PAX East 2014: Initial thoughts and impressions of The Evil Within 

ne of the floor spaces particularly bustling with a bevy of attendees was Bethesda as attendees eagerly trafficked into line to see two games showcased, one being a playable demo, and the other; a presentation demo.

While I covered both, I figured I’d start off the pair with the game that’ll would be the most exhausting to express in my impressions; The Evil Within makes its first showing at PAX East since E3 of last year, and if the demo is any indication of the direction that will lead to the final product then it’s with a heavy heart that I foresee it being a memorable disappointment at best for the year of 2014.

When The Evil Within was initially teased with the reveal of Shinji Mikami directing the development no less, the excitement for the title was palpable among the video game community to say the least; the demo portraying current state of Evil Within flushes that all down the drain.

One of the more distressing factors is that gameplay and pacing of Evil Within completely undermines the conventions and design of what it claims to be. As we watch the protagonist Sebastian wander down corridors entrenched with garish fixtures surrounding walls covered in all things unholy and demonic, there’s never a slight hint of reaction from him or any expression for that matter. The terrifying atmosphere The Evil Within aspires to create, only goes as far as to deliver a macabre aesthetic that’s convincing at face-value, to then have it instantly rendered into a paper-thin backdrop because of the robotic behavior of character and his apathetic presence within the world.

As the demo on, Sebastian reached the first enemy encounter and the combat only further discouraged any sense of horror or survival for that matter; his arsenal and utilities displayed in the melee transformed my impression of the supposedly unfortunate detective into soulless carbon copy of Bruce Campbell’s Ash of The Evil Dead—minus all of the charisma. The first weapon used was a Crossbow capable of firing a spread-shot, which temporarily freezes any enemy shot by it, in place, with a web that boasts both a substantial range, and environmental reach against multiple enemies. This kind of combat is ideal for an action game, but going off the expectations for the experience that The Evil Within declares to be, it was completely jarring to see the gameplay accommodate players with so much firepower, in a scenario where they’re never supposed to have a degree of command like that.

Other firearms included a magnum and assault rifle with chambers that were almost as surreal as the shit he shot considering there was never a point where Sebastian reloaded, or even seemed concerned with his supply of ammunition for that matter; and that’s when The Evil Within began to appear like a dull one-man army power fantasy, devoid of any fear, or any emotion honestly.

Since we were only given a demonstration, there was no way to get a hands-on impression of the gameplay, but aside from the disheartening context implied out of the demo displayed, it won’t do a whole lot to save the game from being a lazy gore porn afflicted with a total dearth of character. The Evil Within is slated for an August and if keeps to the course that was showcased here at PAX, the result will most assuredly be Shinji Mikami bombing his first venture in game development on the Next Generation of gaming.

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