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The Evil Within Review

Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Bethesda Softworks
Tango Gameworks
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
October 14, 2014

The importance of a fantastic concept cannot be denied. A developer that does its damndest to scare the ever-loving crap out of you, and utilizes multiple successful methods to do so, deserves credit. For these reasons, Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within is a laudable effort with plenty of thrills and chills, and survival/horror veterans will appreciate such effort. Unfortunately, without the requisite execution, you end up with a somewhat disappointing and ultimately frustrating production; all the more frustrating because you know what it could’ve been.

I have to say, I expect more from a PlayStation 4 title. On the plus side, there’s plenty of amazingly freaky and grotesque imagery, and the detailing found in certain demonic foes is mighty impressive. The backdrops and environments aren’t as slick, though, and the cut-scenes aren’t as polished and refined as I would’ve anticipated. The effects are appropriately gory and in-your-face but again, there’s an inexplicable roughness to these visuals that drags down the overall presentation. I won’t discount the atmospheric efforts, though, because these drive the experience forward and have the most significant effect on the player.

The sound is hit or miss. The music is fittingly creepy but too often, we’re wandering about in almost complete silence. One could argue that this silence increases the fear factor but I believe a carefully selected score contributes to the tension and sense of urgency (or hopelessness). The effects are definitely on-point, as the gut-wrenching sound of a knife plunged into decaying flesh or the terrifying screams of your hellish enemies continue to prick your ears. The voice performances are uneven; the main character is pretty good but the rest are decent at best. Japanese games are getting better in the acting category but they’re not quite there yet.

You play as Detective Sebastian Castellanos, who first investigates a psychiatric hospital. Unsurprisingly, Castellanos encounters some otherworldly mystical force while he’s in the hospital and when he leaves, all hell breaks loose. After that, you’re embroiled in a dark, sinister plot that will test your mettle (and your patience). It’s a well-paced adventure that doesn’t rely on the same scare tactic over and over, as you’ll be exploring both outdoor and indoor environments and facing off against a wide variety of foes. Some can be killed easily while others require a fair amount of strategy, and still others can’t be killed at all.