Note: This article has been translated from Italian by ChatGPT and may contain errors.
After completing The Evil Within and surviving the daunting AKUMU difficulty (one-hit kill), I can say that Shinji Mikami has crafted a visionary, twisted, disturbed work. The plot is fragmented with various obscure points, left unresolved by a far-from-clarifying ending open to multiple interpretations. However, when the pieces of this surreal mosaic are assembled coherently, it’s evident that a story does exist, and it’s not even that bad. It becomes clear that several gameplay elements, seemingly standalone, also find narrative relevance. In a way, gameplay and storytelling are more cohesive than they might seem at first glance. It’s a shame for some characters who could have been better explored and characterized.
Psychological and splatter, The Evil Within falls short in inducing fear but is still appreciated for its atmosphere, dreamlike quality, and overall engaging gameplay, built upon the foundations of Resident Evil 4. The Evil Within is quite old-fashioned, especially from a technical standpoint, which I find to be quite poor. As for horror, a few anxiety-inducing sections aren’t enough to truly discomfort players. The tension weakens gradually, and after the tenth chapter, the game seems to have already showcased its best. The eleventh chapter is undoubtedly the least inspired part of the game, in all aspects. Then the game picks up again, albeit with the brakes pulled, culminating in a decisively interesting final battle that favors visual spectacle over gameplay. Nonetheless, I didn’t mind it at all.
A note on difficulty: In my opinion, the game provides all the tools to face each situation. There are two or three particularly challenging points (chapters 6 and 11), but nothing insurmountable or excessively complicated (on AKUMU, it’s a matter of patience and a pinch of luck to overcome certain situations). Nothing groundbreaking, but I believe Sebastian’s journey is something that genre enthusiasts shouldn’t miss, despite a few missteps. Tango Gameworks has done a commendable job.
Resident Evil Within 2
Shinji Mikami isn’t the director of the game. Bad? Good? Indifferent? Honestly, I haven’t noticed significant changes. Sure, the first title was more cryptic, dreamlike, and deranged, but The Evil Within 2 also holds up quite well, in my opinion. I don’t want to get into discussions about how horror it is, how tense or scary it is, or other assorted nonsense. For me, it’s horror, and while it didn’t make me anxious (except for a few rare moments, especially during the classic mode run), let’s skip those considerations. Let’s talk about The Evil Within 2, and just that.
The initial impact was moderately traumatic. By the second chapter, I was already thinking about the struggles and nerve-wracking moments I’d have to endure in the most annoying parts of the nightmare. Enemies kill you in two or three hits, acting stealthily requires some practice (but since death forces you to reload from the last save, maybe made an hour ago…), resources are minimal, and sometimes (more than I remembered) the only option is to eliminate all the monsters blocking your path. Now, the matter of only seven saves isn’t prohibitive, because within five or six hours, The Evil Within 2 can be completed easily (even less on lower difficulties with bonuses). If we assume a save every hour of gameplay, we’re good to go. But it’s not that simple, as you often wonder when the heck to save. Before that boss or that section? You have to know the adventure well (YouTube is helpful in this regard), but many parts leave you struggling repeatedly, making you want to save every ten minutes. This is a problem. There’s no way around it: you have to risk, try, attempt to survive as long as possible. If you die, you need patience, try again, perhaps overcoming tedious sections only for the chance to retry that tough spot. Maybe die again and again. Maybe finally beat it and die shortly after due to a mistake, then start over from the beginning. That’s exactly what happened to me. In terms of tension, well, it’s present, reasonably constant, with peaks in some areas and boss fights. It’s manageable enough.
Chapter 9, you can go to hell!
Ignoring some deaths between chapters 3 and 5 (the game has 17 chapters) that made me quite upset, the real trouble came with chapters 9 and 10. Between the fire monster fight in the room and the one in the house with Torres, I must have lost a whole day of attempts. I never thought I’d get stuck this much in these sections. After countless deaths and retries, I finally made it through, but this experience only made me more concerned about the subsequent parts, which I was certain would be more challenging than these chapters…
But they weren’t. I feared the boss fight with O’Neal. Passed on the second try. I feared the section amidst flames with Hoffman while being surrounded by fire monsters. Passed on the first attempt… then died right after and had to repeat it more than once, but that’s detail; the point is that it didn’t annoy me too much. I feared the fights with the dear bosses from the first chapter. Beaten on the first try. I feared the stone monsters and the mini-boss before the final battle. Passed on the first try. I feared the final boss. Defeated on the first attempt. In fact, from chapter 11 onwards, everything felt all too easy. I wouldn’t have dared to hope for that, so much so that (as I mentioned) I finished the game against all expectations. One thing, though, occurred to me. The classic mode, in my opinion, highlights some shortcomings that are easier to overlook on lower difficulties. Aside from the stiffness of some elements, I found some issues with the controls. At times, it seems that the game doesn’t register the input correctly. I press the reload button (tapping it fifty times per second) and it doesn’t reload, select an item from the wheel, and it isn’t used, execute a sprint, and at some point, it stops running. Things like these, things that on classic mode can cost you your life. Not to mention the aiming system, which could use some improvement. Sometimes, it’s unclear where the bullets are landing; it seems like you’ve hit enemies, but they remain unharmed. Quite annoying issues. In some cases, I think I died unfairly.
Easier Than It Seems
Now, let’s make a list of my saves (I don’t remember the exact points). So:
- The first save was in chapter 3.
- The second was in chapter 4.
- The third was at the end of chapter 6.
- The fourth was after killing Stefano (fortunately, on the first attempt) at the start of the infuriating chapter 9.
- The fifth save was in chapter 11, before the section to retrieve the chip and the boss fight with O’Neal.
- The sixth was right at the beginning of chapter 13, before heading to the hotel for the section amidst flames (a wise choice, by the way, because I died during city movement).
- The seventh was in chapter 14, before the boss fight with the old friends.
I don’t have specific advice for anyone attempting this feat: go stealth whenever possible, don’t waste ammo (obviously), avoid enemies when you can, don’t panic, stay calm, be determined and confident but not overly so, craft items at workbenches when possible (they require fewer resources), collect as many keys as possible and the rewards in the shooting range minigame, respect the shotgun (it’ll save your skin multiple times), but above all, arm yourself with patience. In the end, as I mentioned in the article about Outlast 2’s Insane mode, it’s all about endurance: you die, get a little frustrated, try again, and keep going until you succeed. The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t lies in whether the successful ones gave up or kept trying; the unsuccessful ones gave up… but really?