It’s about time we get back to true survival horror! I adore The Evil Within, and it’s review is an absolutely wonderful addition to BG’s Month of Terror. The Evil Within was designed to bring true survival horror back to life; and it did… with all it’s bloody, tense glory.
The game starts with the main character, Sebastian Castellanos, in the car with his two partners, Joseph and Julie. The three receive a radio notification of multiple homicides at a nearby insane asylum. Joseph looks to Sebastian, who is in the next seat and laughs, saying “It’s probably the ghost of that doctor that went schitzo and chopped up all of those patients.” (yes, I know how stupid that sounded and yes, I groaned). After arriving on scene, they find multiple empty police vehicles and decide to take the plunge and head on in.
What awaits on the other side of the door is a living nightmare, bloody, dismantled bodies scattered around the room, entrails hanging from a few of them. After nearly throwing up, they find a doctor as well as a security camera. Looking at the security footage a mysterious hooded figure cuts through three on-camera policemen with ease. Castellanos and the others look at one another, before turning around to see the hooded figure behind them (…yes, I groaned at this too). The true terror begins when Castellanos awakens hanging upside down in a room very similar to a butchers shop. A huge, deformed man cuts a body open next to Sebastian, and makes his way to the room over with guts in hand.
I’m not going to say anything more about the story, but let’s leave it at: It’s very good. Especially when compared to the stuff we’ve had to deal with from most “survival horror” games in the last several years.
The gameplay is… well it’s perfect. Never once during the entire game did I feel powerful and that’s a very good thing. I barely ever felt I had enough ammo to survive, and when I did, the game would throw a Sadist (the huge deformed guy, yes there is more than one), or something equally as horrifying at me to bring my cockiness down a few notches. There were a few parts however, where I felt the game was maybe a bit too harsh and unforgiving, but when I managed to push through it, I felt as though the accomplishment was worth the frustration. The Evil Within truly pushes you to your limits, not to be sadistic or to be hard for the sake of being hard, but because it’s true, honest, survival.
Headshots don’t kill creatures instantly, by the way. You have to completely remove their head before they die, and after that, you have to burn the body, or there is a possibility they will come back and get their revenge. They are very hard to kill, and more often than not you will only have a few bullets. Combine that with the simply ludicrous amount of traps scattered around each level and it’s a recipe for absolute panic (not at the disco, though).
Something I read about before I played the game was that the developers decided to make the entire game wide-screen, because they felt it would cause the player to feel more discomfort. I expected to hate this, and I did. I strongly dislike wide-screen anything, especially games. After a while though, I got used to it, and understood (liked even), the decision; it really did cause me to become uneasy.
The musical score is perfect by the way. Horrifying (in a good way) musical scores, guttural growls from undead creatures, and the screams of their victims are all perfectly done. And they’re terribly uncomfortable (in a good way, and yes I’ve said that already about something else) to listen to.
Most… screw it, all of the creatures are extremely well done, and not pleasant to stare or think about for long periods of time. The typical type have barbed wire, wrapped in through different bits of their bodies, some have it running through an eye socket and then running down, tying around their neck and it’s all very perfectly disturbing. Then there’s the sadist, which is creepy and always, always causes a panic when you find yourself coming up against one. And then there’s Laura. Think of the television scene from The Grudge, now picture it coming through a pool of blood instead of a television; good, now picture it with six arms for legs and screaming as though it’s being torn apart from the inside. Not once did I ever come across this horrible thing and not scream.
The first time I encountered Laura was toward the beginning of the game, where I was running down a hallway. When I heard blood curdling screams and groans, and saw six arms reach out of a pool of blood on the other end, I knew it was time to go the other way. However, it was one of the main psychotic sequences of the game, and the hall changed behind me. I was killed by Laura, put down the controller, went for a walk in the brisk fall air, lay down on my bed, and stayed awake for the rest of the night crying (okay, that was slightly over-exaggerated but not by much).
The Evil Within is an absolute masterpiece. It combines near-perfect challenge, good (albeit a bit dull) characters, a pretty fantastic story (especially when you search for, and read the collectables), awe-inspiring terror and horrific beasts, and grueling sounds and music, to create a masterpiece of a horror game. And it puts “survival horror” back on the map after so long a drought. I will say, it is very much like Resident Evil 4 (the only horror game prior to this that I truly enjoyed), though a bit harder and no AI to watch over (as the few characters that are in the game very occasionally, have well designed intelligence).
If you liked Resident Evil 4 and are looking for something to bring back that feeling of dread and terror, (especially during the month of horror!), definitely pick up The Evil Within. Just uh… don’t play it in front of children or anyone who’s easily disturbed or disgusted, as even I, someone who loves blood and gore (in games of course), was grossed out many times.