GAME REVIEW: THE EVIL WITHIN / DEVELOPER: TANGO GAMEWORKS / PUBLISHER: BETHESDA SOFTWORKS / PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 3, PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX 360, XBOX ONE, PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Often “throwback” and “old school” are used to praise a title for bringing old ideas to a new generation. Now we have the game which exemplifies just why sometimes a genre should never attempt this. Appropriately for a game featuring zombies, The Evil Within is a shambling Frankenstein monster of successful game mechanics taken from other titles. Everything here screams of the developer trying to play it safe, with little to nothing left to give The Evil Within its own identity in terms of either gameplay or mechanics.
Within mere minutes of starting you can start counting off the multitude of overused tropes or ideas lifted from better games. From the jaded veteran cop protagonist to a butcher stealth area which might as well have been directly lifted from Outlast, anyone with vague familiarity with the horror genre will have seen everything here a million times before. Taking inspiration would be one thing, but The Evil Within never takes that next step to put a new spin on things, and as a result it’s left without a leg to stand on.
Hammering another nail into its coffin is the failing that few to none of these are handled competently, with clunky movement, poor aiming mechanics and that old issue of fake difficulty. Rather than presenting a real challenge to the player, enemies can both outrun the player and casually one-shot them yet remain bullet spongy beyond belief. This might have worked for a trial and error title ala Dark Souls, but the sheer volume of enemies, severely buggy stealth mechanics and ridiculous save system soon put a stop to that. Time and time again you’ll find that one potentially great idea fails because other mechanics undermine it entirely.
The biggest crime of all though, is that The Evil Within is not scary. Hitting the player full in the face with a level of gore which makes Clive Barker’s creations look conservative, the game aims for a shock factor but lacks the substance to build true terror from this. A big part of this is due to the sheer lack of context, with the game offering players nothing to go on in terms of storytelling nor even what their next objective is. There’s no grounding here or even time to get into the world, and without that starting point every horror trick just lacks any impact.
This is not the game fans were asking for, and it can sometimes prove to be so bad it makes Resident Evil 5 look good by comparison. Avoid this one entirely, especially the exceptionally bug-ridden PC port, and save your hard earned cash for something better.
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