The Evil Within
|The Evil Within|
|Engine||id Tech 5|
The Evil Within, known as Psycho Break (サイコブレイク Saiko Bureiku?) in Japan, is a third-person psychological survival horror video game developed by Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game was directed by Resident Evil series creator, Shinji Mikami, and was released worldwide in October 2014 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.
The game centers on protagonist Sebastian Castellanos as he is pulled through a distorted world full of nightmarish locations and horrid creatures. Played in a third-person perspective, players battle disfigured nightmare-like enemies, including bosses, using guns and melee weapons, and progress through the levels, avoiding traps, using stealth, and finding collectables.
The Evil Within received a generally positive reception upon release; praise was mostly directed at the game's horror elements, while criticism was directed at the game's technical issues.
The single-player story is arranged in chapters, which players complete in order to progress through the story. The game is played from a third-person perspective in which scavenging for supplies and learning when to fight or run are key factors in surviving the dangers of the game. Such dangers include: bear traps, barbed wire traps, bombs, and spike traps; 'The Haunted', the game's most common enemy; 'Reborn Laura', a multi limbed, long haired, crawling creature; Ruvik, the game's main antagonist; 'The Keeper', a large humanoid with a safe as a head who wields a large meat tenderizer hammer; and 'Sadist', a large humanoid wearing a spiked metal mask on his face, wielding a chainsaw and covered in blood.
Sebastian Castellanos, the protagonist, needs to make use of the environment and things he may find in order to survive. The game world can transform during scripted events and as a result of player actions, altering locations and creating new paths or teleporting the player to new areas. Castellanos must use medical items to restore health; some of these items cause temporary hallucinogenic effects. By collecting vials of 'Green Gel' hidden throughout the game, players can upgrade Castellanos' abilities; more ammunition, extra stamina, and additional health are some of the upgrades.
Players have a safe house called 'Safe Haven' that can be accessed during scripted events and by finding mirrors. The safe house is a mental hospital and has several accessible areas such as a save point, an upgrade room (where the player may upgrade Sebastian's skills), and the safe room where keys are used to open storage safes which contain useful items such as green gel and ammunition. These keys are collected by finding and breaking 'Madonna' statues hidden throughout the game's levels. There is a nurse called Tatiana who greets Sebastian when he teleports to the safe house.
The player has access to various weapons such as a revolver, shotgun, sniper rifle, knife, grenades, and the 'Agony Crossbow', a projectile weapon that fires bolts capable of freezing, blinding, electrocuting, or exploding enemies. Ammunition for weapons is very scarce, but mechanical components can be harvested to craft additional bolts. One source of components, bombs, serve as traps that react to the player's proximity or movement. Bombs can be stuck to walls or the floor, in chests, and in vending machines. The bombs can be disarmed via a minigame. Melee combat is designed only to create distance between the player and enemies, although the player can instantly kill some unaware enemies after sneaking behind them. Enemies that are downed or incapacitated are capable of reviving; to avoid this, players may set fire to the downed enemy using a limited supply of matches to permanently defeat them. Certain items in the environment, such as bottles, can be thrown to stun or distract enemies.
There are seven different types of collectables in The Evil Within: 'Personal Documents'; Sebastian's personal log, detailing his life as a detective and his life with his wife and daughter. 'Documents'; the personal logs of other characters. 'Map Fragments'; pieces of the game's map; once collected, they are stored at the safe house. 'Newspapers'; newspapers detailing events concerning or involving Sebastian. 'Missing Persons Posters'; posters of characters Sebastian encounters throughout the game who have been reported missing. 'Audio Tapes'; tapes containing a recording that can be played which are recorded by characters through the game. And lastly, Jade statues. Collectables can be found in levels themselves or in the safe house.
The player unlocks several bonuses for completing the game. Extra weapons, character models and bios, 'AKUMU' difficulty (the game's hardest difficulty level), and New Game+ are some of the unlocks.
The protagonist of The Evil Within is veteran police detective Sebastian Castellanos. He is aided by his colleagues Juli Kidman and Joseph Oda in confronting the invincible apparition Ruvik.
While investigating the scene of a gruesome mass murder at Beacon Mental Hospital, Sebastian, Joseph, and Kidman encounter a malevolent and powerful force. After seeing the slaughter of his fellow officers by a man wearing a white hood and covered in burn scars, Sebastian is ambushed and knocked unconscious. He awakens in a deranged world with Krimson City undergoing massive earthquakes, unreal shifts in terrain, and hideous creatures called the Haunted wandering the landscape.
