Publisher: Bethesda

Developer: Tango Gameworks

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Release date: Available Now

 

For the most ardent fans of Resident Evil, news of the The Evil Within's eventual arrival was kind of a big deal. Bethesda’s horror game is directed by Shinji Mikami, who created the first Resident Evil, which he followed up with Resident Evil 2Resident Evil: Code Veronica, and nine years later Resident Evil 4. To say Mikami revolutionized the survival horror genre would be an accurate statement, hence the excitement for The Evil Within.

The Evil Within opens with the psychologically wrecked detective Sebastian Castellanos arriving at a mental hospital surrounded by the flash and wail of police cars and ambulances. Inside the entrance, Castellanos finds a plethora of bloodied, slumped corpses and it doesn't take long for the gamer to start to feel a sense of dread, something Mikami is so adept at doing. The Evil Within is a slow-burning tension where you feel some kind of monstrosity is lurking around every corner. Gore is the name of the game here, where sacrifices tied up in bags give way to monsters that rip off their own heads. While such grotesque imagery isn't inherently frightening it immediately sets the tone of the world and doesn't let up through Castellanos' entire journey.

As you play along it becomes apparent that The Evil Within is a mix of survival horror action with stealth. You’ll spend a lot of time sneaking around, trying your best to slip past or behind enemies and dispatch them quietly with attacks. You can spend hours in some chapters scoping out the area, investigating houses and doing your best to pull some weaponry together. In the early stages of the game you’re pitifully weak, consigned to hiding under beds and in lockers in order to survive. Running away can be a good option, but Castellanos seems to suffer from asthma, to the point that after two or three seconds of sprinting he has to stop and take a few deep breaths. The enemies, that you'll have to vanquish are no slouches. Even your most basic rank-and-file zombie monster takes two shots to the head or more to the body to go down. Melee attacks aren’t so much a last ditch defense as an utter waste of time as you'll come up on the losing end more times than not. Bigger boss enemies can take even more damage. While extremely challenging this is also one of the more frustrating things of the game as ammo is deliberately scarce and each enemy can absorb a lot more than you can afford to lose. Clearly the game has been designed for the most accomplished and hardcore horror game fans, but less so for players who haven't perfected their headshot game. The Evil Within boasts some really twisted monsters that run amok, through each of the game's 16 lingering chapters. You'll see creepy things like a soiled doll, a lank-haired monster woman who walks on all fours and a butcher's slab for carving humans which are reminiscent of something you'd typically see in a George Romero movie. Even Castellanos' safe place where you can momentarily retreat to save progress reeks of madness. The chair in which you must sit in order to 'upgrade' Castellanos' abilities and weaponry has leather restraining straps; a wire helmet descends onto his head as if about to perform a lobotomy.

The XXL Endgame

The Evil Within revels in classic survival horror gameplay with a narrative that will keep you on edge. While the camera can be unwieldy and the control scheme awkward at times, The Evil Within still manages to leave it's mark by charting a new branch of survival horror. —written by DJRhude (@DJRhude)

XXL Rating: L (Good)