Frictional Games Forum (read-only)

Full Version: Thoughts on The Evil Within
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2
Thoughts on The Evil Within (PC)

[Image: tew_hero.jpg]

“The Evil Within” is a 3rd person shooter survival horror game developed by Tango Gameworks, and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game is also directed by Shinji Mikami, the director of Resident Evil 1, and 4.

Initially I was incredibly excited for the Evil Within because I was a massive fan of games like Dead Space, and Resident Evil 4, and this game seemed to channel the spirit of these games while having an identity of its own. Now that the game is out, how does it hold up? Rather disappointing I must say.

This article will seem more like a review than my usual thoughts ones since I have a lot I want to cover, so I figure I’d just go all the way, and cover as much as I can.

This is based on one playthrough of the whole game on Survivor difficulty. As always with most of the things I write...SPOILER FREE!

Story


So starting off I want to get the worst part of the game out of the way first: The story. Among this large section I think the biggest issue in it is in the game’s first half…which is an absolute lack of agency, or goal. The early portions of the game have main character Sebastian wandering through the game’s various levels just…because. Seriously the only reason he goes through anything in these levels is because they just so happened to be the way to go in the game’s linear level progression. You do not have a good reason of why you’re doing this, or some long term end-goal that you’re trying to run towards.

With this lack of goal in the game, it can rapidly get unengaging quickly since I never felt like I was working through something in the game. I was just sort of going through the levels. I had to turn off the game multiple times to “recharge my interest” because the game got too boring to play for longer periods of time. That’s never a good sign.

Next up is the characters. There’s literally hardly anything to say about these people since they are so uninteresting. There’s nothing obviously defining about them, they do not go through development, I never cared about any of them. It was like they were just cardboard cutouts acting out the plot.

To top off the story section I’ll touch on the actual “plot” of the story itself. Aspects of the plot (Owing to the lack of agency I mentioned earlier) only really starts showing up well after halfway of the game. It’s a fairly standard plot, but the various drops of what has happened in the story when they happen I think were done rather well. At its core this story doesn’t seem like to be that bad of a story at all. If worked with properly it could be a very interesting thing to unfold. It’s just a huge shame that the game spent its entire first half faffing around, and not building upon this.

Atmosphere/Tone Report

Now that we have the story out of the way I’ll give the “report” on the game’s atmosphere, and tone. This part of the article is not a criticism, and is rather just an assessment of what I personally found the game’s atmosphere and tone to be like. This is highly subjective, and people may prefer this aspect of the game one way better than another.

What I gathered from the game’s atmosphere is that it initially tries to be tense, and scary, but later on evolves into a much more action-oriented approach. The game will start off very slow-paced requiring careful maneuvering to successfully progress. However these sections are still very much gameplay mechanics-oriented rather than narrative-oriented which in my opinion holds back potential for these sections to be truly terrifying. This is not always a bad thing though, since it was clear it was not the developer’s intent to ever do so.

Another aspect I feel worth noting is that the game is incredibly over-the-top in many of its horror scenarios, particularly the opening scene. This makes several of these scenes rather comical unintentionally. In other scenes it makes such encounters feel like exciting action showdowns with evil monsters.

In the later stages of the game the attempts to try and create dark, brooding environments is partially abandoned. There are many whole segments which take place in broad daylight, cities, or places with generally good wide visibility. I refrain from saying that it was abandoned entirely as among the later stages of the game there are still parts reminiscent of the game’s earlier creepier levels.

All in all the game’s atmosphere is not scary, and definitely does not have Silent Hill’s style of atmosphere. The closest comparison I can think of is Resident Evil 4: a survival action thriller game.

Gameplay

The gameplay mechanics are what I say are the strongest parts of the Evil Within. It is what has kept me going in the game where the story has failed.

The most commendable aspect of the gameplay I would have to say is the game’s balancing in its difficulty, and inventory. It is incredibly well-balanced. In more than just a few of these “scarce resources” games I have found myself with extreme surplus amounts of supplies since I was able to force myself to refrain from using such supplies at all, or using them extremely cost-effectively. This is not the case at all in the Evil Within. You do not have a reliable source of infinite damage which does not require ammunition plus you are going to HAVE TO fight quite a lot of fights. Put these two aspects together, and you are going to have to spend your resources. However no matter how effectively I tried to use my resources I always felt that I was always having just enough to barely scrape by, and was rarely feeling like I was in a comfortable spot with surplus supplies. This is the mark of a game which has done its balancing very well, and it helps contribute a lot to the “survival” aspect of the game.

