By TheAcidSkull 14 Comments
Hey dudes and dudets, I've been gone for quite some time now, and I've missed all of my friends so much! And I figured, what better way to make an entrance than to to make a huge blog/review. Enjoy!
And please, share your thoughts!
The Evil Within
I don't know about you guys, but this year has been very interesting for me gaming wise. It seems that every game I got excited for was either mediocre or completely disappointing, whereas the games I barely even considered to be worth my time really surprised me. The Evil Within is, obviously, the latter. Upon initial announcement I was barely interested, but as time passed I started to warm up to it and as it turns out, it's one of the best purchases I've made this year. Yes, I'm not kidding, the Evil Within is, hands down, among the best 2014 has to offer. however, despite my enthusiasm, the game obviously has it's own characteristics, which may not be for everyone, and it as well as few problems.
Now in any horror game (Or movie as well), the presentation, at least, to me, is definitely one of the most integral aspects to captivate the player. Now at first glance, and this has been a common observation (or complaint depending on who you ask), The Evil within looks really rough. The models seem very...Stiff, the visuals are a bit smudged, and throughout the game you have to deal with letter boxing. For me, none of these things were in any way a detriment to the experience. Every single design choice I've encountered seems to have been placed there to further emphasize on the horrific elements. In fact, as I was progressing through the game, none of these things bothered me at all, because at some point everything clicked in just the right way and these concepts became a vital part of the game, which did indeed enhance the experience.
While the graphics aren't mind-blowing as some of the more recent next games games that have either been released or announced, The Evil Within is still a beautiful in it's own way. For starters, you never really stay in one area, instead, the game has you constantly alternating between different, well designed environments, all of which have their own unique feel and personality to it. What's funny though is that the tension never really fades, which is especially hard to accomplish, especially considering the fact that each environment may be drastically different from the other. Nevertheless, the game does suffers from some frame rate issues and occasional bugs; luckily, these moments are not common so they don't really interfere with the overall experience. The same can be said for the monsters, all of whom have unique and interesting designs to them. If you think the areas were fantastic you no know nothing yet. But before getting to the amazing freaks you get to shoot in The Evil Within, there are some things that needs to be said.
First off, the story may invoke some mixed reactions, or better yet it indeed has invoked some mixed reactions, which is understandable, because in certain ways it's not really particularly special. At the beginning of the game things are really confusing, since your basically thrown into a blender; however, as the story progresses things start to make a lot more sense; sure on the surface it may seem convoluted, but if you stay attentive you'll get the major plot-line quite quickly. Still, at the end of the day there are some integral unanswered questions, some of which I supposed are saved for the DLC or the sequel of the game. Also, the ending plays the "what do you think happened?"cliché, which is so typical for the horror genre these days. I was initially ready to tear the game up for that, but decided to give it time to sink in. A few hours later I realized that I was asking a few, but interesting questions about the game, and I was debating with myself on whether on what really happened. So while the story is sort of meh, it's definitely fascinating, and can certainly lead to a lot of possibilities, which is a plus. The point I'm trying to make is that, while it does fill a lot of cliche categories, it's still an interesting ride. And Speaking of cliches, Detective Sebastian Castellanos is you're typical badass cop who seems so cool it sometimes become humorous. I've said this before, and I'll probably say it a lot more times, as it is very typical for the Horror Genre(or Shinji Mikami), most main protagonists are very trite, and the Evil Within is obviously no exception. If you're looking for the Resident Evil cheesiness then you'll be a bit disappointed, because the Evil Within takes on a completely new shade of Cliche, which has it's own charm if you ask me. To be quite honest, excessive campyness becomes cringe-worthy for me so I honestly prefer the more "cool" and stern protagonist. ( Consider that this is completely subjective, so you, obviously, may not agree with me on this). What's more, the voice acting is competent, it won't move or affect you, but it isn't exactly bad. The best performance is delivered by Jackie Earle Haley, the voice of the main antagonist Ruvik. It's creepy, menacing, and all around cool if you ask me.
