Last week, I finally got around to playing The Evil Within, eventually finishing it on one weary evening over the weekend. While I did enjoy certain elements of the game, if this is the road that the title's creator Shinji Mikami wants to embark upon, he's going to have to make some serious alterations for The Evil Within 2.
I regret having played this on the Xbox One and not the PS4, as in several video comparisons I can see that the detail on character's faces and the surroundings is slightly improved in the latter. But no matter, when it comes down to it, this game doesn't even look great on the PC. Therefore, let's take a look at what I feel Mikami should change if he made The Evil Within 2.
The Evil Within 2
This title really didn't look great, and I'm not a guy who depends on graphics for a good time, so I just want to quickly get this out of the way. The game was noticeably poorly texturised and rendered in several areas, and the choice to have it all in widescreen, with two black bars taking up a third of my screen, made it feel like the team was deliberately trying to cover up these issues.
Was I the only one that attempted to change this setting in the options? I imagine if you did it would look far worse. It really was a pity. I understand that the title is supposed to be dank, dark, gritty and display a kind of noise on screen. But that's no excuse for some of the areas in The Evil Within. I'd love to see a better looking version of these environments!
Characters & Story
I don't know about you, but I am so sick of these video game characters that are continuously thrown at us from big developers and publishers as of late - they have NO redeemable features! Sebastian Castellanos is a blank-faced, deep voiced mannequin who stumbles around these areas occasionally emitting sounds that resemble emotions.
It's the same with the likes of the Assassin's Creed series (aside from the wonderful Ezio in AC 2, I mean he is a big part of why this is the best game in the series), and now with the likes of Watch Dogs or Far Cry (noticing a trend here Ubisoft?) or even Advanced Warfare. All of the most interesting characters are those that remain in the periphery of the narrative. At least Sunset Overdrive dared to give us something fresh and exciting!
The whole cast in this game were stereotypes, merely filling roles, such as 'the nerdy sidekick' or 'the woman'. I feel that character development is far too often overlooked in certain studios. The Last of Us has changed the industry forever, and a lot of companies are really going to have to start making their characters enjoyable to be around and play as for all of these hours.
Unfortunately, the story was also quite weak, relying upon far too many horror cliches and tropes and giving us very little to cling onto. And then the conclusion arrives and we're still not even granted a pay off for all of those hours of investment. I may be a bit harsh on it at the moment, but I really do feel like gamers are demanding a great deal more from their stories than what this had to offer.
If The Evil Within 2 came along, I'm not even sure that I'd be interested in having the story of Castellanos continue, because that'd mean I'd have to play as him for another 15 hours. I know it's a horror game, but that's no excuse to give us such little to care about and then throw loads of scary thing at us. Anyway, I think I've been watching too many Zero Punctuation reviews, I sound very negative. Speaking of which!
I suppose that this is the real element of The Evil Within that makes it worth trying out for the 15-20 hours it can take to complete. Combat is insanely satisfying. That moment when you nail the headshot just right and see your enemy slump to the floor is wonderful! Especially when you can gather all of the other enemies around the dead body, light it and watch everyone else burn while you save sooo much ammo!
But that's just one of the main problems with the game; the ammo. The Evil Within seems to dance between the two varying worlds of success that Mikami has experienced in the past within this genre - Resident Evil and Resident Evil 4. This made for some confusing moments.
The game seems to advocate the stealthy approach to killing off your foes, and yet the majority of sequences see a full room of enemies running at you the moment you walk in. This forces you to either empty all of your weapons, or just simply run away. And seeing as the latter option isn't a lot of fun and the guns feel great to fire, why would I always want to do that?
The game needed to pick between a title where we can blow everyone apart with cool crossbows or a sneaking survival horror with no ammo. Unfortunately, it didn't get the balance quite right in my opinion. But then, maybe I'm being too harsh. As, at the end of the day, the title was actually engaging during combat moments (not cinematics), it was just too long for me to stay interested based on one area of genuine success.
Perhaps I'm bating The Evil Within a bit much here, but it's only because I can see a really great idea and world here that didn't reach its full potential. And I desperately want to play the ultimate edition of this game, with a good storyline, interesting characters and awesome combat system to boot. If it actually had the two former elements I would have forgiven the combat choices.
So what did you guys think of The Evil Within, do you agree with any of this?! Let us know in the comments and happy gaming!