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The Evil Within
The Evil Within

PC | PlayStation 3 | PlayStation 4 | Xbox 360 | Xbox One
Genre: Action
Developer: Tango Gameworks Official Site: http://theevilwithin.com/
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date:
16th October 2014
The Evil Within Review
Review By @ 02:59pm 14/10/14
They’re all laughing at me, but I’m standing in the corner. I can’t, it’s a hallway. Flies shouldn’t be able to laugh, but they’re showing their yellow teeth and breathing, exasperated at human filth. I’m human. Am I? Can I? The laughter stops and fire lights my eyes like dynamite candles, and I can see a giant mirror. It makes the cow pat closer than it appears. The cow is happy like bulls on parade and the flies conspire to build an arena for me, with the mirror as its door. I can smell the pat, or is that me? Make friends with the rats, they’re natural enemies of the state, and the state flies in yellow dust trails but don’t breathe. Ever. You’ll wake up if you do, and outside of here, it’s a nightmare. Stay within. It’s safer here.

Context is a funny thing sometimes, because without it there’s no foundation for understanding, or grounds for recourse. How do you react to what you don’t understand? Is it a threat? Is fight or flight your only option? Why is anything?

Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within is an absolute mindfuck, in the most sincere and loving way that term can be taken. It’s a bending and twisting posterchild for anxiety. It forces your insides to curl up and clinch in terror, even when nothing is around. And it achieves this because it tells you sweet FA about why, or what, anything is.

At this point then, it’s familiarity that helps you get through the motions. We’ve been here before, after all. Well, maybe not here, but similar places with similar tasks -- survive, thrive, breathe. But not since Eternal Darkness’ Insanity System has a game been so completely capable of destroying your confidence; breaking down your basic understandings of the rules of engagement and call to action; on gamification of survival. The Evil Within, without a doubt, is the perfect horror game, ergo, a perfect horror experience, if such a thing exists.

It has action, don’t get me wrong. And it plays by the rules, giving you more power and the tools to choose what that power is, but it’s largely built on falsehoods -- a progression red herring, if you will, because this game’s director made those rules, and in The Evil Within he loves breaking them. Even your safe-house -- your micro-management station -- is an open metaphor for intangibles, for cathartic reflection on a nowhere plane. You don’t look well, Sebastian, you should take better care of yourself.

What belies progression is that nothing is what it seems, and if it seems, it will soon unseam. The whole game is riddles wrapped in crimson, jiggly flesh ripe for pink misty explosion. In the first 10-minutes of Mikami’s magnum opus Detective Sebastian Castellanos will find himself as a hunk of meat waiting to be cleaved. He’ll slide into a vat of thick, coagulated blood soup with bobbing chunks of flesh. The walls will bleed and things that should be dead, aren’t. Booby-traps lace your escape routes and you’ll slip and slide on the rotting corpses of those who came before. Light only quickens your heart but fire, fire is your friend. Burn away the enemy; burn away the memories.

That recourse I mentioned before, it’s tied heavily to the action and stealth system, which is perhaps The Evil Within’s standout conflict proponent over other, lesser entries in this space. Want a crossbow, here you go. We’ll call it Agony, because fuck you. But while we’re at it, here are some sweet bolts for it, because this is a game. It’s a game about survival. Only it’s not, and the sooner you realise that, the sooner this thing can get off the ground. This is a torture simulator and we’re not telling you why, because fuck you. But while we’re at it, make yourself stronger with this green stuff. Green means go, but it also means gross so deal with it. Don’t inject it though, we want you to voluntarily sit in that chair, strap yourself in and prepare for shock treatment. There, isn’t that better?

This maze you’ve been dropped in, it’s a one-way street. Push forward or die. But dying is also good, at least when the screen is red and the terror has won, your heart can stop beating at its elevated pace, you can breathe a sigh of deathly relief and wrap your head around how best to approach the horror next time. And you will die aplenty here. There are two challenges -- Casual or Survival, but there’s also space for another one because when you beat the game, you really haven’t beaten it, have you? That’s crazy talk, Mikami’s in control here, not you, not Sebastian, not anyone.

Nothing repeats in this new world, either. No two confrontations are ever the same, and environments are either spectacularly designed sandboxes, or claustrophobic corridors and walkways. Enemies are as varied as the devices protruding from their heads and bodies. They don’t die with headshots or shots to the heart, either. There’s no limb-tearing here, you just need to burn baby, burn. It’s the only way to be sure, but while we’re at it, you can only burn them with matches, but matches are in short supply because fuck you. Oh, you found a torch to do it with? Well you can only use it once because… well, you get the drift.

