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I am the biggest baby when it comes to horror anything. I couldn’t handle Dead Rising, the first season of The Walking Dead gave me nightmares (when I wasn’t bawling my eyes out), and I could not hack Alan Wake. So when I found out that Bethesda was treating me to a presentation and a hands-on demo for their upcoming horror, The Evil Within, I was extremely nervous. How grossed out would I be? Would I yell out in front of complete strangers? Would I have to drink myself into a stupor in order to finally sleep and pray I won’t have nightmares? Fortunately for me, The Evil Within was not scary in the slightest. That’s probably not a good thing for Bethesda.
On paper, the game has everything you would think would add up to a pretty darn scary game experience. There’s gore, there’s not knowing what in the world is going on, there’s people doing some really deranged things that don’t make sense, there are horrible monsters that won’t die unless you knock them down AND set them on fire, and there are some monsters you can only run away from. It seems to contain the perfect ingredients for a great recipe of a survival horror game. Somehow, none of this gels together in the way that I’m sure Bethesda intended.
Where's me perks? Fallout-style!
Yeah, your hands will protect you against that. Good call.
The Evil Within is supposed to be a survival horror, but that’s a complete misnomer; it’s an action horror game. Health refills and ammunition were scattered all over every room I explored in. I found so many, I had to check my difficulty setting as I started to think it was set to the easiest setting. And yeah, it was not. When I think of survival horror, I think that ammunition is scarce, especially in instances where shooting something is the only way to put it down (before you light it on fire). Since melee will only buy the player time, not defeat the enemy, you would think ammunition should be a highly valued commodity, something that the player needs to be careful with and not waste a single bullet. Since you can find bullets in almost every room, feel free to shoot away like a cowboy. Granted, doing so can alert other enemies, but by then, the thought of more enemies in the room isn’t too horrifying or stressful.
In cut scenes, the game often relied upon typical suspense-building and scare tactics that you see in every horror movie ever made. Oh you mean after I cut into this cadaver and it suddenly grabs my hand with an abrupt crash of music, I’m supposed to be startled? Sorry to say, everyone saw that coming, even this complete wuss who jumps at every little suspense moment in movies.
What made it worse was the grainey art style the developers chose. I’m not sure if they’re trying to make it look antique or from an old black-and-white film with the grainey textures, but it only looks like something isn’t complete with the art design or code. The graininess also takes away from anything that could be scary, even something subtle as the way some of the enemies stare down on you before charging.
I was fully prepared to be humiliated at this demo and to write about how much this game terrified the big sissy. For a game as hyped as Bethesda has pumped this one, I’m honestly flabbergasted at how not scary it really was. I was also surprised with how easy the combat felt. Shoot the things. Set the things on fire. On occasion, run from the things or hide from the things under the bed. Maybe the story holds it all together; something certainly has to.
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