Game Review: The Evil Within (2014)

Title : The Evil Within

Publisher : Bethesda Softworks

Developer : Tango Gameworks

Genre : Third Person Survival Horror

Players : 1

Release Date : October 14th 2014

Platforms : XBOX 360, XBOX One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and Windows PC

 

 

 

 

Towards the tail end of 2009, I started to hear rumblings that the Godfather of Survival Horror Shinji Mikami was working on a brand new Horror game. There was no title or anything just speculation. For those of you who do not know Mikami is the creator of the original Survival Horror game Resident Evil. A game in which I can remember being scared out of my mind playing in 1996 when I was 12 years old. By the way, look for me to shed some light on that game soon as the release of the HD remake of Resident Evil has hit most gaming download services (i.e. Xbox Live, PlayStation Network & Steam).  As information started to be presented via twitter and their respective websites, I really started to become interested in the game but wondered just how good it could really be. That was until they released a full live action trailer for the game.

 

 

Yes folks, that is a trailer for a video game. That video took me back to my 12 year old self playing Resident Evil. As the months went by and the information started to become less frequent I started to wonder if this game would become like the anticipated Guillermo Del Toro game Insane (which met it’s demise two years after the announcement of it’s development). But pictures and tweets from the developers reaffirmed the public that this game was IN FACT going to happen. After a few more months (we are now in 2012-13) we start to get some concept art for characters and locations but still don’t really know what the actual story is.  Are we in hell ? Is this like the movie Hostel where we are just surrounded by psychopaths that want nothing more then to drain us of blood and laugh at our screams of our inevitable death? After another trailer,  we got actual gameplay footage and we got to see the environment that will haunt not only or nights but our days. We found out that we play a Detective who has to solve a grisly murder. After I heard that and saw the videos I was completely sold. There is just something in my gut that when it sees something completely new and different yet with that slight touch of familiar, it completely takes me over.

 

 

 

 

After several release date changes ( to which I say if a game gets pushed back that doesn’t make it a bad game. I’d rather they take their time then push out a product to meet a deadline and it is complete shit ) Bethesda officially announced that on October 14th 2014 we would finally get our hands on this game. And for the first time in a long,  long time I went to a GameStop and picked up a copy at midnight. After a few minutes for the game to install on my system I started playing and was immediately sucked in. The opening starts with you, Detective Sebastian Castellanos and your partner Joseph Oda and Juli Kidman arriving at Beacon Mental Hospital. After a quick learning of the controls you find your way to the first cutscene that pushes you headfirst into the madness that this game will become.  During the cutscene you get first glimpse of a invincible hooded figure and then completely black out. Upon waking up you find yourself hanging by your legs with several bodies hanging around you. Through the bodies you can see an extremely large and terrifying man carving up what you can assume is a body on a workbench. You swing back and forth to reach for a knife or as I’d like to think of it a forgotten tool of said butcher. You cut yourself down and sneak past this butcher grabbing a key for a door that you must get out of in order to survive. In playing this part I didn’t realize that this butcher was coming around the corner just as I grabbed the means of my escape out of his bloody work room. I was met headfirst by this brute knocking me on my ass and crushing my head with his very large and intimidating boot. Count that as death number 1 for me

 

 

After that it was smooth sailing and I soon realized just how brutal this game was going to be. A few hours later, and many more deaths later, I’m eating way at this game. Several things begin to stand out for me. First is how little the ammo for the weapons you possess are found, and if you do find ammo you may get a round or two. Second is how the enemies in this game are truly out for your death. Now I have played my fair share of games that the enemies become weak and predictable. This game is NOT that simple. For example, the Sadist (gigantic chainsaw wielding badass motherfucker that had my number for a while) will listen for your footsteps. If he sees you duck through a window, hide under a bed, or take cover in a closet, you might as well kiss your ass goodbye and enjoy watching him impale you with that chainsaw. Third is just how polished and deep some of the environments can be. During the game you find yourself in a hospital room that is completely surrounded by beds. While there isn’t so much a clear cut “take this path” to it. You can hide, weave and run through the scattered beds in order to secure your survival.  The game offers up a different take on finishing off your enemies. Instead of leaving them there, which you assume is to rot or in the case of the original Resident Evil to disappear without a trace, You can light their bodies on fire. I would be lying if I said I didn’t completely enjoy that. Every now and then you might be able to set a few mobile enemies ablaze which adds to the fun of being a pyromaniac monster slayer. The game gives you a small variety of weaponry to dispose of your enemies. A pistol, shotgun (what horror game would ever be complete without a Boomstick), a magnum and a crossbow. All weapons have a few different options for ammunition with the crossbow being the one that has the most (explosive bolt, flash bolt, harpoon bolt, poison bolt, freeze bolt, incendiary bolt and shock bolt). The game also offers up traps that if disarmed will yield you parts that you can in turn make your own traps or make spare bolts. The game offers an upgrade system for your character that when accessed, through a mirror that takes you to a “safe” hospital, can improve your weapons, abilities and ammo with green gel that you find on downed enemies and in random jars throughout the levels. Keys and map pieces are found through the levels that are used in the “safe” hospital to unlock safety boxes, which can house green gel, ammo, health packs, map pieces or more keys.

 

 

The story in this game has a lot of twists and turns that in ways had me questioning what part in time this actually takes place.  Sebastian’s attire looks as if it’s from the 70’s but the more you play it seems the technology being used is from current times. Even the weapons seem to be plucked from random points in time. However that makes no difference in my opinion. I feel that if a game has a good story that doesn’t stumble over it’s self in order to have it make sense to the player. The game has to play well, if you can’t control the character well or there are the “invisible walls” that most of the older games had it becomes completely frustrating and it feels almost incomplete. And lastly the game needs to give you the feeling that you got your money’s worth and that you will want to give it another run. This game hits all three of those points for me. While it lacks the multiple ending fun of games like Silent Hill, I feel it still delivers in terms of trying to have a lower competition time and/or total times you died. I have suggested this game to quite a few of my friends and I have even had them screen shot their total completion time and total deaths. I didn’t do to bad for my first run ( total game time was 14 hours 48 minutes with 36 total deaths ) and it really shows how differently people play the same game. I’ve had friends have a lower time then me but an astronomical total death count. After all is said and done I would give this a 4.5 out of 5. While I was impressed with the game, story and play wise, I felt that there was just that one thing missing in it to make it a complete masterpiece. Maybe with the impending Downloadable Content that is due to come out this year that may change. But I guess we will just have to wait and see just how much more madness this game will give us.

 

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