The Evil Within is like a Japanese take on American horror films. Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his crew are called to check out an old asylum. Upon arrival they find a massacre, but before they can even begin to investigate, his team is flung into a psychological nightmare, literally. A cloaked figure, mutilated patients, an interdimensional ward, and more plague Castellanos as he tires to unravel the truth before going insane. Despite the somewhat stale performance from the actors and the fact that the narrative can be too mysterious for it’s own good, well, it’s still hard to put down.
This is as close as one could hope for in a direct sequel to Resident Evil 4’s mechanics. Castellanos has an array of weapons at his disposal like a revolver and a shotgun. The most interesting is the Agony Crossbow. The great thing about its bolts is that they can be used for traps too. For example flash bolts can stun enemies and explosive bolts, well, explode. Arrows can be made on the fly via parts collected from disarming enemy traps as well. Castellanos can also be upgraded via mysterious jars of green gel for health, weapon damage, and even supply stock. It can be tricky to balance out rations especially early in the game, but given enough patience and practice, players will start to feel deadlier. The mechanics play off best in the excellent boss encounters.
In a grotesque way TEW is beautiful. The gore is repulsive along with the wildly disturbing enemies. The locales vary from the darkened, bloody halls of the asylum to a group of ruins next to a seaside bluff. It’s no graphical juggernaut, but the design helps it stand out. That said this game is buggy as hell from small issues like texture pop-ins and passing through objects to bigger ones like freezing while saving the game and not loading levels properly.
The Evil Within, for all intense and purposes, is a spiritual successor to Resident Evil 4 if it were remade as a Silent Hill game. It has its issues, namely in how it looks and runs, but despite these minor grievances, it’s a must play. Survival horror is still alive and well and Shinji Mikami’s artistry is proof of that.
Score: 4/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on October 23, 2014 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.