This tone isn’t to be construed as contempt though, I’m a kitten to this monstrously-mutated dog. I’m its fluffy little play thing even though I know its four jaws could snap at me and swallow me whole any moment. And you will face that dog, too. The grunt baddies are just green gel and ammo fodder. They’re stealth targets that can be stabbed in the back of the head as part of some sickly satisfying new survival-horror toolset. No, it’s Mikami’s new creations you need to fear because he’s put them through hell and brought them back, just for you, and while you won’t face them in repeated supply, or even that often, you’ll not forget your encounters with them anytime soon. They’ve been haunting my sleep this past week. Some of them just won’t die.

15 chapters of pure horror bliss is what awaits you here. The story that unfolds isn’t ground-breaking, if I’m being honest, but it’s not meant to be. It’s a minor contextual layer to a visual paradise gone awry. Explaining The Evil Within would be like explaining an actual nightmare, with purpose, or trying to derive meaning behind every facet of a Salvador Dali -- you can’t, and if you tried you’d be missing the point. The game is an experience, not an arc. It evokes myriad emotions no cut-scene ever really could and it breaks all the rules of gameplay -- it takes automation out of the equation, you’re not repeating a series of actions here (only you are), you’re fighting off fear and dread, overcoming an evocative tension barrier created within you because of the game, the tension isn’t a system. It’s not code. It’s hardwired within the human psyche and it’s in this place the game wins, it’s here that Mikami has mastered something no other designer ever has, because the whole while, you’re still in control. The controller is in your hand and Sebastian is your puppet, only you’re not really in control, because fuck you.

This is the absolute peak of this stuff that we do. It has no bullet-points a marketing team can get high off because it does what it wants, because it’s perhaps what Mikami has always wanted. But if it had come sooner, if he’d been let off his leash before now, it wouldn’t be this. The Evil Within is masterful and gruelling. It’s a drug that has such a hold, I can’t stop. I couldn’t stop, despite the anxiety, despite the heavy feeling in my chest, no matter how sweaty and clammy my hands became. I couldn’t stop. For all his monstrous creations within, for all the messed up torture playgrounds and for all the mindfuckery, I couldn’t stop.

Where BioShock Infinite aggressively tugged on heartstrings, The Evil Within tears them from your chest and crucifies you. It strangles you with your own tendrils and feeds you your own beating heart, mouth locked shut and tied with entrails, forcing you to chew and swallow. But when the last sliver slides down the back of your throat, you’ll look up and smile a sadistic smile before asking “more, please”.

(Please Note: I played the game on Survival difficulty with no Tutorial and removed my weapon reticule for the complete challenge.)

What we liked
  • One of the most messed-up gaming experiences ever crafted
  • Genius game-design and pacing
  • Combat and stealth is second-to-none in the space
  • An imaginative world where nothing is ever as it seems
  • The greatest character progression system (and place) ever made
  • Those monsters and bosses, oh my
What we didn't like
  • Chapter clear screens remind you it's a game
  • Creates a huge amount of anxiety
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 05:23pm 14/10/14
HOLY F*** A 10.
I'm not going to read the review in attempt to avoid spoilers (this was on my buy list anyway).

Either way, wasn't expecting that score. Super excited.
Posted 05:29pm 14/10/14
It's a f*****g great review though.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 05:46pm 14/10/14
No spoilers in there groganus :)
Posted 05:51pm 14/10/14
Hehe, thats an awesome review. I've been really keen to get this, but I was waiting for reviews just in case, sounds like its a winner though. Its getting chipped everywhere for those menus at the end of the chapters though, wonder what they were thinking doing that.
Posted 06:08pm 14/10/14
....getting this.

Steve you hardcore. Is survival hardest difficulty?

edit: Yeah that's ab it weird steve why do you keep saying because f*** you. It's a bit childish.
Posted 05:59pm 14/10/14
There are no spoilers in that review, I'm even less sure of what the game is about now after reading the review apart from steve telling me 'f*** you'
Steve Farrelly
Posted 06:26pm 14/10/14
greazy, yeah I tend to play the hardest difficulty on most games where I can. This will have a New Game + option once you've cleared Survival. But Survival can be made hard by turning off pretty much all help which is how I played
Posted 06:31pm 14/10/14
I usually play on "Normal" or "Medium" or equivalent, but with the only options being Casual or the Survival one, I think I'd have to go Survival. Casual sounds far too noobified.
Posted 06:43pm 14/10/14
No spoilers in there groganus :)

Yeah normally your reviews are very spoiler free, however Horror games I tend not to risk it, describing the mood or atmosphere can dampen the "Fresh" effect.
Posted 06:48pm 14/10/14
I usually play on "Normal" or "Medium" or equivalent, but with the only options being Casual or the Survival one, I think I'd have to go Survival. Casual sounds far too noobified.

casual mode engages 30fps
Posted 07:33pm 14/10/14
Blimey, I'll have to pluck up the courage to play this then!
Posted 08:32pm 14/10/14
Alien or This which is scarier?
Posted 09:33pm 14/10/14
looks like they're going to work on 60fps

-1: This sets the FPS limit to 60. Fully playable, although there may be quirks (we’re going to fix these).
0: This fully unlocks the FPS. We do not recommend playing above 60. We will not fix any issues above 60.
Posted 09:42pm 14/10/14
Great review! Looks like this will be my game of the year, and I was worried it wouldn't deliver!