This limited amount of supplies also meant that one could never get really comfortable with using just one weapon for most of the game, and would have to mix it up rather frequently out of necessity which also makes for interesting play.

The Agony Crossbow is the “non-standard” piece of equipment in the player’s arsenal. Extra ammo can be constructed for it by using trap parts looted from booby-traps in the world. While it may seem like at times you have tons of these, they can very quickly drop very low when you craft a few special bolts you need in a pinch. The bow’s various bolts provided a good amount of variety although I wished that there was a way to see what each bolt type did after their initial introduction (Assuming I didn’t miss it somewhere)

The matches I thought also provided an interesting layer to the gameplay. For example, in many encounters you can have the choice of killing an enemy by shooting him three times in the head, or shooting him once in the foot while using a match to finish him off. The choice is made based on how resources are looking like at the moment, and is very interesting. Also to add more strategic use to the matches, one can rig it so that burning one enemy on the floor will also kill several other healthy enemies. The fact that matches have these uses to them beyond checking for dead enemies like I originally though makes them a very pleasant surprise.

Enemy & Level Design Aesthetic

This part will be slightly shorter since I don’t really have much to say on it.

Personally when compared to its spiritual predecessor Resident Evil 4, the Evil Within falls off by quite a bit in this department. The levels, enemies, and bosses are all not as visually diverse, and/or interesting in comparison. There are a few areas which have an interesting “concept” but just didn’t go all the way in making itself memorable because it lacked in the visual aesthetic aspect.

The bosses are more interesting than the standard game’s look and feel, but this really should be a given since they are bosses after all. Even with that slightly higher standard taken into account though I think that the bosses of the Evil Within just barely have enough of their own charm to be engaging. The fights themselves though can be a small bit confusing but nothing that breaks them completely.

Technical Issues (PC Version)

I’m usually not one to dive too much into the technical aspects of games since I am usually content as long as a game is able to run “fairly well” after tweaking settings a bit. However, the Evil Within just has so much problems in this part that I feel that they must be mentioned…even if most people have probably already read about them a dozen times already in other articles.

First off the most infamous trait of the game is its decision to be locked at 30 FPS. This is becoming an increasingly common trend in games these days mostly on consoles due to their more limited processing power. This greatly hampers the fluidity of playing video games as they end up not feeling as responsive as 60 fps. It may sometimes be a necessary compromise on consoles due to the lack of processing power, but I see no reason to do this on PC at all

Some companies have defended themselves by saying that this is for a more “cinematic feel” for their games, but I feel that this is only an excuse which holds no true weight. I don’t want to spend the whole article talking about framerate, so for anyone who’s interested Totalbiscut has made a video on the matter here: http://youtu.be/eXJh9ut2hrc

Bethesda has tried defending themselves in the Evil Within’s case by saying that while this lock is in place it can be disabled by messing with files, or console commands. This explanation is very obviously flawed since it raises the question of why they didn’t just put the option in the game instead of needing you to mess with external files.

Second is the utter lack of graphics options. Going into the graphics options menu I saw only around five advanced options for the game. Plus even with them all turned off the game barely looked that much different from when it was running with all of them on.

This is a huge deal because it restricts people with lower-powered computers from tweaking a game’s visuals to better create a smoother experience. The only real setting left to play with would be the resolution which I personally despise turning down since it produces very noticeable jagged 3d model edges as opposed to graphics options which produce more subtle downgrades.

Finally is the decision to have black bars on the game’s screen for a more “cinematic” experience. I got used to them after a long enough time, but I believe that still doesn’t change my thought on them being extremely intrusive.

Like the framerate, the black bars can be changed via console commands. However depending on how much you reduce them this will cause the game’s camera to behave very strangely. Again this is something I feel could’ve had more effort put into, and been integrated into the game’s in-game options menu.

Verdict

The story of the Evil Within maybe had potential, but it was executed in a way which rendered it almost worthless for most of the game. While the gameplay is enjoyable enough to keep the game afloat throughout its entirety, a lack of interesting design decisions keep it from surpassing its other flaws. The lackluster PC port does nothing to help matters for the game either.

Even with all that being said, based on my overall enjoyment of the game, I will give the Evil Within a 6/10; an okay experience.

