The Evil Within Review and Gameplay
Delve into a beautifully-rendered take on the classic survival horror genre in The Evil Within.
The Evil Within is the result of four years of work at Bethesda Softworks. Many hardcore horror fans will be happy to know that the creator of Resident Evil, Shinji Mikami, was the director of production. As such, this game was highly anticipated by the horror game community. Does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out…
While investigating a grisly mass murder at a local mental hospital, veteran detective Sebastian Castellanos witnesses the slaughtering of several officers by a mysterious burned man in a white hood, and is knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he finds himself thrust into a strange parallel universe where the ground shifts beneath his feet and horrifically deformed humans called Haunted stalk him in the shadows. With limited resources, Sebastian must fend off the Haunted, confront the source of the evil that governs the realm and find a way back to the world he knows.
In The Evil Within, you play as Sebastian Castellanos, a hardened veteran detective. He is armed with a revolver with limited ammo, but this ammo can be replenished through upgrades. In order to safely progress through the alternate dimension he has found himself in, he must rely on the ever-changing environment and any items he may find. Alongside Sebastian are his two partners, the amnesiac rookie detective Juli Kidman and Sebastian’s longtime partner, the puzzle-solving, bomb-defusing Joseph Oda.
One thing that is very off-putting about Sebastian’s character design is that it is very anachronistic. The game is supposed to be set in modern times, but his clothes are almost 1920s-esque and he carries a flintlock pistol. Juli and Joseph’s designs are slightly better, although Joseph’s clothes just look like a more modern, polished version of Sebastian’s.
The vast majority of the enemy designs in The Evil Within appear to draw inspiration from the Silent Hill series, zombie horror, and the Resident Evil series, among other sources. They make no attempt to hold back the gore, and put all kinds of creepy on display.
The Haunted are undead monsters whose sole purpose is to destroy Castellanos.
The Haunted are the most common enemies in the game, and often appear twisted and macabre, with multiple gory slashes, pale skin and glowing white eyes. Some even bear stapled skin or nailed eyes, or barbed wire loosely wrapped around them. These monsters often attack in herds, so taking care not to get overwhelmed is your best bet.
The Alter Egos roam the hospitals where they were once treated, their illness having transformed them from the inside out
The Alter Ego is a gory, rotten, distorted humanoid, implied to be a patient of the mental hospital suffering from dissociative identity disorder. Symbolizing the alternate personalities of the patient, this creature has three heads; a relatively normal one, one growing from the chest, and one sprouting from the middle of its neck, bearing numerous teeth perfect for biting and slashing.
All your post-horror movie nightmares come to life in the form of The Sadist.
The Sadist is a monstrous, gory nightmare easily recognized by its Leatherface-inspired spiked mask and is the first enemy you meet in the game. This hulking horror is armed with a chainsaw that causes massive damage. Sometimes you can kill it, but others are invincible, forcing you to flee and hide, cowering until the threat moves away.
The Trauma is so disfigured it is hard to tell at first glance that it is humanoid.
The Trauma is a bloodied, blind humanoid monster with a large nailed post pierced through its back. The usually amble slowly, but take care not to make much noise when sneaking past one: it will rush at you with blinding speed, and the confined rooms in which they are usually found make it hard to evade them.
This Pyramid Head look-alike is known as The Keeper.
A painstakingly clear homage to Pyramid Head, the safe-headed is a Keeper is a hefty menace dressed like a butcher. In one hand, he holds his main weapon: a giant meat tenderizer. In the other, he holds a bag brimming with the leaking brains of his past victims. He has also been rumored to be the protagonist of a currently unreleased DLC.
In an interview regarding The Evil Within, Mikami said he wanted to bring back the true feeling of survival horror, and he definitely succeeded with the gameplay. This game puts the “survival” in survival horror, making you feel absolutely helpless at every turn. Many contemporary horror games allow you to go in guns a-blazing and annihilate every enemy you see, but all that will lead to here is a quick death. You have to conserve your ammo whenever possible, and some near-invincible villains force you to run or cower instead of fighting. As you progress, you can get upgrades, such as more ammo or more health. There is even an extra unintentional dose of horror: several players have found a cheat that allows you to play as a decapitated version of Castellanos.
The graphics are definitely a highlight of this game. It's clear that a lot of hard work and love went into polishing the graphics on this game. The gameplay graphics are of a high caliber, about on par with those of Bioshock Infinite, while the cutscenes are beautiful, especially the backgrounds. It’s clear that rather than make the characters the focal point and spend less effort on everything else, the graphics department went to great lengths to make the entire game aesthetically appealing in the context of the premise.
As you can see, there is a lot going on in this trailer. It takes on a cinematic style and peppers the audio with significant quotes from the game. This type of trailer is very engaging and invites the viewer to learn more about the game, as long as they don’t feel barraged by the stimuli. That being said, this trailer pulls that off fairly well. Additionally, it solidifies the idea that the game is very similar to Silent Hill, as the whole trailer carries with it a very Silent Hill-esque feel. Also, the review quotes in blood on the walls does slightly take the viewer out of the headspace the trailer is trying to provoke, but it is a nice touch nonetheless.
Here the viewer gets to witness some of the gameplay of The Evil Within. With beautiful narration, the trailer takes you through some of the ins and outs of the game. It highlights the strategies that are crucial to survival and gives a glimpse of some of the enemies in action.
Bethesda took a very logical approach with this trailer. If you want to prove your game is scary, show people getting scared by it. Some gamers might recognize this type of trailer from the Your Mom hates Dead Space 2 ad campaign. This trailer takes a very admirable approach, and is just plain fun to watch regardless of whether or not the viewer has any interest in the game.
The price for the game on Steam is about $60. This is a somewhat hefty price for most gamers. There are also two DLC plots available, costing about $10 each.
When asked why he wanted to work on this project, Mikami said that he was disappointed in the neglect survival horror was getting, and wanted to bring true survival horror back to gamers. Many people share Mikami’s sentiment, as was seen with the widespread disappointment following the news that Silent Hills was cancelled. For those people, The Evil Within is a breath of fresh air. The enemy designs pay homage, even if a little too much homage, to the beloved survival horror games that came before it, and though the character designs are uninspired and trope-based at face value, over the course of the game the characters are revealed to be more complex. Simply put, what The Evil Within lacks in originality it makes up for in passion and dedication to its genre.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
What do you think of The Evil Within? Was it successful in its mission to bring back survival horror? Let us know in the comments!