by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
Darkness Of The Mind
When The Evil Within was first teased, I know that I was skeptical. Even with renowned game director Shinji Mikami, creator of the still praised first four installments of Resident Evil, I was skeptical. It had been so long since Mikami had taken full reigns of a horror experience, was he ready to lead the way into a new setting in horror? Perhaps, or perhaps not. As I booted up The Evil Within for the first time, I did it with the lights off and the sound up. I was ready to experience the creative depravity from within the mind of Mr. Mikami.
We have all had bad days here and there in our lives, but I don’t think anything will ever quite be as bad as what happens to Detective Sebastian Castellanos. Responding to a mass homicide at an asylum in Krimson City, Sebastian is first greeted by empty squad cars of those who responded before he showed up. Heading inside and seeing bodies everywhere, of police, patients, and staff sets off about several million red flags. If responding to the scene of such slaughter wasn’t enough strain on the mind, the series of events that quickly follow would surely make anyone’s mind snap like a twig.
Warping environments and laws of reality, twisted monsters, and through it all Sebastian is mostly alone. His encounters with friends are often short lived, his only real solace a mysterious nurse who often dismisses his presence unless she feels like talking. The settings, the feel, the monsters and characters, they tell me two things. Firstly that Shinji Mikami is back setting the stage with his airs of tension and outright horror that made Resident Evil so loved and loathed, and secondly that he is willing and able to change his style to try something different. That’s exactly what The Evil Within is in a lot of aspects, familiar but so foreign.
Fight And Flight
Let’s get this out in the open; it feels a lot like Resident Evil 4 in many ways. That’s still a good thing even by today’s standards, and that familiarity I think helped deliver the base of this game allowing to more easily try for new things as it progresses. The more standard monsters you encounter, remind me very much of Las Plagas infected humans, down to their animations and fighting preferences. Luckily one thing that didn’t carry over from the past was the awful inability to move and shoot at the same time, but don’t think you can backtrack with pinpoint accuracy for even a moment; moving and shooting with anything other than a shotgun pretty much guarantees you will be wasting a bullet unless you have upgraded your accuracy.
Being so similar to Resident Evil 4, the first few chapters have much more emphasis on the action rather than the fear. Ever present tension doesn’t exactly qualify as fear, but it does keep building and the further in you get the more the action and the scares become more balanced. There will be times where you are running in fear, whether it’s from a trap or one of the more brutal denizens of this twisted reality. The first moment that really made me yell was when I encountered the spider-like woman seen in the trailers. Now I’m not going to tell you when it happened, but let me just say I’m very glad that my neighbors are used to me yelling in fear because there were times where there was a lot of it.
With how much I enjoy this game, it’s the current state of it on PC that is saddening. I don’t mind being locked to 30fps, I really don’t. Before building this rig, I was only getting 10fps on some games before I really got into PC gaming so I can manage with 30fps, even slightly lower, without complaint. But on the PC currently, there is a widespread issue where the game will drop from 30fps to 15-18fps for split seconds, sometimes here and there and sometimes quite often.
I could deal with it and press on, but that doesn’t mean I expect most people to be able to. Whatever it is that’s going on, it needs to be addressed especially considering the amount of people it’s happening to. Another thing I found to be a glaring issue, is the choice to letterbox the game. In an attempt to give it a more cinematic feel, the screen is now cluttered with black bars at the top and bottom. There is no need, and no want from most gamers for this. One last negative, though thankfully this one can be fixed by the player. The grain filter that is on by default is the most disgusting looking thing ever and rather than helping the game’s horror, hurts it. Turn it off as soon as you boot the game up.
To sum it up, The Evil Within is fantastic; or rather it would be if the PC version didn’t feel so sloppy. Make no mistake, I had a blast. I had some of the most intense moments I’ve had in a game in a while, and even some scares that dimmed the light on the last horror title I played Alien: Isolation. Tango Gameworks and Bethesda need to quickly take hold of the situation, or risk alienating the majority of the PC crowd from what could easily become a new household name for gamers. It’s really painful for me to say that with a simple fix of these issues, the game could be a 9. But until at the very least the FPS issue is addressed, this game serves as a prime example of why people are so wary of console-to-PC ports.
Creative and twisted environments and monsters, great blend of action and horror surpassing Shinji Mikami’s previous titles.
Widespread FPS issues, letterboxing only clutters the screen, default grain filter is an eyesore.