(PS4 / PlayStation 4)

The Evil Within (PS4 / PlayStation 4)

Game Review

The Evil Within Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sammy Barker

Clair de Loony

The Evil Within knows how to make you sweat. Tango Gameworks’ disgusting debut outing will leave you teetering on the precipice of failure with every twisted encounter, causing you to curse your shortage of resources or your character’s lack of superhuman strength. This is a game that, like its survival horror superiors, isn’t satisfied with slowly whittling away at your sense of safety – it wants to erode it at every opportunity. And while this pervading sense of danger does result in some controller damaging difficulty spikes, the game certainly succeeds at keeping you on the edge of your seat. Just try not to fall off.

Unlike the recent Alien: Isolation, you’re rarely powerless here. Detective Sebastian Castellanos, an indifferent law enforcer with a problematic past, is quite the whizz when it comes to a variety of different weapons, giving you copious options when it comes to combat encounters – well, in theory at least. As with the Resident Evil games of old, the title’s real genius is that you’ll never have quite the right resources to deal with a situation in the way that you’d like, forcing you to think on your feet. Conveniently, the character’s varied arsenal facilitates this, as familiar firearms such as handguns and shotguns are complemented by Agony Bolts.

These lethal crossbow projectiles come in a variety of different forms: an ice arrow, for example, will freeze any of your foes within a certain radius, giving you time to scavenge for ammo or map out a deadly plot of murder. Other options include electricity induced bolts and exploding darts, each tuned to activate when an unsuspecting enemy comes into contact with them. This trap-based gameplay becomes a major part of the third-person shooter’s moment-to-moment massacre, with foes placing tripwires and explosives in an attempt to catch you out. With so few materials of your own, though, turning the tables with these environmental elements becomes paramount.

You can, for example, attract shuffling herds of the undead using discarded bottles, and obliterate the confused corpses with a timely shot into a discarded barrel of flammable fluid. The artificial intelligence isn’t so idiotic that it will bend to your every whim, though, so you’ll constantly need to consider ways of adapting your approach. A running villager – the modern day equivalent of Resident Evil 4’s torch touting Ganados – can be toppled with a risky bullet to the kneecap, but will get straight back up unless you rush right over and set the corpse alight with an unassuming match. Other antagonists are not quite so forgiving, draining your resources with reckless abandon.

However, it’s these boss type adversaries that will test your patience at times. One such invisible enemy – that best resembles Zoidberg from Futurarama when in sight – is atrociously designed, forcing you to blankly fire your few bullets into thin air until the greedy creature has his tentacles all over your face. Another recurring rival, with spindly legs and long black hair, will simply bash your brains in each and every time that she invades your personal space. And that’s without even mentioning some of the major fights towards the latter half of the 15 to 20 hour campaign, which will have you screaming in outright irritation rather than the terror.

At least the art direction is spot on, with the Japanese horror influences evident in each ghastly creature design. There’s a little too much torture porn for our particular tastes, but the release does eventually end up adopting a more psychological route, with the narrative facilitating environments that adapt with repulsive regularity. In fact, this is one of the game’s stronger elements, as room layouts totally transform in realtime and more. It’s just a shame that, with all of the sharp environmental and enemy designs, it doesn’t look better on a technical level, as the game engine is prone to a frightening amount of texture pop-in.

Framerate fluctuations are also an issue, especially in areas of high activity. There are a few points throughout the arduous escapade where the title ditches its corridor-based encounters, adopting miniature sandboxes in their place – but, while these are among the most enjoyable moments from a pure gameplay perspective, the spacious environments can prompt the performance to take a nosedive. Load times are also unacceptable, with some sections pausing for up to 20 seconds while you wait for the action to reappear. This completely breaks any sense of tension, of course, even if you are kept occupied with some grotesque pieces of artwork.

Fortunately, that’s somewhat appropriate, as this is a gross game from start to finish. Rather than upgrade your arsenal and abilities with fake cash found in boxes and barrels, you’ll instead gather up green gel – or brain juice – which is then injected into your head. Elsewhere, in an obligatory abandoned mansion sequence, you’ll stick probes into partially exposed brains in order to open mechanically locked doors. The game even sees you gazing into cracked mirrors in order to visit an abandoned hospital – which doubles as a save point, and a place for you to open lockers with keys that you locate around the world.


