The father of modern day survival horror is back with The Evil Within, a return to the tension filled madness that made Resident Evil 4 the classic it is. Kind of.
The Evil Within takes the dark oppressive atmosphere of Resident Evil 4 and some of the art design and mind games of Silent Hill and jams it altogether in a game that is more survival than horror. If you’re expecting something to rival Kojima’s recent PT, then you’ll be greatly disappointed. Think of The Evil Within like a giant haunted house full of tricks which it will occasionally play on you. Doors will slam, reality will twist and alter around you and you’ll meet some of the most gruesome enemies this side of a Silent Hill - but they all serve to add to the fun of the ride instead of outright scaring the hell out of you. It’s all about atmosphere here and The Evil Within excels at it.
Combat is varied with the usual assortment of weapons you would find in a Resident Evil game but manages to meld it with the environmental traps and stealth gameplay of The Last of Us.
The game has some of the most satisfying headshots I’ve played in a game. Don’t think that just because you shoot a a haunted in the head they’re going to go down. Some shots will just blow off bits of their juicy skulls as they continue to charge down toward you. You can still finish them off with a nice melee attack after a few shots to the head which produces gooey chunks which bath you in pink and red ooze - which is soo much fun!
Mikami here has done a fantastic job with enemy variety, which isn’t too shocking when we look back at the mans previous work. The Haunted (the main foes you’ll face, which are kind of like possessed zombies) come in all shapes and sizes. From burly clown faced madmen to what appear to be nurses wrapped in barb wire with hatchets. Most annoying so far have to be the invisible tentacle faced monsters straight out of Lovecraft’s wet dreams.
Story wise, I have no f*cking idea what’s going on, but I have theories. Small pieces of story litter the game like Outlast, helping you piece together just what the hell is going on. That said, I still have no solid idea what the hell is going on and I kind of dig that. I’m currently in chapter 6 of 15 and it just keeps getting stranger.
My biggest complaint so far has been on the technical front. idtech5 wasn’t an engine created to deal with the dynamic lighting at play here and it shows. The PS4 version struggles at times to maintain 30fps, I can only imagine how late gen consoles are handling this. To be fair to developer Tango, they’ve done a great job on the art front and audio design is superb. This is one title that was made to be played with a solid paid of headphones. The frame rate problems and small hitches don’t take away from the dreary and blood filled madness at display but I do hope that Tango can manage to patch the title to get a little better performance out of the game.
If you loved Resident Evil 4 and dig the aesthetics of anything from the Silent Hill franchise then odds are high you’re going to enjoy The Evil Within. No, it’s not the mind-melting revolution of survival horror that some may have expected but it’s a damn fun game that pushes dread into every carefully crafted digital corner. Just a tip, while you may think that the save room is a place of sanctuary thing again. Nothing in The Evil Within is exactly what it seems, and that’s perhaps the most fun of all.