The Evil Within (2014)
By Matthew Fishgold of Cakewolf.com
Growing up with gory horror games like Splatterhouse 2 (1992 Sega Genesis) I’m surprised with how sophisticated graphics have become today. But more so, I’m surprised by how much more stomach churning a video game experience today can be.
The Evil Within is a pseudo psychological horror game that’s batshit crazy. Games like Harvester (1996 Windows) and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (2009 Wii) come to mind when I think psychological horror games. Putting the focus on you, the player, psychological horror games aim to draw out your own fears and turn them against you. The Evil Within doesn’t do that. Instead, it takes a unique spin on psychological horror that few stories manage to succeed with. The Evil Within passes with flying colors in that regard. Horror fans who can enjoy a more artistic narrative like that of Eraserhead (1977) or Jacob’s Ladder (1990), will be able to lose themselves in a game like this. My caveat would be to take this game in chunks. Extended play can make your mind feel a bit unhinged and queasy.
Actor Anson Mount (Hood of Horror, Urban Legends: Final Cut) voices Detective Sebastian Castellanos, a grim square jawed gumshoe, complete with five o’clock shadow. Called to the scene of a grizzly genocide at the local hospital, Castellanos goes with his partner Joseph Oda, voiced by the incredibly talented and prolific voice actor Yuri Lowenthal (Diablo III, Silent Hill 3). Things take a turn as you discover that the killer is still in the hospital…
Imagine taking a walk down your street. You pass familiar things that you’ve seen many times over. The local convenient store, a friendly neighbor...then, as if you’re just realizing that you’re asleep, reality bends and cracks around you. Nothing around you is familiar anymore, and everyone is a complete stranger. Imagine if this happened to you frequently and without warning, as if you were a flipping coin caught in a perpetual toss, unable to know your outcome. That is the best way I can summarize the journey without giving away too much.
It’s from this point in the game that you begin your descent…. Where you’re given a cornerstone of your avatar, it’s just enough to make you question its truth, and as you go deeper into the narrative, you teeter between a sense of understanding and disbelief.
An encounter with the killer in the intro leads you into a crude butchery. Strung up and witnessing the massacre of flesh all around you, escape is dire. A strange hulking creature is in the room with you, chopping up bodies that tumble down together in laundry shoots. Once you’ve escaped this grotesquely obscene area, you’re pushed through the meat grinder, literally. Successful travels from here engage you in scene after scene of nail biting tension, introducing you to gibbering relentless oddities in the pursuit of understanding and downright survival.
As with the standard fare of horror survival games, The Evil Within succeeds with a true risk and reward system in favor of the miserly. Managing your ammo, tools, and health syringes, progression depends on your wisdom and intuition.
Sound familiar? It should. Game director Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil Series Creator) is behind this bad boy.
Now that I’m done momentarily humping this game, I do have a gripe I’d like to mention.
There’s an evolution system in this game that would feel more at home in an RPG. Allowing you to upgrade your guns, health, etc, with discovered items throughout gameplay, some people will undoubtedly enjoy this aspect, but I find that it cheapens some of the more tense moments. I’d rather feel like Ichabod Crane (not the new TV show’s meat stick on Fox) than Rambo in my horror games.
The Evil Within is 90’s survival horror at its best. It's a true and absolute ode to its predecessors that keeps true to everything that made them great. Acting as a modern skin on a familiar old friend, it won't please gamers looking for something new. This is a game that doesn't aim to please a new audience, but rather revel in the madness that came before it and massage nightmares of old. Hardcore fans of the Silent Hill and Resident Evil series shouldn't wait any longer for something to satisfy their horror itch. Get The Evil Within, now.
Damn me if I’d spoil this game for you. I’ve tried to be very careful skating around the story, so you can experience the full insanity as it unfolds. I’d recommend you not to look up too much about this game, the best way to enjoy it is to go in without knowing too much.
Wanna play? Lucky for you, it’s very easily attained. Available on almost every current gen platform, The Evil Within can be purchased for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows (Steam, etc)!
Here’s a sliver of my retro horror game collection. Let Dead as Hell know here in the comments what you’d like to see us review next!