It is rare that I can pass up on a horror game, especially one that is helmed by Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil.  I couldn’t, in good faith, pass on it.  What I could have done, though, is waited, but impatience and high expectations often get the best of me.  I saw a handful of trailers for this game and thought, this looks interesting.  While I can’t complain about the overall experience, I felt unsatisfied when I got to the end, and even at several places throughout.

 

To me, The Evil Within was a mix between Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but not scary at all.  I am still trying to figure out what scenes people were watching in those commercials where they looked terrified.  At no point during the game did I jump out of my seat or even feel like someone was watching me.  After playing Silent Hill 2 for a few hours, I was jumping at every noise.  The scare factor was nonexistent.  If anything, the game was more a mix between undead zombie-type creatures and dark or spooky environments.  The game just wasn’t scary, period, and that was a bit of a disappointment.  When I buy a horror game, I buy because I want to get scared, however foolish that might seem.

 

If you’re a horror fan, then you might want to stop reading there and know you’re probably not going to get what you seek from this game.  However, the gameplay is pretty decent, the levels are rather involving and the upgrade mechanism, similar to the one from Resident Evil, made the game that much more interesting and challenging.  There were times where I had to choose between either upgrading a gun or my health and those choices have long-reaching effects, as you continue through the game.  I tend to use the methodology that a more powerful gun will save me faster than more health, but I could be all wrong about that.

 

It didn’t take me long to get used to the controls and once I did, I was able to run around using mostly stealth, as my aim sometimes gets a little questionable as more enemies appear.  The environments were varied and detailed.  Each level had a distinct look and feel and as the story progressed, the surroundings followed suit.  In many ways, the art of the game was the real star of this game.  If the story had been better told, it might have held up, been supported by the excellent art, on all fronts.  Even the enemies had varying points that were detailed and different.  It did frustrate me that some zombies had learned how to use a gun.  I mean, how does that even make senses?

 

The voice acting was passable.  The story wasn’t strong, so I can’t say that the execution was going to affect me more.  I thought all the characters felt very flat.  While there were documents all over the place, it wasn’t enough to make me care or understand them any better.  If anything, there were pieces missing.  I had to hunt online to find what had happened to the main protagonist’s wife to better understand his backstory.  I read all the documents, but as I got closer to the end, that one piece eluded me.

 

Now to the crux of this review: the story.  Let’s face it, a horror video game can get by with a mediocre story if the scares are there.  When there are no scares, then what you have is a watered-down B-movie type game, and that’s basically what this was.  It almost seemed like the broke the bank on some great designs, set pieces and really sleek controls, but the story just never came together.  The beginning of the game kept me guessing, but as it lagged on, I started to wonder what was going on and why things were unfolding the way they were, even though I was finding all the documents and reading everything.  Even after the ending, I was still a little uncertain.  The same thing happened to me after Silent Hill 2, but that one didn’t leave me as unsatisfied as this one did.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it didn’t overwhelm me.  I expected to have my socks blown off and I stayed entirely clothed at all times.  This is probably more a warning about expectations than anything else.