Way Behind Gaming – The Evil Within Review (Mega Spoilers)
So, here we are with my first ‘Way Behind Gaming’ review. I suffer from severe depression, so sometimes it’s near impossible for me to get the motivation to play games, hence my backlog is staggering. I definitely can’t bust out the reviews as soon as a game comes out like I used to. Maybe someday again.
So, this is a game that I was really excited about, so I decided to get it for the PlayStation 3 instead of waiting until I could get a PS4 (I’m doing that with some games, and the wait is torturous). Speaking of torturous, this game really doesn’t let up in the difficulty department. I could say that the game was torturous, and I haven’t seen that many truly glowing reviews. But I thought it was a solid entrant into the survival horror genre.
I will say however, that I was not scared. This game didn’t ramp up the environmental tension like Silent Hill 2 or 3, or the first Dead Space game. I was tense whenever I knew there was a fight coming up because I was pretty sure I was going to die, but I didn’t have the same sense of ‘dread’. I will state, for the record, that I don’t scare easily. I’m not scared of horror movies, haunted houses, horror games, gore, or dark alleys. So, I can’t say flat-out that the game isn’t scary, because it may be scary to others. There are some very tense moments, though. Even on Casual difficulty, the game pulls no punches. Yes, I play casual. I want to experience the game the first time around, and see the story, so I always play easy mode first, and then do the harder modes afterwards if I so desire. As I get older, I find that I care less and less about beating something on the hardest difficulty. I have enough stress in my life, and I can only imagine that the higher levels of difficulty, such as the unlockable Nightmare and Akuma difficulties, will be true hell. Jesus, on Casual, I died 78 times, according to the final tally screen. Ha ha, I knew it was going to be about that.
When I was playing this game, I felt like I was playing the spiritual sequel to Resident Evil 4 in terms of gameplay. It’s not really surprising, since Shinji Mikami is the brain (har har) behind this whole operation, and he also directed that game. You burn enemies the same way, the headshots are crunchy and satisfying in the same way, Sebastian feels and acts like Leon – a gruff, boring protagonist (yes, I don’t like Leon Kennedy). I find that Sebastian is one of the weakest parts of the game for me. There’s little to no emotion in his voice, and I don’t feel like he was scared, or ever felt in true peril. A small quip at the end of the game about never wanting to ride in an elevator again after this was all over, lands like a lead balloon. The rest of the voice acting is decent, so I think it might just be a flaw in the character himself – the tired cliche of the hard-boiled cop who doesn’t get phased even when faced with insanity.
As far as the plot goes, it gives it to you in small doses, which was really slow starting things off, but in the latter half of the game, the storyline starts to pay off more, and you realize that the story isn’t really anything like Resident Evil 4 at all, so it’s in no way a spiritual sequel there. The story is basically if Inception were a horror flick. You know that you’re in someone’s mind, being controlled by the antagonist, Ruvik, and it’s given to you pretty early on that’s what’s happening. The locales change, and things fall on their axis all the time, just like in a dream (or just like Inception). I’m not trying to knock that it tried to do Inception meets Saw, because I love Inception, and I love horror. And it just more does the ‘impression’ of Inception, rather than a full story rip off. There are pieces to the story that I wish had been developed further, like the story you ‘read’ through finding Sebastian’s badge logs in the save rooms. Also, there’s a cult aspect thing that goes NOWHERE.
As far as enemies go, it’s hard to call them zombies, but it’s hard to call them something other than zombies. They’re kind of an uncategorized evil that act like zombies, but have a whole barbed wire thing that seems like it’s going to be a story thing, but is more just an aesthetic that kind of ties the things together. Essentially, Ruvik has this scientific thing about connecting consciousness with people, but it’s not exactly a friendly kind of connection, and most peoples’ brains turn to mush, save a mental patient named Leslie that you’re constantly chasing around in the game. You learn that you’re caught in a mental web, and you really do feel trapped. There isn’t any of that ‘fuck this, I’m going home’ aspect in Survival Horror games that you sometimes get, wondering why the hero or heroine doesn’t just leave. You learn that this research was stolen from Ruvik, and you see that his childhood fell apart when his sister was burned to death in a barn fire, but again… that kind of goes nowhere, and it doesn’t exactly give me sympathy for Ruvik. But, it did give me sympathy for Laura, who turns out to be one of the most annoying and difficult of the bosses in the game. At first, she’s just the chick thing with the long arms and hair that kills you with one swipe, but when you find out that it is Laura, Ruvik’s sister, who sacrificed herself in the fire so he could be saved, I felt kind of bad about setting her on fire again and again.
One of the enemies that’s gotten a lot of press and images (see above) is The Keeper, or Boxhead, as people have been calling him. I guess he’s supposed to be like this game’s Pyramid Head. He’s got the same ‘body shot only’ method of dealing with him, but The Keeper just doesn’t have the same resonance as Pyramid Head. Maybe because nothing comes out of The Keeper in the story. Again, I keep going back to that – threads of awesome subplots that didn’t get resolved or built upon. That’s a huge downfall in the game for me, since I’m very story based when I play games.
The graphics are fairly good. The blood and guts are very gory, and the environments are well done. I found the character models to be average, nothing spectacular. However, please note that I did play this on a PS3, so the lighting and textures and whatnot wouldn’t be as good as current gen. I also noticed that there was lag time when I’d get into a new room, or when trying to get out of the menu. Again, I’m not sure if that’s just a 360 and PS3 issue, or if current gen players also saw it. The gameplay was good. If you’ve played Resident Evil 4, you’ve pretty much played this game, so it’s not hard to learn the controls.
All in all, I will play the game a second time to get the collectibles like the keys inside the goddess statue and the map pieces, as well as trophies for maxing out Sebastian and other things, but there were things that left me wanting in the story department. There were storylines that I wanted to pay off. There are parts of the game, in the middle chapters, where it’s hard to put the controller down because shit’s just happening all around you, and you really want to know what’s happening next, but those things are never revealed. In this age of DLC, I hope maybe there will be bonus chapters to find out more about the weird cult, about Sebastian’s daughter who died in a fire, and his wife who disappeared investigating that fire.
Also, the game kind of ends with you thinking that all this was because of some bigger corporation taking over Ruvik’s research, so there is room for a sequel. The end, I think, is what made me like the story more, actually. I wanted to know more about all the things they DIDN’T talk about, but I liked that things in the end are kind of foggy. I love that all of this was actually in Sebastian’s mind connected with Krang… er, Ruvik, and that maybe it’s all still in his mind, but it still made me wish for more explanation, or just tighter story direction, throughout. That’s why my score for the story is kind of harsh.
7.5 out of 10 stoic dudebro protagonists