The Evil Within is a survival horror game that is not for the faint hearted or the weak of stomach. Developed by Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda, The Evil Within is a fun, gory video game that put my fear in my heart and bile in my throat.
Most games start off slow and build towards the real action. Not so with this game. It opens with the protagonist, Detective Sebastian Castellanos investigating a brutal mass murder at Beacon Mental Hospital. You then witness a strange, hooded figure murder three cops and before you know it, you wake up from unconsciousness hanging upside down with a butcher chopping up bodies. You escape only to have him chase you with a chainsaw. When you catch your breath, you remember you’re only on the first of fifteen chapters and the ride begins.
The game presents itself well, with good but not outstanding graphics, as it came out between last and current generation of consoles. Where it really shines though, is the atmosphere. The use of lighting and the level design are genius, with many levels dark and foreboding. Every noise sends prickles down your spine and every sign of movement fills you with dread. It also had a fair amount of challenge, taking me nearly 20 hours and over 200 violent deaths to complete.
The combat is also very good, with the game providing you with weapons such as a pistol and shotgun. But most memorable is the agony crossbow, which can shoot different kinds of bolts such as an explosive bolt and a freeze bolt. But in traditional survival horror style, ammo is scarce and every bullet feels precious. Even matches are important, used to burn bodies of the most basic enemies, known as the Haunted, to make sure they're really dead. The combat was most fun in the boss battles. The bosses that repeat are arguably the best in the game: the chainsaw wielding maniac appropriately called The Sadist, a woman with four arms called Laura, and a safe headed enemy known only as The Keeper. Stamina was also precious. When you run too long, your character stops running and catches his breath, which I had happen at the worst times and ended up dead.
The story is very intriguing, but only if you're paying attention. The ending is left ambiguous and only somewhat satisfying, but again only if you paid attention. The protagonist is weak and boring, just like the other characters. Their dialogue and voice acting is passable, and I found certain audio clips being repeated, which took away from the characters. Even after paying attention to and analyzing the story, I was left with some questions and uncertainties about the events and characters, so there were some glaring flaws that held the game back from being truly great.
This was my first horror game, so I didn't know what to expect. Was it scary? Yes. It had elements of psychological horror that kept me at the edge of my seat. Was it scary enough? No. Some levels were too action oriented and could have been a lot scarier, although the parts that were scary were very scary. Overall The Evil Within is a great game with some flaws. I'd give it an 8.6 and would recommend it to all fans of the genre and those looking for an introduction to the genre.