, plenty of violent goons are on your tail and mind-bending puzzles await you at various intervals. You’ll no doubt get sucked into the madness that takes over Sebastian at times. Moving into the plane where you upgrade and save is a harrowing but memorable experience all unto itself. The rest of the game’s jump scares and intense boss encounters guarantee you’ll be on edge but also be in the middle of having fun.
The biggest issue with The Evil Within comes from its graphical hiccups from time to time. As cut scenes begin, it’s hard not to notice the texture pop-in and rough visuals. The dark interiors and heart wrenching environments fit the mood of the game, but they appear to be a bit rough and unfinished. The monster designs are nothing to scoff at though. Once you set your eyes on a certain deformed canine and relentless female creature, you won’t ever forget them. It’s just too bad that the graphics take a hit from time to time during the more involved scenes of the game. As for the sound, everything is just right in the audio department. Getting entrenched in this survival horror adventure feels even better with headphones on.
The Evil Within is a quality horror adventure that revives the feeling of dread and unimaginable fear that was present during Resident Evil’s early beginnings. While the plot takes a bit long to start becoming clear and the visual hiccups are damaging, the overall experience here should be experienced. You’ll want to discover every creepy crawly and disturbed nightmare that lies within The Evil Within.
Images: Tango Gameworks, Bethesda Games