Shadow of Phoenix

Respect for Games

Shade’s Review of The Evil Within

Posted on this site: Friday, March 25, 2022

Originally Published on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at https://shadevideogames.blogspot.com/2014/12/shades-review-of-evil-within.html

I just finished The Evil Within.
I have to say that it’s a fun game, but it’s not scary.
It’s definitely a survival game, and the horror is more blood and gore than anything.
Some reviewers say that The Evil Within is what Resident Evil 5 should have been, and that it’s a return to old school survival horror.
 
The gameplay is very much like Resident Evil 4.
It has over-the-shoulder shooting, which many games nowadays have due to the success of RE4.
There are also hordes of enemies that come after you, and tough bosses to fight.
I think The Evil Within has some improvements of the RE4 gameplay.
Unlike RE4, the camera can be moved independently of moving the main character Sebastian.
The melee is a little better.
The only melee in RE4 was using Leon’s knife, and kicking enemies when a button prompt appeared on the screen.
 
Sebastian can punch or hit enemies with whatever weapon he has equipped.
He can also pick up weapons such as a hatchet or torch.
The problem is that as soon as you hit an enemy with it, Sebastian drops it or it breaks.
That is one thing about the game that really drove me nuts.
I understand that melee weapons cannot be kept in the inventory, but I hate breakable weapons or just dropping it after one hit.
Sebastian could have at least carried the weapon until he equipped a firearm from his inventory.
You can use stealth and sneak behind certain enemies to perform a stealth kill.
You can also hide in some places such as a locker or under a bed, but I only did that in the very beginning.
 
I agree that The Evil Within is better than Resident Evil 5.
One big issue that Resident Evil fans have with RE5 is that Chris has a partner, Sheva, with him at all times, and a second player can control Sheva turning RE5 into a co-op shooter.
There are parts in The Evil Within where one or both of the other detectives team up with Sebastian, but it’s only for short periods of time.
For the most part, though, Sebastian is on his own so there is no co-op.
Now that I think of it, there are no quick time events in The Evil Within like there is in RE4, 5 & 6, which is a huge plus.
The fact that it has RE4 gameplay, makes some improvements on that gameplay, and does not have co-op/partner from beginning to end, The Evil Within can be thought of as a game that Resident Evil 5 should have been.
 
I do, however, have to disagree with the statement that The Evil Within is old school survival horror.
I think of old school survival horror as Silent Hill 1-4, Pre-RE4 Resident Evil games, the Fatal Frame series, Dino Crisis 1, and other horror games on the 5th and 6th generation consoles.
They’re slower paced, you fight a few enemies and bosses here and there (not many hordes of enemies), there seemed to be more puzzles in those games, and you could spend time exploring the environments.
Of course, some people don’t like slower paced games.
I like the slow paced horror games especially when such games as Silent Hill and Fatal Frame use atmosphere and sound effects to make players feel uncomfortable.
Another point is that sometimes it can be more frightening to be attacked by less enemies because it can make players anticipate when they’ll be attacked again.
 
Resident Evil 4, on the other hand, changed the survival horror genre to be more what I call survival action with horror elements.
That is the type of survival horror continues through The Evil Within.
It is fast paced, many enemies come after you, and the bosses are tough to fight.
There isn’t much inventory management, but you can only carry firearms, the agony crossbow, grenades, ammo, and health items.
The game limits how much ammo you can carry for each weapon as well as the amount of other items that you can have in your inventory.
It does have an upgrade system, which can be used to increase health, increase the number of ammo and health items you can carry, make your weapons stronger, and much more.
You collect green gel throughout the game, and the green gel is worth so many points for upgrades.
There is nothing wrong with this type of survival horror.
I just don’t find it to be like old school survival horror.
I’ve read some review comment sections that The Evil Within is a RE4 rip-off.
Despite how similar it is to RE4 in gameplay, I have a hard time calling it a rip-off of RE4 since both games are directed by Shinji Mikami.
 