Now that that's out of the way, lest move on to more pressing matters, the gameplay. This game, as revealed by Shinki Mikami, is meant to revive the 3rd person survival horror genre, so the question is, does it achieve it's goal? The short answer is yes, it definitely does, but there are somethings you needs to consider first. When compared to games like silent hill, the contents of which may stay lingering in your mind for days without cessation, The Evil Within is not scary, not in the traditional sense at least. This is completely expected, especially in this day and age when kids, as well as adults are a bit more accustomed to graphic and gory imagery. That being said, the game is very intense. There are 15 chapters with the evil within and almost at the end of every single chapter I felt physically butchered. The game keeps you on edge 24/7 and it doesn't pull it's punches back. It's hard, and I'm not just saying that, I absolutely mean it. Almost every design choice made in the game seems to exist just to make things harder on you, which is fantastic if you ask me. Ammunition is very rare, which means that you have to scavenge the area multiple times in order to prepare yourself for what's to come. But lets say for the sake of argument that you do have a lot of ammo at your disposal; you'd think that the game may become easier, right? Yeah, no. While facing one regular enemy, called the Haunted, you still have to be very attentive on how you dish out the damage. If you decide to empty your gun into a few typical enemies, it means you screwed up big time, because a few steps ahead there's more waiting to chew you up and spit you out. The ideal amount you may spend on a single enemy is two bullets, and that's only if you're only using the hand gun. A new mechanic that has been introduced is burning your foes who are believed to be "dead". This is a very interesting and welcomed addition as it allows you to strategically take multiple enemies out together when overwhelmed and to stay attentive enough to discern when an enemy you though exterminated may come back and tear you a new one. Moreover, it's easy to mistake that the diverse weaponry would make things easier for you, however, they won't really help you out in the long run. Say you decided to ameliorate the situation and decided to use the shotgun excessively. Everything's all good, right? Wrong, what just became an easy kill will become your imminent death as you come across tougher enemies further into the chapter. Plus, you never know when these tougher monster will appear so wasting and collecting loot later may not exactly work in your favor. Like I said, moderation is key here, and the game won't forgive you if you violate it's rules.
The melee combat is perfect, but not in the sense that it helps you dominate everyone, but in terms of survival horror, meaning that the ability to punch things only exists to find a gap to distance yourself from danger and catch your breath after knocking your enemy away. I wouldn't rely much on it though, mostly because it'll most likely get you killed.
The intensity of the game is further emphasized by the stealth sections, which surprisingly become an integral part of the game at some point. At first, when you're not exactly confronted with multiple and various enemies, the stealth sections seem unnecessary and even dull at times, but as you progress you'll meet foes with different weaknesses, more durability, power and versatility, which will no doubt often exhaust your resources quite quickly, thereby leaving you helpless at the hands of different monsters. During such sections stealth is something you'll need to utilize more efficiently, because it'll distract your enemies long enough for you to look for more resources once you come out of hiding. However, despite my yammering about the difficulty curve there are ways in which you can emerge victorious even when low on ammo. The areas are designed in a way that allows the player to take advantage of the situation. The traps, specifically, can be more useful than harmful at certain times. The game also allows you to mold you abilities to your style of gameplay. Throughout the chapters you'll collect brain juice, or green gel (the games currency), with which you can upgrade certain abilities.
Unfortunately, though, there is one aspect of the gameplay I didn't enjoy. The puzzles are not at all challenging, which I wouldn't have minded if the trailers didn't tell me that there were some very "deadly" and "awesome" mind games. Most of the puzzles here seem less wit oriented and more focused on the players intuition. Often times the game will try to blatantly give you the answer when in reality it's trying to trick and misdirect you. This is an interesting idea, actually, which would have made the game much more intense, but it's underdeveloped and barely holds significant consequences.
In order not to bring down the mood and my enthusiasm of this game, lets get back to the more positive aspects. The Evil Within has many likable things, but for me, nothing beats the boss battles, most of which were really memorable. The title of this review isn't lying, friend, s death is indeed your most prominent teacher on how to win. I specifically waited until now to elaborate on this, since the boss battles are the segments forcing you to learn on your mistakes. It's frustrating, but in the good kind of way, because the more you die, the more you'll have to mix up your strategy in order to avoid another brutal execution. During one of these battles I had died at least 30 times because I each time I was doing something wrong, but, due to my attentiveness I altered my style of approach almost every single time, and in the end, I got an easy kill! Sadly, there is one particular battle which seems excessively severe and difficult for no apparent. I'd even go so far as to say that it's design was completely messed up. I mean, it's doable , but unlike the other encounters, dying wasn't the result of my missteps, it was the fault of the game for making my opponent ridiculously overpowered.
Furthermore, the sound design is absolutely superb. I can actually admit that it's the one few things that scared me. Every single enemy has a distinct sound, which is perfectly integrated into the gameplay. For example, as you are trying to distance yourself from the tougher enemies, you'll hear many indications of the impending doom that is approaching you. The banging of a giant hammer, the scraping of metal, and the constant creeping raise in volume as the atrocious beings slowly get near. Despite the fear, however, these sounds do help the player, since it helps us strategize and plan out our movies according to the sounds intensity. This isn't a joke, and if you don't believe me, I dare you to play the game by lowering the volume greatly or completely muting your TV. You'll find that this way, the gameplay becomes much more difficult and at times quite impossible.
In conclusion, The Evil Within may not be a perfect game, and while some areas need more developing and focus, it accomplishes it's goal of reviving the classic survival horror experience. It may not look like it on the first glance, but the Evil Within is an intense,atmospheric, tough, rewarding, and beautiful game with a lot old and new design choices blended together.