Created by the father of Resident Evil, Shinji Mikami, The Evil Within is a survival horror descent into madness following police detective Sebastian Castellanos as he’s pulled through a distorted world of nightmares and monsters. Building upon many of the survival horror tropes established by others in the genre, The Evil Within is an unforgiving fight for survival in a world that barely makes sense and tests the limits of the player’s skill.
Similar in look and style to Resident Evil 4 (Shinji Mikami’s last work on the series) The Evil Within pushes the horror elements further than most games in the genre, using the fact that the game is set within a bizarre dream world in a madman’s head to create scenarios that simply could not exist otherwise. Having been called in to investigate a brutal murder at Beacon Memorial hospital, Sebastian and his partners are suddenly thrown into twisted nightmare landscape inhabited by tortured souls.
Over the course of the game, Sebastian and the player come to learn that they are trapped within a shared Matrix-like world within the mind of the mentally unstable Ruvik, connected through brain sharing technology. The game draws upon the nightmares and fears of those trapped within the device, as well as the inner demons of Ruvik himself. The back story unfolds slowly, with small looks into Ruvik’s memories and shattered psyche rather than large revelations.
Whilst there’s a lot of mystery throughout the game, one that does add to the horror of not know what is happening and why, there are a lot of questions that will remain unanswered, with some of the bigger mysteries not solved until the very end of the game; or even until the DLC.
Despite some aspects of the story remaining unresolved, or simply unexplained, the gameplay itself is incredibly solid. The environments are are varied, ranging from gothic mansions, factories, mines, and even a ruined city, yet all manage to feel connected through the solid design that permeates the whole game. There are lots of different areas, some of which feel completely unconnected, yet all feel natural to the game because of the art style and attention to detail that is put into each location.
The combat mechanic will be very similar to those who have played survival horror games previously, with a small but varied selection of weapons to use. You begin your adventure with your police issue revolver before going on to find a shotgun, sniper rifle, and even a crossbow. The crossbow is one of the more interesting additions to the game due to its varied ammunition, such as harpoons, electrified bolts, freezing arrows, and explosive rounds.
Unfortunately, the game will make you count your bullets often as you come across little ammunition during your adventure, instead forcing you to rely on close quarters combat, sneak attacks, and traps. The lack of ammunition and addition of other means of combatting your enemies does add the option of a stealth playthrough that is missing from many survival horror games, meaning that there’s more replay options as you can try different techniques in the same level.
With collectables and upgrades scattered throughout levels, there’s incentive to stick with it even when things get difficult, building your character up slowly until you can beat the game fully.
If you’ve not played The Evil Within you should definitely take the time to explore the first game before jumping into the sequel.
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