The Evil Within Video Game Review
Developed by Tango Gameworks
2014, Rated MA
Game released on October 14th, 2014
Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
I'm going to throw this out there right now: I'm not a gamer. Don't get me wrong, I like playing video games a lot, but I'm not one of those types of people to really care what types of system someone else enjoys gaming on (shocking, I know). I happen to have an Xbox One simply because the majority of my friends own one and I enjoy playing online with them. If they all had a PS4, I would probably have that. If they all jumped off a bridge, I'd be there right there with them. The point is, I'm just a casual gamer looking for a good adventure. And boy does The Evil Within deliver.
The game wastes no time in thrusting you right into the action. You are the character Detective Sebastian Castellanos, who, along with his partners, is called to the Beacon Mental Hospital to investigate some strange goings on. Soon after entering the building and seeing a mysterious figure wipe out a few police officers on the security monitors; you are then knocked unconscious and awaken hanging upside down in a room where a beast of a man is cutting up something on a table. You cut yourself down and the fun begins as you spend your time exploring this strange world, trying desperately to stay alive and solve the mystery of what's going on. Mystery world, you say? Yes, Toto, you aren't in Kansas anymore, and it's most definitely not the last time you see the stranger who killed those cops.
To put it bluntly, The Evil Within is absolutely terrifying. It's been a while since I've popped in a disc with both excitement and trepidation. Each chapter in the game (there are 15) is filled with something new and horrific for you to deal with, and there's a nice variety of challenges to overcome. You are provided with a sparse amount of weaponry and equipment that if used shrewdly is more than enough to get you through on standard survival mode (which I played). The trick of course is using it wisely, which is no easy task. But even as a casual gamer, I never once got frustrated as it's a nice balance of being difficult without feeling impossible.
The Evil Within world is a linear one. And while it's rather straightforward getting from A to B, lacking the open world of a game like Grand Theft Auto, there's still a ton of areas to explore within the confines. This is something I highly suggest you do, open as many doors and venture into as many rooms and destroy as many crates and barrels as possible, because that is where you're going to find the items you'll need most. With limited save points, those extra health boosts and additional ammo, matches and grenades will come in quite handy. Not to mention the bottles you'll need to power up.
If the game has one flaw, it would be its story. It's can get convoluted at times, as if it's trying to tell too many things in a limited time. Castellanos himself is a pretty cookie cut character, and his interactions with the other detectives throughout the game are very reminiscent of Resident Evil (which should come as no surprise as The Evil Within was directed by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikam). But at the end of the day, I give it a pass because at times the game is so scary.
Honestly, I can't remember the last time I played something - maybe Silent Hill - that frightened me as much as The Evil Within. There is a sense of dread and despair that permeates throughout, from the moment you enter that mental hospital's doors. I'm not just talking about the monsters found within either (although some of them are damning in their own right), but the atmosphere itself is thick with tension. There were times I would be doing nothing more than walking down an abandoned hallway, hyperaware of every sound I heard. You are constantly playing on edge, both hoping nothing jumps out at you and hoping something does jump out at you to get it over with already. This is survival horror at its finest.
The graphics are fantastic, sucking you into a world of darkness and despair. While it took takes a bit to get used to the widescreen presentation of the game, I found to my surprise that it worked works quite well to my surprise. At first it was is a bit frustrating, as it really does seem like you are missing out. But once I got into it, I dug it because it added adds to the film-like aspect of the game. The audio complements the graphics quite nicely, making excellent use of the surrounds. More than once I turned to my left or right looking for the source of the spooky sound coming from the room. Together, the two make for a rather unsettling experience.
It's been a good while since I played a game as effectively creepy as The Evil Within. There was more than one evening when I quit earlier than expected simply because my candy ass knew if I played longer I wouldn't be getting any sleep. With the perfect mix of strategy, game play, scares, and atmosphere, any horror fan who is a gamer as well would want to pick it up. One piece of advice: take your time. This isn't a run and gun type of adventure (something I learned quickly), and milk the experience for what it's worth.