‘The Evil Within’ review
By Adam Tatelman, Senior Columnist
A decade after leaving Capcom and the Resident Evil series, Shinji Mikami returns to the genre that put him on the map: survival horror. Touting his new titleas a return to form for a genre now oversaturated with scripted jump scares, Quick Time Events, and overblown combat sequences, Mikami’s The Evil Within somehow tumbles into each of those pitfalls. Whether you’re dealing with plodding, imprecise combat, hoary hordes of graphical glitches, or insultingly easy puzzles (often all at once), you will find nothing within that will scare you.
Detective Sebastian Castellanos becomes trapped inside the mind of a lunatic. After that, I can’t couldn’t tell you a damn thing about the game’s story or characters because the setting jumps around like a grasshopper on bath salts , phasing characters in and out of existence about as frequently as it deigns to insta-kill you with its horrible hit detection. I get that this reality is meant to be fluid, but after a dozen stage shifts it becomes apparent that the developers couldn’t settle on any one location and decided to go with the Mind World setup so they wouldn’t have to sacrifice any of their level designs. All this leads to a mess of random juxtaposition where nothing gels thematically with anything else (except the absent plot, which gels with nothing at all). Why not use the shifting mental landscape to explore Seb’s backstory instead of scrawling it on scattered journal entries? I’d be more invested in his survival if I knew the first thing about his personal stakes in doing so.
Are the scares ham-fisted? No. A heavyweight boxer who moonlights as a butcher is ham-fisted. The scares are so rote and predictable, reliant on disgusting visuals and derivative of older, better titles (Silent Hill, Mikami’s Resident Evil 4), that the game seems afraid of doing anything different than the hordes of action horror titles that fumble more than they frighten.
The Evil Within ends with a ridiculous scripted set-piece involving Seb firing a rocket launcher at a skyscraper-sized amalgam of flesh and bone. If that sounds like a horror game to you, by all means allow Mikami to profit from his reputation alone. Otherwise, avoid this game at all costs.