Popular Posts

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Evil Within Review

The Evil Within Review
The Review Within

The Evil Within starts off with detective Sebastian Castellanos arriving at a mass murder in Beacon Mental Hospital. While investigating, Sebastian is looking at the security footage and sees the person who is responsible. We later learn that this individual is Ruvik and he is the game’s main antagonist. Ruvik looks up at the security camera and then teleports behind Sebastian and this is where the game starts.

            The game doesn’t hold any punches, and within the first ten minutes I am upside down hanging from the roof while a guy literally cuts someone in half. This quick transition to horror translates to the games difficulty curve as well. The game is extremely difficult (I played on the normal difficulty) and it actually feels unfair in the early game. The enemies are extremely durable and hit hard, so if you think you’re going to try and save ammo early game then you have another thing coming.  That being said, the enemies strength actually caused a real stress. This is both a good and bad thing, because early in the game I was genuinely scared of fighting enemies and I wanted the calm moments to last forever. However, by the end of the game I just felt exhausted.

            This brings up another point; while the gameplay is strong and can hold its own, the game is entirely too long. By the end of it I found myself fighting through waves of enemies just so I could get more exposition on what was going on in the story. The most stressful parts of the game were when Sebastian was forced to fight waves of enemies, because they could last over twenty minutes with no checkpoints.

            The development team was led by Shinji Mikama, who worked on the first four Resident Evil’s. The team claimed to want to bring back the original survival horror aspects of those early Resident Evil games. I will be the first to say that this holds true in some sense. The game really feels like the old Resident Evil games especially the fourth installment. Unfortunately, it seems that the strategic elements of those early games have been traded in for more difficult enemies. There is no inventory management which I felt was a strong strategic point in the Resident Evil games because it forced the player to plan their moves in the future, including when to heal and which weapons to use and save.

            On the bright side, this game is actually really creepy. There are a plethora of different environments, some of which are actually terrifying. A big props to the environment artists because I felt that was the strongest point of the game. Also the enemy design was fantastic and every boss felt new and more terrifying. All of this helps keep the game fresh even in the late game. The biggest problem was that I fought way too many bosses. Every other chapter there is another boss, which just ends up being a scary looking bullet sponge.

            The story was the strong point of the game for me. It started off strong and kept me interested throughout. Constantly Sebastian is in a different area and the player has a hard time figuring out what is real and what isn’t. Although it’s not a new story it was fun and exciting to unravel. Also, Ruvik is an extremely well designed antagonist, with a strong backstory that explains exactly why he is doing what he is doing. It also subtly leaves the question open to the player if they agree with him or not.

The strongest moments of The Evil Within were the chapters dedicated to exposition. This is because so many things would happen during these chapters, and I wasn’t stressed out from an influx of enemies. There is one moment that stands out to me, when Sebastian first meets Ruvik, he is led through a door, however when Sebastian gets to the door he is teleported back to the end of the hallway, and when he starts walking toward the door and tidal wave of blood washes him away, and he wakes up in a new area. Then, without missing a beat he says “Something fishy is going on here,” (I am a huge fan of cheesy lines in a horror game/movie). Moments like this are what make the sections of endless enemies worth it. The reaction of the player when something like that scene happens is the real payoff in The Evil Within. These moments can be seriously scary but don’t happen very often.

The game unfortunately does suffer from some pop-in during cut scenes and it only played in 30fps which is a minor problem, but in this day and age it should be better than that. They claim they wanted it to feel more lifelike but I feel they were just busy working on more important things than the frame rate and were scared of backlash from the PC community. Also there was one cut scene where one of the character models didn’t have any opacity maps, so I could see all the textures in his hair.

It is a shame the game fell flat in some sections because with portions of the game being so strong, especially the early game (ignoring the difficulty). The Evil Within could have been something amazing, and has potential to be Game of the Year. Hopefully in the inevitable DLC planned for the future, the problems with the game are fixed and the strengths are improved. I had a lot of fun playing The Evil Within and was actually scared during some portions of the game, but I feel the game adds a false difficulty by throwing waves of enemies that get bigger and bigger as the player gets stronger. I wish I could give this game a higher score because I feel like it deserves it for what it did right, but I cannot overlook the problems that this game has.