The survival horror genre has seen some bright lights but has since faded from popular interest and been overshadowed by modern-day shooters. Publisher Bethesda Softworks and the developers at Tango Gameworks have challenged that trend with “The Evil Within,” director Shinji Mikami’s dream project that hearkens back to the roots of survival horror.
The story centers on Sebastian Castellanos, a cop investigating a series of grisly murders at Beacon Mental Hospital. While looking at the tapes, he is knocked unconscious and enters a twisted world filled with zombie-like creatures and countless other horrific monsters. Sebastian (and therefore, you) must use strategy to uncover the evil within.
The biggest plus of the game is the atmosphere and environment, which is littered with dark, isolated hallways and rare but effective jump scares. It is truly a return to form for survival horror games, as most have degraded to pure action shooters. This game requires cleverness, as ammunition is scarce. It puts you in a position of true fear as you have to figure out the best way to clear a room or defeat one of the game’s infuriating bosses without wasting hard-earned ammo.
The best and only way to play is at night, lights off, shades closed, and the volume up. The combination of visual and sound design is above phenomenal, mixing gruesome imagery and twisted enemies with terrifying sound effects and a disturbing soundtrack.
Another huge plus of the game is the controls, which feel like they jumped straight out of “Resident Evil.” While some may complain about the similarities, it does provide a sense of familiarity with the game. If you don’t know traditional “RE” controls, there is a two-minute tutorial.
The difficulty of this game is both a big plus and a minus. “The Evil Within” is unrelenting. At times when I seemed to have the upper hand, the game’s non-player characters got in the way and caused me to die. While the bosses are fantastic and terrifying, they’re also nearly impossible to beat. This means a lot of casual gamers will be frustrated.
Also, the frame rate is shoddy. The game runs in 30 frames per second, which is modest for current-gen systems. With next-gen consoles running at 60 frames per second, the graphics on PS4 or Xbox One will seem far worse than they actually are.
“The Evil Within” is still a fantastic game. The negatives are overshadowed by the visual aesthetics and the incredible sound design. This will make a great gift for any horror fan.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.