The Evil Within Review – A Terrifying Tale

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One thing you can’t help but notice is the deliberate anxiety The Evil Within fosters throughout. Your initial encounters with enemies breed a level of panic not closely emulated in many other games. I know that the Survival horror genre specifically targets said emotions, but its been quite sometime since I noticed it this well. I think the last game that reminded me of such angst was most likely Silent Hill. It too did a masterful job of bridging the gameplay with an unending level of stress and anxiety.

I really enjoyed the leveling aspects built within the game. I play games very systematically. In other words, I play them a bit slower than necessary because I don’t want to miss anything.  As a result, I typically level my characters quicker because I have found at least the majority of extra items or hidden secrets.

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With that in mind, I deliberately looked in every crevice, and every room to try and find the little elixir bottles hidden throughout the game. Not only did I find elixir bottles, but there are hidden ammo boxes and even other weapons. I will say the ammo boxes are a bit misleading. They appear to be full, but in reality they most likely contain one or two bullets, so beware. In playing this way, I was able to level my weapons, and abilities much quicker than you would just playing straight through it.  Therefore, it provided me a bit more leeway, or more accurately written margin for error when battling some of the relatively difficult bosses.

The boss battles were quite intense. So much so, that right before one began I would pause the game, stand up, stretch and then commence the battle. The first boss battle, which I won’t ruin, was a wakeup call as to how difficult they were going to be. I’ll be honest, I was caught off guard when the first one started and it resulted in several very quick deaths. After some rethinking and a few different preparations I was able to defeat it, but needless to say, they aren’t at all easy. The fact that they aren’t is a good thing, but just don’t forget it. At times, and I will revisit this in a minute, the normal enemies would become a bit predictable and thankfully the boss encounters were a welcome struggle.

The weapon selection seemed pretty solid and most of the time I was pleased with the results. The crossbow arrows were undoubtedly the most vital in the game, but once I had leveled my shotgun up, it was hard, (unless of course necessary) to deviate from it. Call me old-fashioned or nostalgic, but I preferred the exploding head shots over just about anything. There are plenty of times when that method is not only impractical but it just flat out wouldn’t work. Moreover, there are countless instances when even the exploding arrows weren’t really the best methods.

Thankfully, The Evil Within provides environmental assistances, which work quite well when used properly. I really enjoyed lighting a puddle of gas or oil and pleasantly watching several enemies burn right in front of you. That brings me to the matches. It is imperative that you learn to not only conserve but utilize your matches. When you are facing a tough enemy, they sometimes fall down allowing for you to quickly light them on fire. This not only saves ammo, but can sometimes kill multiple enemies. Like all the weapons, they are scarce so use them sparingly. The environmental weapon options are even more integral in out smarting some of the relentless bosses. I tried to make myself look for opportunities to employee such tactics, but far to often I couldn’t stop my carnal instincts and would resort to gunslinging. Typically resulting in a quick and painful demise.

Although there aren’t tons of other things to do besides try to finish the story, there was an opportunity to find locker keys around the different levels. None more gratifying than the first, but I enjoyed it so much that I won’t ruin the surprise, just know it was pretty epic. It took me a bit to realize how to find some of the other keys, but once I realized how, they too became a challenge to find. The locker rewards were helpful, but again, I diligently searched for as much of the elixir as I could possibly find, which garnered me a little less need to find the keys. However, had I played differently, finding the keys would have played a huge role in helping you complete the game.

The Evil Within is not without some flaws; some a bit more glaring than others. At the beginning of the game, you are thrust into several anxiety ridden scenarios and they really do freak you out. However, as you progress in the game you are able to start picking up on when the intense situations are coming. In other words, the game starts to be a bit predictable. Yes, of course the loud noises, or surprising enemies are still present, but the main battles are less of a surprise. One such way of noticing is the strategically placed save points. Don’t get me wrong the save points are welcomed, but you begin seeing a pattern that anytime you see a save room; here comes a big battle. I can see the logic behind wanting the player to be able to start right back where they just saved, but too often it allowed me to gear up, get ready and know something big was coming. It is not horrible, but it did happen often enough where I felt it needing mentioning.

Also, I have a bit of an issue with the pace of the game. I know that this is how Survival horror games go, but I found myself growing more impatient the longer I played through the game. I grew weary waiting for enemies to walk back and forth so that I can stealth kill them. To me, it kind of artificially increases the length of the game. I prefer a mix of both worlds and although The Evil Within allows for that, I guess I just would have preferred a bit more control over how I played the game.

There is also an auto-save feature that prevails throughout the game. Great idea; just not the best implementation. Time after time you find yourself creeping through a treacherous part and reaching what you later learn is the end, only to be killed and have to return a ridiculously far ways back. I found myself going back as often as I could to the manual save rooms to help limit my struggles back through the level. Unfortunately, you can’t always do that so you are left to the mercy of the autosave. The feeling that you are going to have to play a ton of the level again if for some reason you are killed, is one less thing I wanted to worry about. The game already leaves plenty to concern yourself with.


Outside of those things, the game does a lot of things right. It brings an anxiety ridden roller coaster, intricately woven within the exciting and at times scary world that is The Evil Within. It gives you an abundance of thrills, that leave your heart racing and yearning to see how it ends. I don’t know if I am just in the spirit, but I can’t think of a game I would rather be playing during this upcoming All Hallow’s Eve week.

(A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review.)