After striking big with Resident Evil 4, developer Shinki Mikami took some time away from the survival horror genre, focusing his efforts on titles like Vanquish and God Hand. Now, Mikami is back with a new studio (Tango Gameworks) and a new survival title called The Evil Within.
Although The Evil Within is not a Resident Evil game, Mikami hopes that it will deliver those elements that fans have been missing. Specifically, fans have been clamoring for a genuinely terrifying experience, and they hoped that Mikami would be the one to bring it to them.
The good news is that wait is over and The Evil Within is finally on store shelves, but the bad news is critics are charting all over the place in terms of their feelings about the game. Some praise the title as a return to form, while others say it feels dated and is exceedingly repetitive. Read on for some choice quotes from reviews around the web.
Game Informer (Tim Turi):
“Horror fans shouldn’t let the disappointing story deter them one bit, however. Few Paranormal Activity fans care how these malevolent demons come back again and again – what truly matters is that the audience’s nerves are frayed until they’re raw. The Evil Within excels at keeping your palms sweaty while delivering a harrowingly rewarding gameplay trial. Watching the credits roll with a sigh of relief doesn’t feel like winning; it feels like surviving.”
Polygon (Phil Kollar):
“I’m still questioning whether I’ll make that second pass, though. The Evil Within has great moments where the excellent combat and creepy environmental design come together. But those moments are fleeting, inevitably sapped of their delightful terror by design choices that feel trapped in the glory days of a decade ago. There’s something to be said for respecting your past successes and building off of them, but The Evil Within is only ever completely successful at half of that equation.”
IGN (Lucy O’Brien):
“The Evil Within is a brutal, challenging, and remarkably fun game. Its eerie world and imaginative enemies are genuinely frightening, and the scares are heightened significantly by the scarcity of resources at your disposal. It keeps the odds stacked against you to the point that they often feel insurmountable, yet it’s finely tuned to ensure that they never really are, as long as you can keep a cool head and a steady aim in the face of building panic. While its story ends up buckling under its own ambition, there is little here that takes away from the joy of experiencing survival horror under the steady hand of a master of the craft.”
Joystiq (Susan Arendt):
“Evil Within just plain doesn’t give you a fair chance to succeed. It doesn’t provide enough information for you to make good decisions and it handicaps your ability to fight well. It requires so much repetition that it can’t possibly maintain any sense of tension or unease, and its story is told so aimlessly that you’ll likely forget the plot between scenes. It manages a few moments of inspiration, but their scarcity makes them feel like fortunate accidents rather than deliberate elements of the overall design. It’s covered in blood, but the only thing truly horrifying about The Evil Within is how disappointing it is.”
The Escapist (Jim Sterling):
“The Evil Within is a noble attempt at bringing back classic survival horror, but it could have learned a thing or two from games that aren’t almost ten years old. It has its moments of brilliance, scattered through periods of antagonizing design.”
Game Trailers (Michael Huber):
“The Evil Within is a survival-horror masterpiece. Anyone concerned this is just another action game soaked in blood needn’t worry. Tense pacing, stunning atmosphere, and terrifying enemy encounters come together to create a journey you may never forget.”
Shacknews (Daniel Perez):
“While playing The Evil Within, I experienced a number of times where I found myself jumping due to a sudden introduction of a haunted running out of a building completely covered in flames, or a giant haunted breaking through a wall with chainsaw in hand. The combat system, though, owes itself just as much to Resident Evil in some unfortunate ways. As a result, Resident Evil fans will have a serious case of déjà vu when playing The Evil Within. It offers much of the thrills and creepy environments that make the series so enticing, along with some of its frustrations.”
CNET (Jeff Bakalar):
“Certainly an acquired taste, The Evil Within is sure to satiate the horror fanatic. For those with an appetite for an investment-heavy exploit through the mind of a madman, The Evil Within is more than capable even with a few bumps along the way.”
The Sixth Axis (Tuffcub):
“Despite borrowing a lot of well-worn themes from other games and movies (Hello, creepy shop mannequins from Silent Hill), The Evil Within feels fresh and exciting. It’s easy to recommend to fans of the original Dead Space and the earlier Resident Evil games.”
Games Radar (Ashley Reed):
“When all is said and done (or maybe gored and hung), The Evil Within stumbles in a few too many places to be Mikami’s magnum opus. It artificially forces players into punishing combat scenarios more times than can be ignored, and plots and themes with great promise end up sputtering out in disheartening fashion. Still, it would be wrong to dismiss all the things it does right. Between a gorefest that’s thoroughly engrossing, amazing feelings of triumph created by the imposing difficulty, and a plot that gets to the core of some very unsettling themes, The Evil Within brings enough to the table that it deserves a taste. Just don’t ask where this dish came from. You don’t want to know.”
OXM (Matthew Castle):
“Evil Within grafts Resident Evil 4’s gold standard survival action to a far less forgiving world. That it even comes close to matching Capcom’s masterpiece is cause to celebrate. And sweat. And quiver.”
It certainly sounds as though The Evil Within will satisfy survival horror fans, provided they are willing to overlook some potentially experience-ruining flaws. Several of the reviews actually evoked Resident Evil 4 by name (in both a good and a bad way), which bodes well for the game’s appeal regardless of scores. Whether The Evil Within will be able to stand out among the overcrowded October, however, is yet to be seen.
Have you had a chance to play The Evil Within? Do you agree with the reviews so far?
The Evil Within is out now for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina