The Evil Within is that game everybody was waiting for except me. Designed by the famous Shinji Mikami, who previously worked on Resident Evil 4 and Dino Crisis, I could understand the hype. However, I’m not particularly fond of having hype for a game: that rarely works out well. When it died and everything went back to normal, I eventually wanted to give a full try, DLCs included.
The game excels at some things and falls down at others. The ambient is incredibly well achieved, building a custom atmosphere that hooks up to the player and forces it to stay alert. The use of lighting is excellent, playing with shadows to create those creepy, menacing maps. Zombies lurk around every corner, making those weird breathing sounds. The audio is also on point, helping up to build tension or even jumpscares. One thing I loved from The Evil Within is how it doesn’t relay just on jumpscares (of course there are some, though) but on the accumulated tension which every map creates.
Despite the fighting mechanics of the game, weapons are purely used for surviving. The melee attack of Castellanos is, why not, terrible and is rarely useful to kill a thing. Guns, the crossbow or the shotgun, on the other hand, are useful to slow down enemies or finishing them (this point depends a lot on the difficulty). Because it doesn’t matter how much we upgrade the skills, The Evil Within is a survival, not a shooter. Want to skip enemies just running away? Bad luck, buddy. Sebastian Castellanos has the stamina of a handicapped smoker 81 years old elder. Even when maximized. Fortunately, there’s always that calmed song in the mirror room to chill out:
The majority of bosses look amazing, mixing human forms with melted, ugly enemies. I found The Keeper very interesting, until I had to face him 1vs1 (I preferred his style setting me traps along the way). The concept of Laura was also amazing, chasing me while screaming terrifyingly. Can’t remember how many times she got me though, smashing my fragile head onto the floor.
When everything else fails, run! Ruuuuuuuun!
As mentioned before, the game difficult plays a huge role there. When playing on casual weapons are highly effective, as foes go down quickly. Stealth becomes something optional for fun, and headshots are raining every five minutes. A picture shows if we’re hiding efficiently or an enemy is looking for us, and everything goes smoother. That was the case for me: straight to the point.However, when finished I started a second playthrough in Nightmare difficulty (yep, I know there’s still the Akuma mode) and everything changed drastically: stealth became super necessary, and every bullet in my pocket was a God’s gift. I had to start luring enemies cleverly, and using items like the torch or setting fire to straw boxes. Matches became more important than ammo, and the list goes on.
Dark maps isn’t the only thing the game can brag about
The Evil Within has a main problem which got me in the first playthrough. It didn’t matter how much fear I suffered or how I struggled to finish the game: I wasn’t understanding a thing. So it eventually became boring. There was always that question around:
What am I fighting for?
The story is terribly explained, and even if it’s set up for the “intelligent gamer who will get it” it makes the game boring. Some maps have so many enemies that you end forgetting why are you making everything. But do not fret! When you understand the lore everything makes sense. You just have to… I don’t know, play the game twice or do some research on the Internet. In my case starting a second playthrough worked pretty well: I started to get the dialogues (most of them only make sense when you know what they are actually talking about). However, as every game out there, The Evil Within doesn’t manage to tie every knot: some things doesn’t make sense and can’t fit in the story, but thankfully the DLCs are there to help us.
Let’s talk about the DLCs
As you might know, The Evil Within has 3 different buyable episodes:
Shoutouts to the first Resident Evil tribute
I’ll merge the first two in a single block, as they basically are the same episode.
In the first two DLCs we control Juli Kidman, the junior agent who partners with Castellanos and Joseph. Having her as the main character, we learn a lot about missing parts of the story: what is she actually doing in all this chaos, who is she working for, what actually happens in some gaps in the main game, etc.
Both The Assignment and The Consequence have a medium duration of 2 hours when rushed, but can be lengthened exploring around and picking up the collectibles. The game style changes drastically, focusing on the original “no weapons” survival style: a flashlight and a very short sprint. At some points Kidman is gifted with a gun with some ammo, making us realize how desperately we need that weapon.
The addition of Shade, also known as The Lady Light is a great move that adds a lot of tension to the story. After doing some research, I understood that Shade is the manifestation of Rubik’s desire of the acquisition of a new body (as you might remember, he is only a brain inside the STEM system). Unfortunately for him, Kidman ends gathering resolve and finishing the puppet down with some bullets.
“I’m not running. Not this time.”
The final boss, featured by Slenderman, is actually pretty disappointing. The whole DLC pack is built around that character, but he ends being the classic “shoot at my hands which are protecting me” final boss. Not so rude with a shotgun in your face, huh?
Time for The Executioner!
Welcome to The Dark Souls of The Evil Within! The Executioner puts us in the “skin” of The Keeper. To shed some light, The Keeper is the combination of Rubik’s memory of the safe where he would storage his research and the fury for everything that happened. This DLC is nothing but fighting, and can be very satisfying. An hour is enough to clear the episode trough slashes of the hammer and RPG explosions.
It’s actually pretty funny to see how enemies drop tokens which we can spend to upgrade The Keeper. He has some amazing finishing moves to crush skulls and beat up bosses. How couldn’t I imagine that this was going to be so great? Fighting with Joseph is actually funny, because he doesn’t stand a chance. Of course the game tries to put it fairly, but we all know the thin glassed boy can’t stand a chance versus the clanky boy.
The executioner has some little lore to offer, but it’s easy to miss as we are busy crushing everything that crosses on our path. Still fun to play, though!
It’s really hard to just say: “I loved it!” or “It’s terrible”. The Evil Within has a superb ambient and level/monster design, but can become repetitive at some points when you’re just running around shooting to bad guys. Surprisingly I got bored the first playthrough, but understanding the story is making the 2nd one more interesting (+the difficulty, of course).
The Evil Within is a great game with its little flaws, but an amazing piece for your horror Steam/Console game collection!