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Evil Within scares up chills and thrills

Oct 31, 2014

By Alexander Cattani - G4 Canada

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The Evil WithinThe Evil Within harkens back the glory days of survival horror. Complete with nightmare inducing monstrosities, eerie environments that look like they've been lifted straight from a Hieronymus Bosch painting and more blood and guts than you can shake a served leg at, the latest game from the twisted mind that brought us the seminal classic Resident Evil 4 is sure to disturb and delight fans of the beloved genre.

The story kicks off with a team of detectives investigating a grizzly crime scene at a mental asylum. After poking their noses around for about five minutes, reality is thrown out the window and the narrative goes from zero to a hundred in a matter of seconds. Aside from the rather immediate intro, pacing is handled exceptionally well throughout the twenty-plus hours of gameplay. Prepare to do a fair amount of head scratching though as when it comes to finding out exactly what's going on in the story as little is explained. I found this to be an exciting approach to unraveling the narrative as the unpredictability of what would happen next kept me intrigued throughout.

The Evil WithinYou'll be dropped in the shoes of Sebastian Castellanos, a gruff no nonsense detective with an enigmatic past. Sound familiar? He's the default template for about 90 per cent of videogame protagonists. Emotionally bankrupt heroes may fit well in military shooters, but having one in a unique game such as The Evil Within feels odd, such as during a certain moment in the campaign. I was carefully walking down a dimly lit hallway. I had two bullets left in my underpowered revolver and my health was severally dwindled. I noticed a well-lit room at the end of said hallway. Feeling relived at the mere sight of light. I walked in to see what joys would await me. Then, one of the most terrifying creatures in the entire game emerged from a pool of blood on the ground whilst letting out a shrieking scream that'll forever haunt me in my dreams. What did agent Castellanos do? Nothing. Not even a surprised animation or reactionary line of dialogue. It was as if he knew it was coming and the joke was on me. As the game progressed, agent Castellanos took a backseat to all the carnage and soon became just a vessel to experience the twisted world of the Evil Within. And what a twisted world it is.

The Evil WithinThe Evil Within displays some of the most imaginative environment design I've seen in a while. Each area was distinctly dark and twisted as the next. You'll visit decrepit catacombs, dilapidated towns, eighteenth century churches, vacant hospitals and more. Each location felt thoroughly handcrafted and lived in. The attention to detail in the environments mixed with the exceptional sound design made for an atmosphere that stuck with me even after I had turned off my console. Nail-bitingly tense at moments and skin crawlingly creepy at others. A great game world needs worthy gameplay and thankfully, The Evil Within is highly rewarding in this regard. Do you remember how satisfying it was to score a headshot in Resident Evil 4 and watch the enemies decaying face blow apart in a mist of blood and brains? If so, you'll feel right at home here. Shooting feels firm and impactful. While it may be tempting, going Rambo isn't recommended, as ammo is few and far between. Another viable option to gameplay is stealth. Sneaking about and taking enemies down is a great way to conserve precious resources. Although it takes a backseat about halfway through the game, I found stealth to be the preferred way to play when the option was available.

It goes without saying that the art direction in The Evil Within is top notch but some jarring performance issues hold the title back. Frame rate dips were a common occurrence when four or more enemies shared the screen. Not quite to the point of broken but past the line of forgivable. It comes as a surprise to why The Evil Within runs so poorly at sections, especially since the graphics aren't technically demanding. With a game that creates such a rich atmosphere, having performances issue often breaks the established tension.

The Evil Within may not have made the same impact as its spiritual predecessor Resident Evil 4 did but it comes close. Fantastic world design and fun gameplay make this a solid edition to any horror fan's library.

The Evil WithinThe Evil Within
Format: PS4
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Tango Softworks
ESRB Rating: M for Mature (17+)
Official Site: http://theevilwithin.com/en-us

Rating: 8 / 10

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.