I was hiding behind a wall in a hospital with my face pressed against a buildup of mildew earlier this year when a friends-friends friend came to my house. He sat by me and said,
“Hey you like Outlast, Silent Hill survival horror games of hiding, avoidance and having the capacity to defend yourself like a Care Bear in a Friday the 13th flick. Right? Why not check out this game called ‘The Evil Within? Look you’re in a creepy hospital and you sneak around a guy who kinda looks like Leather Face.”
“Looks like something I’d be into.” I said, but then I reached the end of Chapter One and the game yelled out, “Boring! Lets have a car chance cut scene. Meanwhile, I’m going to outfit you with a gun, a shotgun and a crossbow which shoots lightening. And now you’re in the woods trying to avoid Zombies while also avoiding traps which only a coke-head can have the clairvoyance to guess where they are in time.” This is when I stopped the game and realized I was simply playing another mock up of Resident Evil 4.
While everything in the intro seemed glitz and glamour. I can’t help but feel like I just allowed a restaurant chef to stay three months scot free and not once did I get a cooked meal. The Evil Within is the kind of game which showcased itself as the first chapter being the teaser and went on a wild ride of deception from that point on. Meaning, had I expected an RE4 knock off I would have been open arms to this idea. The game is to this day still pressed and re-re-released for nearly every generation of gaming consoles. Why might you ask? Resident Evil 4 had over the top Quinton Tarantino gore while also being serious about the subject matter at hand. Kinda B-rated movie-esk in an intentional, unintentional comedy. Resident Evil 4 was all about rescuing the Presidents daughter. While The Evil Within doesn’t really have that…. Instead, it has… Nothing…
The game is kinda like a developer telling a minion to make a horror game. At the end of contriving a video game based on a theme of horror it’s all just a soup mix of horror themes with no connecting broth on a toilet paper thin plot line.
The protagonist and all supporting cast are stock piled from a Comedia del Arte sketch. Examples include: A guy in a trench coat with gravel voice and possibly a drinking issue. Along with a clean shaven, perfect hair, glasses and thin tie guy clearly identifying as the smart one. As well as a woman who happens be there who’s main goal in life is to be the woman who happens to be here. While all three of our characters barge into the hospital they all get separated and then horror happens.
While the developer is casting something of a start to our horror flick, the minion chimes in, “Why not make it turn out some evil bad guy is rewriting reality which is why the horror is coming to life.”
While it all sounds good the end result turns into a game not having any continuity between these four characters. Like for example, I can survive through a horror infested forest and then zapped into Church, and then a sewer, then somehow zapped onto the Autobahn. Thus all I can do is go from scene to scene with no sense of direction or any resolve to conflict. It’s like at one point the minion wrote a whole story and handed it off. Only to find out the chapters spilled all over the floor and shuffled back into something of a stack of papers and called it good.
Fact being the amount of information the characters know of what is going on goes up and down from dialog between each other. Example includes our protagonist mentioning the antagonists name without ever being introduced or told in the first place. The difficulty curve is crap-tastic. One boss fight made me retry for nearly an hour straight. While the final boss was light like a firework on the fourth of July. Combat is just like RE4. While the game is outfitted with ‘wide screen movie’ black bars during game play to reduce visibility and also convince myself I’m seeing more around my character than if I was looking at a full screen.
Difference kick in when stealth is introduced and we all have to bust out our pre-gamed Assassin’s Creed back stabby attack. However, the game starts off with 99% of the enemy’s ambushing you. So it feels like the game is only really doing the stealth thing to get into the big boys club. While the game adds in character upgrades I quickly realize none of them had anything to do with stealth, it all seems like the idea was there to just say it was there.
Meanwhile the thing about upgrades is the fact it only helped out with shaving off pistol shooting by a second, reload time, or holding more bullets in a pocket. However, whenever I would break more RE4 crates open to find more upgrade juice I would feel disappointed because I didn’t need more upgrades. I needed more bullets. Apparently the Easter Bunny didn’t visit this game because the fact is you’re best chance for survival is shooting Zombies. However, the game really just wants you to backstab, or catch Zombies on fire, or straight up run for your fucking life. Which isn’t scary, it’s annoying.
So what I have here is a game which demands discipline from the player like a German whore house without showing any signs of discipline to itself. No discipline in design, combat, strategy, story. In fact let’s not give any amount of closure to a video game like this because we want intrigue. At the end of the day the game is like traveling through Montana and realizing you’re driving through fucking nowhere.