The Evil Within is a game released several years too late. Directed by Shinji Mikami, the creator of the hit horror game series Resident Evil, it feels out of touch with modern game designs.
Players control Sebastian Castellanos, a police detective in the fictional Krimson City. While investigating a mass murder at a hospital, Sebastian and his colleagues are attacked by a mysterious hooded man and end up in a strange world with a shifting landscape. Zombie-like enemies, called the Haunted, roam this world.
The game is split into 15 chapters, each taking about one to two hours to complete. Each chapter takes place in a different environment, with players sent through decrepit buildings, sewers, a castle and even a mediaeval town without a hint of an explanation.
The story, which felt convoluted and disjointed, started to make some sense only halfway through the game, and it turned out to be dull and cliched because of its one-dimensional characters and lacklustre ending.
Where the game shines is in the sound effects that create an unnerving atmosphere, leaving players with a sense of dread and fear as to what is lurking around the corner. The game is also generous with gore, serving up plenty of blood, guts and violence.
The combat is hard-hitting and satisfying. Headshots with the revolver and sniper rifle work a treat, while blowing enemies into chunks with shotgun blasts and explosive crossbow bolts never gets old.
An upgrade system lets players choose what to focus on, such as increasing their maximum health or upgrading their guns.
Compared with other similar games, The Evil Within felt challenging but also frustrating. However, if you enjoy edge-of-the-seat shoot-outs, you might relish taking on the game's many tough enemies with a limited supply of ammo.
Even so, you are likely to be frustrated with the game's lack of directions, which forces players to die repeatedly until they stumble across a solution. Also souring the game are some unreasonable gameplay elements, such as bosses who would suddenly appear and can kill players with one hit, or recycled bosses which appear multiple times.
The game's graphics are disappointing for a modern game. Late texture pop-in, frame rate drops and poor character models marred the atmosphere. I also found the controls unresponsive at times. More than once, Sebastian stumbled into a trap or an enemy's attack because of the sluggish and imprecise controls.
There are some great moments in the game, but they are few and far between. The Evil Within feels like a lost sequel to Resident Evil 4 and ends up feeling archaic by today's standards. Only hardcore horror fans need apply.
Colin Tan is a freelance writer.
Price: $55 (PC), $74.90 (Xbox One; PS3; PS4, version tested), $79.90 (Xbox 360)
This article was first published on Nov 26, 2014.
Get a copy of Digital Life, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.