The original Evil Within was a promising but flawed game, and these are 5 major changes that can turn a good game into a great one.
No More Letterbox
It’s a seemingly small change, but over the course of the first Evil Within the letterbox effect became an increasingly annoying obstacle. Sure, it’s cinematic and creates anxiety over the limited visual space, but after 10 hours it can slip into frustration. Missing enemies and items because you simply couldn’t see the entire screen would turn horror into anger pretty quickly, so it’s no wonder this visual effect was eventually patched out. Thankfully the sequel needs no such reminder, with gameplay trailers already showing the letterboxing to be missing entirely. Let’s hope they keep it that way.
Fix the Story
Frankly, the plot of the first Evil Within is a bit of a mess. After completing the game, including the follow-up narrative DLCs, I was still left scratching my head about what exactly I’d played through. Fake realities, characters switching allegiances, secret organizations – these elements all sound like they’d mix together for some pretty intriguing stuff (hell, this is nothing next to Metal Gear), but it only left a confusing and muddled impression. I don’t want to say it needs to be dumbed down necessarily, but maybe we could get a plot that isn’t so… Incohesive. It only does a disservice to the horror when we don’t actually care what’s going on, and part of that can easily be solved with…
Like the story, The Evil Within’s strengths aren’t found in its characters. Sebastian Castellanos is about as bland and forgettable as a protagonist can be, and yes I did have to look up his name to remember it. Alongside a cast of equally drab and lifeless characters, Sebastian and crew made it very hard to emotionally invest in The Evil Within, sucking some of the thrill out of the horrifying scenarios they’d find themselves in. Sebastian himself even came with a tragic backstory surrounding the loss of his family, the details of which never actually come into play much during the game (and I’d by lying if I said I even remembered them). The Evil Within 2’s reveal trailer seems to hint at a bit more exploration of this backstory, hopefully an indicator of a more character-driven narrative.
Fix the Gameplay
The first impressions of The Evil Within made it look like Resident Evil 4’s gameplay placed in Silent Hill’s surreal and terrifying world. And while the horror aspect delivered, the gameplay never truly clicked. Despite coming from the director of Resident Evil 4, Shinji Mikami, The Evil Within never played quite as well. The controls weren’t as tight and rewarding, stealth was awkward and often trial-and-error, and the less said about some of the boss battles the better. It was so close to being great, and a simple tune-up of the controls and evolution of some of the less-than-stellar gameplay scenarios could bring The Evil Within 2 to greatness.
More Horror, Less Action
As stated, The Evil Within was a Shinji Mikami directed game. As the director of the Resident Evil series until 5 (AKA, before the series went downhill), he’s hailed as the creator of the survival-horror genre. Unfortunately old habits die hard, and despite being more horror focused, The Evil Within fell into the same trappings as the Resident Evils that came before it. Namely a sharp third act turn into action instead of horror. And while this does help to mix-up the gameplay and funnel the game into a bombastic climax, shooting dudes in an urban setting just isn’t very exciting after running from giant spider ladies and safe-head men. And while The Evil Within 2 has Mikami returning to direct, let’s hope he can keep the frights and chills going all game long this time rather than spiral into Michael Bay territory again.