At its controller clutching best, The Evil Within evokes memories of Silent Hill’s high points – but it’s the Resident Evil comparisons that are most consistent throughout. Unfair difficulty spikes swap out the title’s pervading sense of fear for outright frustration at times, while technical issues undo the developer’s outstanding art direction. Thankfully, legendary director Shinji Mikami doesn’t disappoint in the gameplay department, forcing you to get creative with your plentiful combat options due to an unending absence of resources. It’s here that developer Tango Gameworks finds the breathless brilliance within.

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User Comments (51)



DerMeister said:

I've never really been a huge survival horror kinda guy, with the only games I've really played being the Resident Evil series. That said, I have been curious about this one, but judging from your review it seems more difficult than scary, at least to me. Though since the guy talking here can get jumpy rather easily (seeing me around spiders is great entertainment value), I'd probably have sleeping problems regardless.

I'm still somewhat interested in it though. I'll probably approach with caution.



BigDaddyT0101 said:

The king is back. Limited checkpoints, lack of resources, better to flee than fight, im loving everything im reading. Havent cranked into it, and am waiting till friday to do so (friends coming over, we all swore not to touch the game till the weekend) wife and kid going away to visit some family, 1st time in 6 years i will have a weekend off and the house to myself. Gonna set up 4 ps4s, order some pizza, and crank this game out all at once. Should be a good time.



Tunmats said:

Watched some gameplay and It feels like the voice acting is a bit off (my opinion). Good voice acting is very important to me, since I can't take a game seriously if it's bad.



Paranoimia said:

Haven't been overly impressed by anything I've seen of this... even PS4 footage looked distinctly PS3. Now I know it's one of those that frustrates, I won't bother. I've got Resi 4 and Code Veronica on PS3 that I bought ages ago and haven't played yet, so if I get the urge for some survival horror, I'll play those instead.



Weskerb said:

So they sent you a copy, but not Eurogamer! I wonder what Eurogamer did to piss them off?



SteveButler2210 said:

@get2sammyb Couple of questions here. Firstly, out of interest what difficulty setting is this review based on, and can you comment on any of the other difficulty levels? Just because I've seen elsewhere (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/editorials/reviews/12435-The-Evil-Within-Review) that reviewers were specifically asked by Bethesda to play on the easier setting, so was wondering what level this review is based on?

Secondly, it's also been mentioned reviewers were provided with advice / tips for all levels of the game, including crucial stuff that potentially wasn't made easy to work out at all by the content of the game alone? I know you wouldn't be able to comment on the exact details, but as well as the above point re difficulty I'm interested to know if you received these tips, and if so whether you used these tips, and what your thoughts are on how they impacted the game (ie, would it have significantly increased player frustration levels if these tips hadn't been there)?



NAZA-187 said:

Reviews are making me think twice on getting this game think il jus borrow it from someone in the future.



get2sammyb said:

@Ginkgo It's very different to Outlast. That game left you feeling completely powerless in almost all situations, whereas here you have plenty of scope to fight — you'll just find yourself with limited resources to do so. That's arguably the game's best asset, though, because rather than sticking with one weapon, you're forced to experiment.

@thahammerman333 The story telling and dialogue is very Japanese, in my opinion. I don't think it's particularly bad, but it's no The Last of Us or anything like that.

@readyletsgo No. Sadly, it's not really worth our time going back over the same game at this busy part of the year. I think it's safe to assume that the PS3 version will be the same, with worse graphics. Considering that the PS4 version doesn't look so hot at times, that could mean that the PS3 version either looks really bad, or largely comparable. Sorry I can't give you more information than that.

@SteveButler2210 I played it on the normal difficulty, which is what I review all games at. I wasn't told to play on a lower setting at all, and mostly found the challenge just right. Like I mention in the review, though, there are some moments where the difficulty spikes dreadfully, and they can be really frustrating.

I did receive the tips also, but didn't open them until one later boss encounter, which I'd already figured out the solution for, but couldn't execute. Fortunately, the tips reinforced my strategy, so I didn't use them again.

