Spoiler: I will try to be light on actual spoilers, but here is my absolute untainted first impression of The Evil Within. Do not take this as a review because my final impression could change.
I am a little over five chapters deep in this game. The first chapter made several promises that the rest of this game is not keeping. So let us get started.
Promise 1: This game might kill you.
I am still alive.
Promise 2: There will be dread.
Shortly after the game begins and the shit hits the fan, you encounter a large menacing brute. This portion serves as a great nail biting tutorial for sneaking…. and nothing more. Let me set the stage. You are in a rather vulnerable position before you manage to roam free. Your first objective is to get a set of keys to open a door and avoid the menacing brute who wishes to confine you. Utilizing the sneak ability and keen observational skills, you are able to swipe the keys and sneak out undetected. You sneak further away from him as you hear his groans grow dim. When suddenly you are attacked, mauled and sent limping away… the Brute knows where you are and is looking for you aggressively.
You learn how to hide. Then you learn how to distract the enemy. This Brute is always one step behind and it is a necessity to adapt to your environment and always be aware of his location. Now that you know how to sneak, hide and distract, moving past him is not too difficult… but you will be tense the entire time. Soon you will make your way past him to escape in an intense climax.
I was hooked. It was not absolutely terrifying but it was very eerie and satisfying. There was a compelling bit of build-up and sense of vulnerability that I really dug.
The Evil Within, then shifts locations from the drab walls and metal bars to a remote village. This remote village is somewhat familiar territory for the horror genre. Resident Evil 4 and 5 dipped into the idea and Fatal Frame is bathed in it. This portion of the game slows things down greatly. It is a lot similar to Resident Evil 4 except less tension. Your objective is to sneak by or dispose of most of your foes silently and doing your job right means you will not have to kill everything with a pulse. The enemies will react to sound so things like kicking doors, breaking windows and discharging your weapon will attract attention. I used sound to lure the horde into a trap. Then I later used the same trap to subdue the area’s boss.
I would love to say that this boss fight was scary or even intense. It was no more intense (and not all that different) than fighting the chainsaw foes in the Resident Evil series. But then this happened. Keep an eye on the body on the ground.
After that, the game decided to deliver a lot more creepy moments instead of “jump scares.” But still, No Dread.
I can’t think of any other “promises.” Ultimately my point is simply that I am let down by the lack of scary bits in this game. It is way too early to judge it, but I thought that by the midway point in the game, there would be a lot more things that would have made my hair stand on end.
The Jaded Gamer