The Evil Within started with so much promise. With Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami serving as the first game’s director many were excited. But since the release of The Evil Within 2 the franchise has gone dark. With its sequel turning into Ghostwire Tokyo and no word on a future installment. With Microsoft now the owner of the IP after obtaining ZeniMax Media it’s time for the franchise to return. Especially now that demand for survival-horror games is at an all-time high.
Back in 2013, The Evil Within launched to mixed reception. Many expected a similar game to Resident Evil but The Evil Within set its own pace and edifice. Focusing on a combination of stealth and psychological terror, not to mention the infamous letterbox format that made it harder to see things.
Speaking of hard, The Evil Within is not an easy game. Not on par with the original Resident Evil games in terms of difficulty The Evil Within did test your fortitude. Especially for those who sought to 100% the game for that alluring platinum trophy for 1000 point achievement score. Those who did rise to the challenge, especially with the game’s DLC, found a gripping experience that rarely allowed you to rest. Throwing new enemies often made things even more one-sided such as invisible creatures, armored enemies, and even giving the enemies guns. It didn’t help that forced combat encounters combined with a very small amount of resources created a sense of animosity. Feeling like the game would punish players who didn’t have the foresight to save every bullet to prepare for an encounter they had no idea was coming.
The story did match this sense of dread and constant need for every advantage. Being in the mind of a serial killer you were often portrayed as a toy, a minuscule little nobody whose only purpose was to be this person’s plaything. You always felt small and insignificant, which is made even more obvious when you play through Julia Kidman’s and the Executioner DLC.
Since its launch, the first game has been regarded with much more positivity. The changes such as removing the letterbox requirement and technical patches have made The Evil Within a treasured game. More gamers appreciate the level of dedication that went into designing the psychological horrors within this nightmarish campaign. Especially among trophy/achievement hunters. The completionist goal is ranked among one of the highest accomplishments because of the game’s Akumu 1-hit death difficulty.
The Evil Within 2 did take feedback from the first game to create a more accessible experience. Not as challenging as the first game the title took many elements from the first game and refined them. Stealth was easier to manage, the game expanded on antagonists, and added a semi-open world. Most importantly the main character Sebastian Castellanos was given more personality. In the first game, he was often very calm despite everything that was transpiring but here felt more like a real person. A father attempting to save the family he thought he lost.
It was a massive improvement in gameplay wise and the narrative went above and beyond with its dark insidious tones. Never shying away from gruesome acts and dealing with heavy subjects manners such as life-destroying trauma, sociopaths, and suicide. It was more action focused than the previous game but The Evil Within 2 benefited from this direction. Offering more exciting boss fights leads to a profound ending that perfectly combines tension and emotion.
Since the release of The Evil Within 2 many have asked about a possible sequel. The end of the latest game left behind a massive cliffhanger that many want answering. Especially now seeing that survival-horror games are incredibly popular. Capcom’s remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3 were huge successes and companies started investing more in horror games. EA is reviving Dead Space despite killing it, Dead Space creator is releasing a new game called The Callisto Protocol, Capcom is remaking Resident Evil 4, The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me, and Silent Hill 2 is getting remade.
Microsoft has an extremely hot IP as The Evil Within still has a strong audience behind it. And the games received a mostly positive reception from fans since its debut. If you’ve not experienced The Evil Within and looking for a psychological horror experience that will have you questioning reality, this is the franchise for you.