@NAZA-187 Reviews look pretty good to me. I know 7/10 shows as yellow on Metacritic (which is ridiculous), but on our scale that's 'Good'.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

Bethesda seem to be making some pretty average stuff at the moment. I can't help but think its all a waste and they should have just done fallout 4



Faruko said:

Great review, i really wsnt to olsy this but Ill wait some time before i buy it need to get Bayonetta 2 for the WiiU and i still need to finish Styx Master of Shadows on the PS4

It doesnt look like a proper PS4 game, textures look half finished & very low resolution, you can clearly see that this game was nmde in a rush for PS4/XB1



get2sammyb said:

@Bad-MuthaAdebis This is their publishing arm, though, innit — I'm sure Fallout is still very much in the works. That said, I know Wolfenstein and this have been divisive, but I reckon both are worth a shot.



SteveButler2210 said:

@get2sammyb fair enough, that was what I was hoping for, but thought I'd double check! On the whole I'm definitely interested in this one, as I like most of what I'm hearing in reviews. Looks like I'll be dropping some hints for this and Shadow of Mordor for my birthday next week, while I save my cash for AC Unity and Far Cry next month!



GraveLordXD said:

The main thing that might bother me is the unfair difficulty spikes, I love a fair challenge no doubt I mean the souls series is one of my favorites but I don't like when a game is hard especially all of a sudden just for the sake of being so, also the technical issues... what a shame
Also like others have mentioned this looks more like a ps3 game and I may pick this up for my ps3 when it's $20 as I don't want to miss out on this entirely.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

@get2sammyb wolfenstein was okay but I smashed through it in a couple of days and traded it in, elder scrolls online seems to be ok, I'm hoping it turns out well when we eventually get it.



GraveLordXD said:

@Bad-MuthaAdebis wolfenstien imo was a blast I'm old school though and you do realize Beth has nothing to do with the development of this, wolfenstien or elder scrolls online right? Just publication



Reverandjames said:

"Unfair difficulty spikes" should not be a negative point of a game. A lot of other reviewers and people who I know who have praised it's challenging sections. People need to stop relying on having their hand held through games, and remember what video games are all about: a Challenge.



get2sammyb said:

@Reverandjames I disagree. Banging your head against a wall for 90 or so minutes when you know exactly what needs to be done but can't execute it because the difficulty has been poorly tuned is a negative — even though I agree that it's not a game breaker.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

@LDXD yep, I really think that wolfenstein and evil within should have stayed as ps3 games and maybe had a later upgrade to ps4, it was a mistake and obviously money was the motivation to slap them on xb1 ps4. Elder scrolls online I have hope for as it ain't cross gen and they've also had the sense to delay the release.



get2sammyb said:

@ZeD Maybe others will be better at the game than I, but I certainly got stuck on a couple of boss fights — not due to a lack of ammo or anything like that, but because they're just so darn hard.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

My biggest disappointment with this game is that it doesn't sound as brutal or visceral as I had hoped, guns and freezing bolts are all a bit boring and daft to me, fire, knives, broken bottles, makeshift weapons are all more interesting. Meathooks and broken bottles are where its at for me.



sinalefa said:

Thanks for the review. It seems I will wait for a price drop.

Regarding difficulty spikes, I hate them. I am currently playing Wolfenstein in the normal setting, and there is a part I cannot beat, as the enemies are overpowered and there is not enough ammo to defeat them. I am tempted to either lower the difficulty or quit the game altogether.



GraveLordXD said:

@Bad-MuthaAdebis yeah seems like so far most games should have probably stayed last Gen oh and I agree about the freezing bolt weapons seems out of place in a game like this a few guns I don't mind but I'm still more than likely going to get this when it's very cheap



Reverandjames said:

@get2sammyb I perhaps didn't word my comment as well as I could have, it depends what you define as an 'unfair' difficulty spikes. I think as gamers, we are generally a bit desensitised to what a real challenge is, and this is based on how many reviews I see who highligjt the difficulty level as being a negative.

Your opinion is your opinion at the end of the day, and I respect it.



MadchesterManc said:

I hear its not as tense or thrilling as Alien Isolation, which with the game coming from Shinji Mikami is a tad disappointing, so I'll be sticking with the ol' Alien for my late night, fear induced gaming sessions. I'll probably try this when the price has dropped a little.



Alpha said:

@BigDaddyT0101 I miss days like that, i did the same thing a few friends 3 years back when Skyrim came out. Got some Pizza, Coke and pepsi, 4 bags of Potato chips, and played for 2 days straight. It was a lot of fun.