What did the rest of you think of the game? Love to hear your thoughts!
What i have to say...
THAT CONTROLS!!!
I quit the game because of that!
PLUS, Why the F those 2 amazin black boxes. ( i know why; because of other country''s and getting better performance on some consols...)
I really stop playing ANY of the RE-franchise.
Being my favoriite game (Re 1, 2 ,3) Into one of the worsed games (Controls+Black borders)
Re 4 was already NOT scary at all, let's say Re 5 and 6 werent eithers. altho Re 6 is the best from 4 - 5 and 6.
-
So, for this short explanation i know you can debug mode the 2 black borders but then the FOV will increase and would be even more unplayable!
Rating;
Not finished due the above, UNFORTUNATLY!!!
Did anyone notice the female character's role in the sewer (and the rest of the game)? A hint: it was purely for sexual reasons. You can see her bra through her shirt, then there's the skin tight jeans and high heels.

I can suggest Yahtze's review, he touches on a lot of what has been mentioned.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/v...mpaign=all
(11-01-2014, 04:49 PM)i3670 Wrote: [ -> ]I can suggest Yahtze's review, he touches on a lot of what has been mentioned.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/v...mpaign=all

Whenever I finish watching one of Yahtze's videos on a game I had previously judged he always makes me feel like I've been far too soft on the game lol.

"A whole lot of effort of get fucking nowhere!" is a surprisingly adequate description for the game though.
It's quite true because

Ending Spoiler!!!
Spoiler below!
The ending was sooooooo confusing. "So what? It was all a simulation!? Does anything matter?

Not to mention the disjointed areas you're forced to go through.
(11-01-2014, 05:52 PM)i3670 Wrote: [ -> ]It's quite true because

Ending Spoiler!!!
Spoiler below!
The ending was sooooooo confusing. "So what? It was all a simulation!? Does anything matter?

Not to mention the disjointed areas you're forced to go through.

Spoiler below!
Yes the entire game was a simulation. Ruvik's brain was taken and used as the basis for creating the world that we see, and also the thing that various involved scientists are researching. That's why there were so many missing people throughout. They were all kidnapped by the scientists for their experiments.

Something that is slightly confusing though is how Ruvik showed up in the start to incapacitate Sebastian (Since they were still in the real world at the start), and what interest he shows in him (I do not see any ties between the two)

My theory is that the beginning of the game was already in Ruvik's mind to begin with, and that the entire cast of main characters had already been abducted prior to the game's beginning by the scientists for being involved in related investigations. This also explains the massacre in the hospital at the start of the game being one of Ruvik's illusions since in the real world the organization would not commit blatant mass murder as it does not benefit them.

This unfortunately does not explain how the bearded doctor (Forgot his name) got into the world since he is part of the organization to begin with. Another extension theory is that someone else in the organization was planning some sort of revolt against the doctor, and put him, and Leslie into the world to kill them discreetly, and make it seem like an accident.

I only played the game once, and wasn't paying attention to everything so I could definitely be wrong.
Spoiler below!
So, it's basically a dream...

One thing I do not get at all is: why have they implemented a melee damage upgrade if you can't kill the enemies with melees?
(11-01-2014, 06:45 PM)i3670 Wrote: [ -> ]One thing I do not get at all is: why have they implemented a melee damage upgrade if you can't kill the enemies with melees?

Judging from the wording of the game's upgrade system, melee damage does extremely small amounts of damage, but damage nonetheless. If an enemy has been already damaged low enough, or if the player is persistent enough I think melee attacks CAN kill an enemy...although it is highly impractical.
I've gone through the game 1,5 times and it has never happened, even though I've had the melee upgraded to max for most of the game(more than half). It's quite odd.

Btw, who was your least favourite boss? Mine was the gray hairy spider-female. God damn I hate her.

Spoiler below!
Last boss was ridiculously easy.
(11-01-2014, 09:05 PM)i3670 Wrote: [ -> ]I've gone through the game 1,5 times and it has never happened, even though I've had the melee upgraded to max for most of the game(more than half). It's quite odd.

have it maxed too. Can confirm it kills the normal enemies after a lot of hits. Mostly used it to get some room rather than doing damage. Weird that he does not use the knife.

A lot of wasted potential but it was rather pretty. There are some ideas and creatures in the artbook that are extremely interesting and I assume not everything went okey during production. :/
Pages: 1 2