Just in time for every freak’s favorite holiday, it’s our Geek vs. Nerd Face-Off review of The Evil Within!
Happy Halloween, mothafuckas!
NERD – I am a trained officer of the law. I have been conditioned for life preservation and survival in potentially dangerous and violent situations. However, neither my common sense, years of living a human life, nor my police training, has blessed me with the ability to jump. What the hellacious, zombified fuck is going on here?
The Evil Within is the most aggravating game I’ve ever played…
I guess the developers thought they were doing me a favor by allowing me to climb through windows and hide under beds and in closets. Yeah. I won’t deny those “tactics” definitely come in handy when soulless homicidal undead creatures are checking the room for living occupants. But here’s my problem: I was taught that if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.
By that logic, if I can climb out of a window, I should be able to climb a fence of equal height. There is a point in the game where you’re standing on a balcony, looking at where you need to be to continue, and the only thing in your way is a waist-high fence. Can you climb that fence? No. That would be silly. You have to go through the house, past the zombies and climb through a window the same height as the fence. You, then, make your way into a barn where you are faced with another ghoulish flaw in this demon of a game.
If you encounter the undead, and they are wielding an axe, you may think you’re in luck. Unfortunately, it’s a just a cock tease from Satan himself.
Once the axe is dropped by the enemy, it is magically transformed into the most fragile, disposable material in the universe. One swing, and its gone. Not broken, not dropped– completely gone. What the fire and brimstone (not a shot at your Alien vs. Predator reviews, Spencer, I swear) kinda bullshit is going on here?
Bu-Bu-But wait…there’s more! Walking through the barn I encounter a shop table with an axe on it. An axe that looks exactly like the axe I just held in my hand that magically vaporized. Surely, I can pick this up and use it to protect myself. Nope. Fine, I’ll just walk over to this sickle sticking out of a wooden post and use it.
There are 4 bullets up the ladder that I can put in the gun I found earlier, but there are also several other melee weapons scattered throughout this barn that are apparently just for decoration.
The graphics are great, the gameplay is fairly smooth, the enemies don’t respond to strikes the way I think they should– but I won’t mention that. The storyline seems to lack some continuity, but I may have missed a few details since I was playing half awake at 3am most times. This game has an incredible amount of potential but lacks essential elements that I would expect from a survival horror game on a next gen console.
The Evil Within is by far the most frustrating game I’ve played since Ninja Gaiden 2. I haven’t given up on it completely– but I can’t seem to play more than 2-hours at a time without getting too pissed off to continue.
GEEK – I can’t ignore my colleague’s complaints about The Evil Within. The omission of a jump button, not just in this title but also in games as of late, has not gone unnoticed and the odd disintegration of axes and fire as soon as you use them does not make sense logically. However, they do function appropriately to how the game is designed.
The Evil Within is designed as a linear experience and has limitations on the player. It sets the rules of the actions you can and cannot do. You can light enemies on fire with a small box of matches but not with the torch in your hand. The aforementioned axes and sickles that litter the environment are set dressing and that is a difficult fact that you have to accept.
You’re playing by the game’s rules and you have to conform to them.
While some design and logic decision may irritate some, others will just enjoy the experience with the tools that are given to them. There are the standard pistol, magnum, and shotgun with the unique Agony Crossbow as the game’s standout weapon but I never felt like I needed anything else. Sure the axes were fun to use but I recognized that they were a “Get Out of Jail Free Card” and nothing else.
The Evil Within’s relentless pace and the situations it has the player in are what keep the game in a league of its own.
TEW’s biggest triumph is how it combines empowerment and disempowerment through its carefully constructed design scenarios. The game has three tiers of enemies: fodder, bosses, and one-hit kills:
-Fodders empower the player and make them feel like they are able to stand against whatever the game throws at them.
-Boss encounters are a bit tougher but are still able to be overcome and the game gives you plenty of ammo to fight them.
-“One-hit kills,” as the name would denote, are enemies that you cannot engage normally with – at least not on your first playthrough.
These three tiers of enemies keep the gameplay varied and the horror elements focused.
The Evil Within, while not the apex of survival horror, is still a treat to play from seasoned designer Shinji Mikami. He brings what we loved from his previous games and isn’t afraid to make players uneasy while sacrificing certain design decisions that enrage others.