Munkyknuts said:

I'm not a huge fan of Japanese horror influences, wasn't when Silent Hill 4 did it and not really now either. The game looks ok graphics wise and looks well designed with well considered art style. Torture porn has gotten tiresome too, but if it does go off into a more psychological kind of horror as well then it might be worth giving a shot but I think I'll leave it for a while. I'm really not sure what I make of the game yet.



DrJoeystein said:

A concise, informative review. Nice, Sammy! As someone who loves survival-horror and has played all six of the main RE titles (I wish I hadn't played RE6 though ), I'm still really interested in The Evil Within. The gameplay looks fantastic, and though there might be technical issues and frustrating bosses, I bet I'll have a lot of fun once I get my hands on this.



get2sammyb said:

@Bad-MuthaAdebis It's pretty gross. In fact, until the second half where it goes a bit psychological, I was worried it was going to be all torture porn. I wouldn't worry about there being a lack of gore - it's there in spades.

@LDXD I don't know. I think Alien: Isolation is overall more tense, but I love the combat variety in this, and the way it forces you to think on your feet. If I had to pick one of the two, I'd probably go with The Evil Within, simply because I prefer the Resident Evil approach. That's a personal choice, though. They're both good games.

@MadchesterManc Yeah, it's no where near as tense as Alien. Shinji Mikami's end of the bargain shines in the combat, though, which is very layered and fun.

@DrJoeystein Thanks Joey - based on what you just said, I think you'll love it.



DerMeister said:

@Reverandjames I can understand how you feel. Today's gamers are somewhat spoiled in terms of how challenging games are these days, but just tuning up the difficulty without properly accommodating for it borders on bad game design.

Not saying this game does this, but I kinda feel that the "truly difficult" games today are sometimes hard for the sake of being hard. I understand games can be easy for the likes of us who grew up in between the NES and PS1's lifespans, but having games being stupidly hard is just kinda poor.

Difficulty by all means is not a bad thing. But not managing it properly leads to an ugly can of worms.



KelticDevil said:

I really want this game, as I am a huge survival horror fan. Just not sure if, like Alien: Isolation, I should just get the PS3 version or wait till I get a PS4 to give it a shot.



Reverandjames said:

@DerMeister Yeah, I agree with you there, some games are difficult to the point of not being fun anymore, and we are definately spoiled in the sense that games now need to be completeable within a weekend which sucks. I remember owning 1 game for months and not being able to beat them for a long time.

My gripe is the fact that a few reviews I have read now have marked the game down due to cheap deaths, and frustration encountered in the game whereas other reviewers have welcomed the challenge. I think there needs to be more of a valid reason why games get lower scores than 'it was difficult'.



Gamer83 said:

Good to see it's not a complete disaster. I read some previews around late-Summer and it didn't seem like this was headed in the right direction. Thankfully that doesn't appear to be the case. Seems like a game to put on my list for when Best Buy does one of its Buy 2 Get 1 deals that happen every fall.



GraveLordXD said:

@get2sammyb thanks for the response, so I take it they are both equally good and aggravating
I will more than likely pick up alien because I'm in love with that universe. I'll get this later, hopefully I still have hair after all this if not I'll post a pic of me ripping it out



KelticDevil said:


You'd probably be safe buying the PS3 version. Like most of these 'cross-gen' releases, this game started as a PS3 game & they 'upgraded' it to PS4.

The ones you want to avoid are ones like 'Shadow Of Mordor'. The PS3 version of that was made by a completely different company.



MortalAmbition84 said:

Am i the only one not willing to pay 60 dollars for a game that looks very last gen.....as this one does.



artemisthemp said:

@Ginkgo What makes Outlast scary is that you can't fight back and only can survive by ruining.

The Evil Within isn't scary so to speak except for the fear of losing progress due to not saving or making a mistake.



consolfreak1982 said:

just got this game again for a very cheap Price
I had this on xbox one when it came out initially
and now - two years after that - the game does live up very very well - in fact, its even better than I remembered it
The black Cinema stripes which covered much of the Screen can be turned off now - also Id say the game Looks better and Plays smoother on the PS than on the Xbox.
The game Features a very tense atmosphere (although some "wtf moments") and a more slow/stealthy Approach on the "Resi4Gameplay" - the worst part of the game is its Story, which has an intriguing start but gets overly freaky pretty fast and gets more and more so the more you come near to the end of the game.
If I had to rate it - it (still) deserves an 8/10.

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