Alien is good, but very very repetitive and some cheap A.I., does get the heart racing though :)
Posted 11:44pm 14/10/14
This is the only site that has given this anywhere close to a 10. Hmm, Bethesda is giving a fair bit of money in advertising to Ausgamers...
Steve Farrelly
Posted 12:13am 15/10/14


I'd say the higher end of the scale is outweighing the lower. We also have a disclaimer acknowledging the advertising campaign on the site.

The campaign was signed off over a month ago - well before our review. The campaign was added to the site by our own advertising agency through Bethesda's and we're not the only site with this campaign. Neither myself, nor the entire editorial team had anything to do with this campaign, and Bethesda had nothing to do with our review score.
Pablitos Way
Posted 09:00am 15/10/14
I have yet to see a thumbs up on the Steam review section, must be terrible on PC...
Posted 09:04am 15/10/14
looks like they're going to work on 60fps

only half fun then;
Posted 05:56pm 15/10/14
Yeah apparently the PC port isn't much to write home about. Although they were very active on advertising the way you could improve the game via console commands, as per Ravnos' link
Posted 07:53am 17/10/14
Started playing on PS4 last night, didn't think id have such a hard time getting use to the aspect ratio as I am.

It does make it more cinematic, I feel like i'm only ever looking where the game director wants me to look, but I still have the freedom to look elsewhere, its odd and hard to explain. Either way it's not game breaking.

It makes me appreciate the Evil Wtihin Maze at Moview World that little bit more, the sound effects and audio and decals and f*** everything was so close to the game, such a good job replicating the feel.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 10:23am 17/10/14
It's odd that so many people are wierded out by the letterboxing, I really like it and had/have no issues with it
Posted 05:22pm 17/10/14
Was sitting on the fence about this one. A 10? time to jump down and go buying
Posted 06:09pm 17/10/14
Nice review, the thing I find horrifying about the game is the price tag :(
Posted 06:58pm 17/10/14
$44 from CD key sites :) So far I'm having no problems with the letterboxing or frame rate, but it's a very dim game. I could adjust the gamma up, but that might be cheating...
Posted 07:01pm 17/10/14
Any recommendations on best platform? PC, Xbox 360 or PS3? Feels like it might be a good lounge/tv game?
Posted 08:20pm 17/10/14
any further comments on if it deserved a 10?
Posted 10:17pm 17/10/14
bought it and loved it cause of this review. well done lads
Posted 10:17pm 17/10/14
I'm a complete pansy when it comes to horror games, I managed to get through chapter 1 ok, but chapter 2 I had to get up and walk away for a breather at the end.

I'm a huge fan of horror and thriller movies, I love watching the s*** out of them, getting all scared gets me going like you wouldn't believe. It's by far my favourite genre to watch. Horror games is another thing. I sink way to hard in to them and every little thing gets me jumpy.

The last game to send me off the rails was outlast, I couldn't even last more then 20 minutes and I was done with it, never to turn it on again. This game has great scare pacing, its tension is what f*****g gets me, the music, the atmosphere, the field of view. It all makes for a terrifying experience.

Steves review is spot on from what i've played. It is a 10/10 horror game. It does everything right to scare the s*** out of you. In saying that, its not for everyone. If you don't enjoy horror games, being scared or extreme survival don't touch the f*****g thing. Cause it delivers it.
Posted 10:20pm 17/10/14
For a sec I thought steve has replied to his own thread with his real account instead of his shill account. Fryzeegunner you steve's shill account? Nah Im just joking.

Yeah what Vash said, is it worth playing? What's the cheapest place to get it from for xbox 360?

Haven't read anything, groganus can you comment on the puzzles if any exist? Is it similar to RE games and it's puzzles?
Posted 11:58pm 17/10/14
At the start of chapter 3 I haven't had any puzzles, What I have had is pretty large environments to take down stuff as I please. It doesn't stop it from being intense, ammo has been low to non-existent requiring a s*** ton of stealth kills and running away.

Also note, the first 2 chapters have been rather short, an introduction to the game if anything.
Posted 06:06am 21/10/14
Is this what passes for a game review these days?

Thanks for wasting my time with this self indulgent crap.
Posted 07:35pm 27/10/14
Hmmm, sounds tasty. Why? Because f*** you lawl :D It's on my steam wishlist now. I wouldn't put down 'creates a huge amount of anxiety' as a negative, you could say that about sex remember.
Posted 09:26pm 27/10/14
Listen to metacritic. The ausgamers reviews are a bit hmmmm
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