He encounters a doctor named Marcelo Jimenez, who is searching for his patient, Leslie Withers. When Sebastian and the doctor find Leslie, they also encounter Ruvik, the man who slaughtered police officers earlier. Ruvik seems to have control over reality through teleportation and changing the terrain; he uses this to separate the trio and trap Sebastian in different horrifying locales that seem to be tied to the memories of individuals that Ruvik has experimented on. Elsewhere, Kidman seems to be pursuing Leslie more fiercely and appears unaffected by Ruvik's control.
Sebastian learns of the story of Ruvik, born Ruben Victoriano, through various flashbacks. Ruben was an intellectually gifted but mentally unstable child, and was close to his sister, Laura. While playing in a barn on their family's property, several men approached and set fire to the building as an act of vengeance against their parents, who had been buying and managing large amounts of land in the area. The fire killed Laura and left Ruben severely disfigured; Ruben's father began hiding him in the basement of the family manor. Deeply traumatized over Laura's death, Ruben eventually killed both of his parents, took control of their fortune, and continued to "donate" money to Beacon Mental Hospital in exchange for test subjects for his experiments.
Ruvik continued his experiments on the human psyche and mind for a time, until Jimenez betrayed him upon the near completion of their primary project, STEM: a machine meant to unite minds into one, felt and experienced by all those linked to it. Jimenez's apparent employer, an unknown organization, subjected Ruvik to a similar ordeal to what he had inflicted on others. The organization apparently abducted many citizens of Krimson City to test the STEM device, essentially linking everyone to Ruvik's world.
When Dr. Jimenez, aided by Sebastian, tries to use Leslie to return to reality, he realizes that they are inside Ruvik's mind, and Ruvik wants to transfer his mind to a capable host and escape into the real world. A beast created from Ruvik's subconscious then assaults the group and kills Jimenez. Sebastian escapes after defeating the beast and reunites with his partners to head for Beacon Mental Hospital, as they and the Haunted seem to be attracted to its lighthouse. Ruvik separates the group once more. Kidman finds Leslie first and is about to shoot him when Sebastian and Joseph intervene, prompting her to shoot and kill Joseph before Ruvik separates them again.
Sebastian finds Leslie and guides him back to the hospital where, at the top of the lighthouse, he sees his own body in a tub hooked to Ruvik's brain. Kidman arrives and attempts to convince Sebastian that Ruvik intends to use Leslie to cause widespread harm; she implies that she knows more about STEM and the chaotic reality they are in, but Sebastian holds her at gunpoint and is hesitant to believe her. Ruvik interrupts them, gets hold of Leslie, and absorbs him into the brain, throwing the world into even greater chaos. Sebastian battles a gigantic creature created by Ruvik's subconscious and defeats it, waking up in a bathtub. He pulls himself off the machine, removes Ruvik's brain from the STEM, and crushes it. He wakes up again in a tub with Kidman by his side, monitoring him; she motions for Sebastian to stay quiet. Sebastian falls unconscious soon after, and later wakes up in the same tub with no one around except for the other subjects in tubs, including Jimenez in a catatonic state. As police and S.W.A.T reinforcements arrive, he exits the hospital and notices Leslie walking out of the main gates. Sebastian has a brief headache -- a sign of Ruvik’s influence on subjects within the STEM -- which causes him to lose sight of Leslie. It is implied that Ruvik has returned to the real world through Leslie, and is able to influence those who were connected to his machine in reality, intending to take revenge on the organization that betrayed him.
The Evil Within began development in late 2010 under the codename "Project Zwei". Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami served as the game's director, with development taking place at his studio Tango Gameworks. The studio was bought by ZeniMax in 2010, shortly after development began. Mikami said that he wanted to make a survival horror game as he believed that contemporary horror games relied more on action than survival.
The game was announced in April 2013. Believing that the tropes of the survival horror had become predictable over time, the design deliberately attempts to make the player feel powerless by taking place in confined spaces, limiting ammunition, and presenting near-invincible enemies that promote running and hiding over engaging in combat. Art director Naoki Katakai said that the design concept of enemies, such as those wrapped in barbed wire or filled with glass shards, is that they are victims suffering under a greater evil. The asylum itself was inspired by the Winchester Mystery House, a Californian mansion famous for its architectural curiosities.
The Evil Within is built on the id Tech 5 modified by Tango Gameworks with a new dynamic renderer enabling dynamic lighting to the game. Tessellation is also added. On April 15, 2013, and over the next few days, Bethesda Softworks revealed a series of short cryptic videos teasing the new game, officially announcing it on April 19, 2013, revealing the title, the platforms it will be released on, and a live-action teaser trailer. A second trailer was released on September 17, 2013 and an extended gameplay video was revealed on September 27, 2013. Bethesda announced that the game had gone gold on September 25, 2014.
