THE EVIL WITHIN
(published by Bethesda Softworks, developed Tango Gameworks)
platform played - XBOX 360
I admit that I have a problem with games that have linear stages with survival tests that center on patients and timing and I think this game beautifully demonstrates the reason why.
First, understand this game is above par on so many levels. It deserves its credit as a top-tier horror game. The imagery has the potential of haunting your nightmares, grabbing on all the terror tropes and pushing the limits, and eventually finding the kinks in your psyche. The crafting of the story and action sequences show a care for camera movement and scene framing. The skins and elements have great detail and add to the overall tone. The music and sound does a great job in complimenting the setting, amplifying the sadistic tone. This is a full package.
The story has depth, maybe too much for most players. The storyline for the protagonist, Detective Sebastian Castellanos, can seem convoluted, leaving you a bit behind while button-mashing to advance the chapters. I didn't mind the constant desire to need more answers as I progressed and let the story progress at the pace that was intended. I found it to be important and entertaining as the game reveals your unfortunate circumstances.
Now, the problem I mentioned earlier is the one hurdle I hate to jump. I appreciate the need to create a tense situation, moving with great caution and avoiding the 'baddies' as much as possible. But for THE EVIL WITHIN, this game deserves an 'A' (or 'F' if you will) for Frustration. The answers to the stage require you to do almost exactly what they present to you as the solution, subtly (and by subtly, I mean you will test other options that seem clear but only lead to your face being smashed in or head cut clean off). The freedom to do what you would do in any survival situation is so limiting that you question the developers need to create a challenging game. Why can't you cut off their heads when their down? Why can't you open or maneuver through objects placed in the scenes? You give us so much to look at guys, why can't I interact with at least some of it? As a trained survivalist, my frustration level was through the roof.