The horror in the game is nothing new unfortunately.
It has a lot of blood and gore.
The enemies remind me of the enemies in Resident Evil 4 & 5, and they sometimes eat people like zombies.
As I mentioned, fighting hordes of enemies and tough bosses is very reminiscent of RE4 & 5.
The nightmare experienced throughout the game makes me think of the nightmare in Silent Hill.
I will admit that I prefer the way the original Silent Hill games present the nightmare better.
Sneaking past enemies and stealth kills is similar to the Siren games.
The option to hide in lockers, closets, and under beds is also like Siren as well as indie horror games where all you can do is run and hide from enemies.
 
There is too much familiarity in The Evil Within for me to find scary due to the mixture of elements from other horror games.
One could say that that the mixture of elements such as the gameplay, enemies, nightmare, etc. is a love letter to survival horror.
Despite feeling like I’ve experience so many of these elements in other games before The Evil Within, I still appreciate it as a dedication to the survival horror genre.
 
Plus, I never thought fighting hordes of enemies to be frightening.
Fighting hordes of enemies makes the game intense and frustrating at times.
The only part of the game that I found a little scary was chapter 9 when you’re in the mansion, and Ruvik (the main antagonist) comes after you at certain points.
I also noticed that every time Ruvik chases you, the lighting in the environment turns blue.
I think this was probably taken from one of the scrapped versions of Resident Evil 4, which fans have called Resident Evil 3.5.
This version was meant to be like the typical survival horror Resident Evil except it was more paranormal than previous games.
Footage of Resident Evil 3.5 can be found on YouTube.
 
Speaking of hordes of enemies being frustrating at times, The Evil Within is not an easy game.
I played the game on casual, the lowest difficulty level in the game, and I still died a lot.
It may have been the easiest difficulty provided in the game, but it sure wasn’t easy.
I also ran out of ammo many times, but that’s expected in a game about surviving.
The game can get very frustrating, which is why it took me over a week to finish it.
I played The Evil Within slower than I usually do with games.
 
I don’t understand why video games are criticized for being difficult.
Many video games are easy to play, and there is nothing wrong with that.
At the same time, some video games need to provide some challenge too.
Yes, there are some games that are unfairly difficult, but there is not much unfairness in difficulty in The Evil Within.
 
I will say that it did overstay its welcome a little bit towards the end.
At least, it did for me.
By the time I reached the final chapter, I was ready to fight the last boss and beat the game.
But, I had to fight a bunch more enemies before I could battle the final boss.
Not surprisingly, I died several times fighting all the enemies in the last chapter.
Once I did beat them all including the last boss, I felt like I accomplished beating a difficult game, but I was also getting a little tired of playing it.
 
Lastly, the plot of The Evil Within is not bad.
I will not give anything away, although I will say that I’m not sure why people claim that the storyline is non-sensical.
My guess is that some people could not follow the storyline.
I didn’t find it hard to follow.
The characters don’t explain every detail, and no one sums up the story at the end.
The Evil Within is a little indirect with it’s storyline, but I like it when stories aren’t always direct.
 
The criticism that I have is the characters.
They have very little personality.
The voice acting has little emotion, the characters don’t have many gestures, and they don’t have much character development.
You do learn about Sebastian’s background through journals.
Without spoiling anything, I will just say that his backstory is a little predictable.
 
All things considered, The Evil Within is a difficult but fun game.
I don’t see it as an old school survivor horror game because it continues the survival action horror brought about by Resident Evil 4, but it’s a great love letter to the genre.
For anyone who has yet to play it, I would suggest renting The Evil Within before buying it, or wait for the price to drop just in case it’s not a game for you.
I don’t regret getting the game at full price with 15-20 hours worth of gameplay that I found to be challenging and fun along with decent replayability of collecting items and four difficulty modes.
I also want to support good horror games released on consoles since there are so few of them these days.
But, not everyone will agree that those are good reasons for a $60 purchase.
Furthermore, there might be things about the game that will cause you to not like it especially if I described some aspects about the game that you already know might not appeal to you.
That’s why I suggest to renting The Evil Within before buying it even if you’re a big survival horror fan.