The Evil Within was released in October 2014. In Japan, the game was released as Psycho Break. The Japanese version had to remove gore-related content to receive a D-content rating (allowing its sale to customers 17 years of age or older) to avoid limiting its potential audience; this content can be restored via optional DLC.
Several things were done to promote the game before release. Warner Bros. Movie World in Queensland, Australia, created a maze populated with real-life characters from the game as part of its annual Fright Nights event. In August 2014, just before the release of the game, Titan Comics released a four part mini series of comic books. The events in the mini series take place before the events of the main game. The comics are also titled The Evil Within. The Art of the Evil Within, a book collecting concept art and behind-the-scenes material from the game, was released by Dark Horse Comics alongside the game on October 14, 2014.
The game also features downloadable content (DLC) missions which feature Julie Kidman and the enemy, the Keeper, as playable characters. A story-based campaign following Kidman will be released as two separate DLC packs, which introduce new enemies, locations, and focus on unsolved mysteries from the main game. The first of the two DLCs, titled The Assignment was released on all platforms in March 2015 worldwide, while The Consequence followed later in April 2015. The final DLC content, The Executioner, follows the character called The Keeper through a series of mission-based levels with sadistic objectives. The content allows players to play in a first-person perspective and was released on May 25, 2015. The Evil Within is prominently used in cosplay.
The Evil Within received generally positive reviews from critics upon release. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox One version 76.26% based on 23 reviews and 79/100 based on 24 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 75.44% based on 45 reviews and 75/100 based on 65 reviews and the Microsoft Windows version 63.11% based on 9 reviews and 68/100 based on 18 reviews.
Computer and Video Games (CVG) described it as "the game Resident Evil 5 should have been", although they were critical of some technical issues. VideoGamer.com liked the gunplay and horror, but disliked the story and its pacing, stating: "The Evil Within has enough magic to make it a worthy investment." Destructoid said: "[The game] will definitely scratch the itch of someone who has been pining for a return to the older days of gaming, but everyone else who has come to expect that certain layer of polish likely won't be amused." Polygon's Philip Kollar summed up his thoughts by saying: "The Evil Within has great moments where the excellent combat and creepy environmental design come together. But those moments are fleeting, inevitably sapped of their delightful terror by design choices that feel trapped in the glory days of a decade ago."
GamesRadar's Ashley Reed gave the game a 3.5/5, commending the game for providing innovation and a story that keeps the player involved. Even though she mostly liked the game, Reed had several criticisms, stating: "The Evil Within stumbles in a few too many places to be Mikami's magnum opus. It artificially forces players into punishing combat scenarios more times than can be ignored, and plots and themes with great promise end up sputtering out in disheartening fashion. Still, it would be wrong to dismiss all the things it does right. Between a gorefest that's thoroughly engrossing, amazing feelings of triumph created by the imposing difficulty, and a plot that gets to the core of some very unsettling themes, The Evil Within brings enough to the table that it deserves a taste."
Lucy O'Brien of IGN gave it a positive score of 8.7 out of 10 in her review of the game. She praised the gameplay and horror of the game, but criticized the boring protagonist, Sebastian, and the saggy and convoluted plot, stating that "while its story does end up buckling under its own ambition, there is little here that takes away from the joy of experiencing survival horror under the steady hands of a master of the craft."
Christopher Livingston from PC Gamer gave it a mixed review, praising the survival portions of the game, tense and often exciting atmosphere, satisfying stealth, exciting action sequences, as well as the nicely detailed environment, but criticizing the recycled, and very often, not scary bosses, poor character models, late texture pop-ins, sluggish control, frustrating camera angles, limited video options and poor decision on the aspect ratio. He stated that all these technical issues has dragged The Evil Within from enjoyably challenging to needlessly frustrating.
Tim Turi from Game Informer praised its high replay value, jump scares, well-executed lighting, dark, unpredictable world, as well as the sounds of enemies, but criticizing the distracting texture pop-in and disappointing story. He summarized the game as "an unnerving experience that keep your palms sweaty while delivering a harrowingly rewarding gameplay trial."
Shaun McInnis of GameSpot spoke well of its striking atmosphere, tense combat that encourages resourcefulness, and rewarding skill progression system, but criticizing the nonsensical story and forgettable characters, autosave system, and a few frustrating boss fights.
The Evil Within was the second best selling game in the United Kingdom for all-formats during the week of its release. In the United States, the game was the third best selling game of October 2014. The game set the record for the highest-selling first month of sales for a new survival horror intellectual property (IP), but the record was later broken by Dying Light, when it released in January 2015.
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