There is a bigger emphasis on fear this time around on The Evil Within, a factor that seems to have been long put aside in most of the Resident Evil games outside of the very first one. In the Evil Within, the game encourages you to freak yourself out –with the moving shadows, the creepy music, and the disturbing monsters that you meet, the game is pretty much set up to make you dread every single unseen corner or turn ahead of you.
At the same time, it does not offer much with regards to how you can handle such things. Sure, weapons become available later on, but early in the game, you will be clumsily tossing bottles and hoping it distracts the bad guys. That is barely anything truly scary and finds itself more on the kinda-frustrating category.
What is The Evil Within?
The Evil Within is a survival horror game that puts players in control of Detective Sebastian Castellanos who, despite being on his way back from a previous case, answers the strange dispatch sent out regarding the investigation of a multiple homicide in a mental hospital. And since this is a horror game and you are going to a mental hospital, it does not take much of a rocket scientist to figure out where this is leading to. The goal of the game, as the genre states, is to survive. To do so, players must make use of a variety of hiding abilities, and later on, weapons, to defeat various enemy monsters that range from the humanoid zombie types, to the larger and more grotesque, mutated, zombies-with-giant-blades.
Much of the initial part of the game is spend hiding and being in stealth, employing the use of shadows and line of sight in order to keep the detective safe. Later on, you gain access to reliable weapons, and while ammunition is still scarce, having various ways to fight back makes some of the encounters slightly easier to deal with. Sadly, the whole thing feels a little too patched together and makes the gameplay experience feel jarring and unsatisfying.
How it Plays
If the game had been designed from the ground up to rely heavily on Sebastian's combat skills, it would have been great. But sadly, a good part of the game is about hiding. And while it has a workable and playable system, it is far too clumsy and unintuitive that most players will expectedly find themselves getting into game overs a lot all thanks to controller bloopers and other in-game hijinks. Simply put, stealth is not as effect. There's a delay between walking and ducking, you can be easily spotted, and enemies just seem to turn around just as you are about to gank them with a stealth attack (even if you are already counting their movement patterns).
The worst part about this is that enemies will automatically change their patrol patterns as you progress through a map. This is not triggered by time, or direct interaction with them. Even if you perfectly hide and sneak your way past them, they will still change what they are doing in order to make it harder for you to get to the goal. This is pretty ridiculous since it pretty much throws away any effort you put into making sure you stay out of sight and be in a strategically advantageous position to make it to the goal. Taking away the players ability to provide clever solutions is certainly an un-fun way to design a game.
The combat is a little better, though the aiming system suffers a lot from inconsistency. Sometimes, it feels just calibrated so well that pulling off several weak-spot attacks is easy. Sometimes you are constantly missing a huge target that is pretty much in front of you. The system seems a little far too unpredictable at times, but at least you have a means to take down some enemies. There also a few boss encounters that feels nice to finish later on.
Not the Game We Were Hoping For
As interesting as The Evil Within is, it falls apart real bad in several parts –like when the narrative finally tries to reveal the truth –the final explanations feel so contrived from the convulated steps it takes in order to get where it is. One minute you are dealing with mind-games, the next thing you know, you are dealing with an escaped recipient of some form of mental modification. There are jump scares and some great moments that will thrill horror fans, but for the most part, the game is spent making sure that you never get spotted by monsters – which is ultimately, very unclimactic for a game like this.