Is it safe yet? Nope. Right, I’m gonna just stay back here for the time being. The Evil Within is out and if being chased by chainsaw wielding mutant zombie madmen through the wasteland of what’s left of the city is your thing, then this game is for you. Released as Psycho Break in Japan this is the survival horror brain-baby of Tango Gameworks and has been released by Bethesda and directed by Resident Evils very own Shinji Mikami. It’s been haunting my console for about a week so I decided, in honour of Halloween, to give a run down on PS4’s latest bloody, gore filled offering.
To date, the death count is in the hundreds. And that’s not the monster death count. The character has met his grisly end more times than I can count and it’s abundantly clear that this is a game that takes pleasure in putting you on your ass, but only after driving you to the very edge of your seat.
You play as Sebastian Castellanos, a police detective called to a mental hospital to investigate reports of a horrific mass murder. While there, you find a lot of empty squad cars and a lobby littered with dead bodies, and that’s before things really hit the fan. Before you know it the city itself is uprooted, leaving the gamer alone and battling for survival against pretty much everything, while trying to piece together what the hell is even going on.
As games go, the visuals are visceral, and the backdrops are varied and eerie; you’re only one short, freaky ambulance ride from blood soaked hospital to creepy forest. While full of those sudden scares that we all love, the game also plays on the senses to grind your tough gamer backbone to quivering goo. There’s a detailed and interactive environment that is nothing if not utterly hell-bent on confusing you, turning you around and walking you into a large gathering of axe wielding death merchants. There is no map or compass. No help. It has a lot to offer as far as survival horrors go with less emphasis on the complex puzzles and more on hiding behind random crates so you aren’t dead within the coming ten seconds. The scarcity of supplies and the difficulty dispatching enemies make this game more than a little difficult but this only adds to the overall feelings of hopelessness.
There’s a lot of frustration though, when it comes to the gameplay itself. At a few points you find yourself screaming at the screen as your character tries to raid a desk drawer instead of burying his axe in the head of an attacking monster. And the character is slow to move. Really, really, infuriatingly slow. I can only believe that this is intentionally to drive the gamer as demented as the creatures you’re hiding from.
This is a mixed basket. It doesn’t have the driving characters of something like The Last of Us to move it along and it falls short behind a few Silent Hills in terms of atmosphere, but that’s not to say that it won’t garner its share of fans with its very Resident Evil 4 feel, thanks in part to Mikami. There are a lot of weird, wonderful and simultaneously horrific things to entertain and as the game progresses the story becomes more involved than you find yourself expecting. It does suffer a little in terms of a split personality. It opens with what is pretty much pure horror but this switches rapidly to more of an action centred, shooter theme. Unfortunately, as well as its self-confusion, the characters are not as top notch as you’d want, considering the effort put in to get you to the end; with Sebastian Castellanos being a somewhat lack lustre personality and a script that isn’t in anyway grabbing.
For one of the first survival horrors native to the PS4, we can only expect good things to come.
Despite issues the game is solid! 7/10