Evil Within (PS4)
Evil within is the first survival Horror game from Shinji Mikami since the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 4
Mikami is known for bringing the Resident Evil games to existence. Resident Evil is a survival Horror franchise based on both Action and Puzzle solving gameplay. Mikami worked on many Resident Evil games including the first two releases and the hugely popular Resident Evil 4.
The Evil Within has an undeniable influence from the Resident Evil series, both in gameplay and design. The game is structured in chapters; an element widely used in the Resident evil series. This structuring format is quite popular in modern gaming and is useful for checkpoints and of course story structure. However, the Evil Within has a deliberately vague and mysterious storyline throughout so the chapter structure feels more like a Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 format. This type of game structuring gives the experience a less fluent and more broken-up/divided feel. Some players would enjoy this smorgasbord of psychologically driven survival horror but others may be left wanting a clearer, more continuous storytelling experience. There are of course elements of a story revealed in each chapter but again the deliberate ambiguity of the story leaves the player wandering corridors killing enemies; clueless. When playing the game I felt driven to complete each chapter for an explanation as to why- this is both a positive and negative experience for The Evil Within. It can be an empty experience vigorously pushing through chapter after chapter almost waiting for the ending explanation.
I say “vigorously” as The Evil Within is a punishing and sometimes frustrating survival Horror. If you’ve experienced a game-breaking save with no ammo in Silent Hill you’ll understand this frustration. However, this is of course the fun(?) of survival Horror. Similar to the Last of Us it’s best to start the game expecting to die, sometimes at least 10 times before you’ve reached the next chapter. The mechanics of the game work well; you use a quick cycle menu to choose weapons in real-time. You’ll also be healing and reloading in real-time, which is to add to the suspense of that guy running at you with an explosive. The aiming, turning and running controls all feel natural and worked well with the changing pace of action in the game.
The game lacks the quirk of the Silent Hill game series and at times takes itself a little too seriously; which can be damaging for a psychological Horror. However, the game is very different from the Silent Hill game series. The Evil Within is a step in the right direction from Resident Evil 5/6 but it is no way a large step. The game doesn’t bring any particularly new elements to the table and is far from a “game changer”. The structure of the game feels like a continuous cycle of smaller enemies, leading to larger bosses leading to a chapter-ending boss battle. It may seem unfair to pull a game apart in this way as many games are based on this structure. The point is that when playing The Evil Within you may find yourself very aware of this structure and for a genre based on atmosphere that is disheartening.
During marketing The Evil Within was promoted to differ on each play-through and they would regularly show an opening sequence of sneaking past a large character. This was, as usual, all marketing as the game rarely involves a sneaking element and is very much Action heavy. If you’re somewhat masochistic and play the game again, it could quite possibly differ on each play-through. However, when the chapters are so linear and fixed the differences would be minute.
If you’re hoping for The Evil Within to reflect the action and drama of recent Resident Evil games then this game will deliver and may even surprise you. However, if you’d prefer a game that uses immense atmosphere and less ammo then it may be best to wait for Silent Hills.