Can you survive the horrid mindscape made of blood and brains? The Evil Within is a gruesome affair, with thundering abominations and lethal traps around every corner waiting to tear you apart. To build upon the rather depressing atmosphere, the color palette is drab and diluted, with monsters that are not unlike zombies. Make no mistake, the enemies are a lot more tenacious and intelligent than the ones from the Resident Evil series (from which this game takes its inspiration). On that note, the game feels and controls much like Resident Evil, only more tightly. This is survival horror in every name of the word.
The ever-changing and unpredictable nature of the environment and the violent scene transitions, combined with very little ammo, make it a harrowing experience. Most games have buckets of ammo or make the monsters into bullet sponges; this game does not. The controls are indeed quite simple and intuitive. One stick moves the character, the other controls the camera. The left trigger is aiming, while the right is shooting. The default camera angle uses an over-the-shoulder, almost “second person” view if you will; a standard affair these days.
What really made my experience enjoyable were the rare but welcome quick-time events (QTE). This means that you cannot die during a brutal cut scene because you failed to press “A” on time. The only time this comes into play is when interacting with enemies, such as when being strangled or prying open a door. The story’s delivery method is well done; it dives into the mind of the characters and gradually explains what the hell is going on.
During the course of the story, you’ll unlock the typical weapons that have been a staple in Shinji Mikami games. These include a boring but practical generic police revolver, a shotgun for going up close and personal, an ever-so-powerful magnum with a very tight ammo budget, generic grenades that go boom, and a sniper rifle for things far away. The only unique weapon is the crossbow, which has a lot of custom ammunition and is actually crafted from disarmed traps. Crossbow bolts come in a tasteful variety. The harpoons nail things to the wall, while the flash bolts blind your enemies. Then you have the shocking electric bolts, as well as the freezing bolts that put things on the ice. Around the maps, there are vials of green gel that can be used to upgrade the main hero.
Despite having an armory of guns, it’s often more useful to sneak around and stealth-kill your adversaries or distract them by throwing bottles. Sometimes hiding in lockers or under a bed is a more viable strategy than punching enemies in the head; they take a lot of punishment. This especially holds true in the DLC, since there you have no gun! Due to the nature of the game, there are a lot of collectibles and some interesting achievements, as well. A notable thing to try in the DLC is the greater game difficulties. I dare you to navigate the DLC in total darkness with only a flashlight to guide your way!
People lose their heads from time to time.
The game is very well put together with a decent run length and a lot of replayability. It took me at least 16 hours to complete the game and yes, I died a lot. So will you. I can’t really say that The Evil Within is a scary game unless blood, barbed wire, and gruesome death animations tend to gross you out. I dare say that the game uses the most awesome special effects and transitions I’ve ever seen in this genre. The soundtrack is okay for the most part, but it can get a bit grating and old quickly. Luckily it can be turned off. I only had one big problem: the un-skippable death scenes and camera interruptions whenever an event steals the focus. It gets on my nerves when I die three times in a row and I can’t skip the scene.
This is not a game for people with epilepsy or who are unsuited to view graphic violence. Due to the gallons of blood and occasional decapitation, let all parents be warned before purchasing this game as a well-meant birthday or holiday present!
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