I have been a fan of the Resident Evil series ever since I first came home with my brand new PS1. At the time, I didn't have enough cash to even buy a game with the system, so I had to convince a friend of mine to let me borrow a game to play on my brand new system. That game was Resident Evil 1.
Since then, Resident Evil has come out with many games across multiple consoles. It has since become a classic series to most gamers in the survivor horror genre. The series started taking a turn more toward action adventure rather than survival horror recently, so when I heard that Shinji Mikami (designer of Resident Evil) would be releasing a new survival horror title, I'll admit I got pretty excited.
I purposely avoided reviews of the game and decided to play the game the day of it's release. While I was hoping for a hardcore survival horror game, I was pretty sure The Evil Within was going to be more action oriented similar to the style of Resident Evil 4. So on that note, I tossed in the game and streamed my reaction live.
As I expected, the game begins with your main character, police detective Sebastian Castellanos investigating a mass murder at the Beacon Hill mental hospital. While investigating, he witnesses his fellow officers being slaughter by a mysterious man in a white hood. Soon after, the city is being destroyed by an earthquake-like force and the action begins.
As you play through this third person shooter, you will encounter many zombie-like enemies very reminiscent of the Resident Evil series. They even have a cutscene where the enemy turns to give you the classic Resident Evil over-the-shoulder-look which was an obvious nod to Shinji Mikami's roots in the genre.
As I progressed through the game, I honestly felt like I was playing another Resident Evil game with the controls and game mechanics I came to expect from the series. Then I hit chapter 3. I was overrun with tons of enemies, a severe lack of ammo, and no clue how to overcome the always creepy Chainsaw wielding baddy.
I struggled here for a while getting frustrated and wondering why the game was so difficult this early on. Then I discovered there were traps laid out across many of the houses in the area. If you pull a lever here - spikes rained down over there. I also noticed I had obtained some crossbow bolts which acted as traps when I shot them on the ground. A little strategic thinking and I managed to shoot a bomb crossbow bolt under a trap and when the chainsaw enemy got near it, it would blowup and stun him allowing me to pull the lever and rain down spikes into his skull.
Once you learned that this game expected you to be aware of your surroundings and to use your weapons strategically, the combat became immensely more fun. I still don't appreciate the ridiculously steep learning curve so early in the game with no sort of training or tutorials, but once I figured things out I had a lot of fun with the combat.
Day one of playing I completed chapter 1-4. To be honest, after those chapters I likely would have just put the game down had no problems if I never returned to it. While the combat had gotten more enjoyable, the game still had little direction, plot, or interesting character development.
I came home from work the next day not really excited to play the game again, but I tossed it in and continued on. I was happy to find that the pace of the game was picking up and the final battle in Chapter 5 was quite intense. It gave a little insight into what on earth was going on in this game. In chapter 6, I experienced my favorite boss of the game. The boss (who shall remain nameless) I felt was creative and terrifying in a perfect blend for survivor horror. The fight really left my heart racing as I completed the chapter.
I quickly clicked through to the next chapter. The game continued to improve through Chapter 9 which I completed that day. By the end of Chapter 9, there were some very intruiging plot developments that kept me wanting more. I wanted to continue playing, but unfortunately I had to work in the morning so I called it quits.
I returned home from work for the third and final day of The Evil Within. I had very high hopes that the plot twists of the previous night would lead up to an incredible ending for the game and continued playing. As I progressed through the final 6 chapters, the pace of the game was was smooth and enjoyable.
However, the plot and character development took a turn for the worse. The previous chapters had built up some incredible character development for not only the main character, but also for the villain. I was starting to feel a connection to the suffering of both the main character and the background of what made the villain the way he is. For some reason though, the game never concluded any of this development. The game's plot and character development seemed to unravel, becoming increasingly incoherent and convoluted. By the end of the game, you were left with the impression, "What on earth just happened?".
It's not impossible to see what Shinji Mikami was going for in this game, but even after much thought and effort has gone into deciphering the concluding events, the plot is still mediocre at best. It is also clear there were deliberate plot holes and character backgrounds missing from the main game which they have stated will be cleared up in later DLC for the game.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed with The Evil Within. It had a lot of potential, it just didn't deliver. If you're a gamer who isn't much into plot or character development, the game implements some very interesting strategic combat systems but aside from that, I would wait until this game hits the bargain bin to experience it on your own.