You like Resident Evil 4, right?
The Evil Within is the first game since Shinji Mikami’s classic that feels like it actually tries to improve upon Resident Evil 4, the greatest shooter and survival horror game ever made. Though Mikami’s new attempt at recreating that magic in The Evil Within is far, far from perfect, it’s the closest we’ve seen since.
Take almost everything you liked about Resident Evil 4, make it slightly worse, and you’ll have The Evil Within. That sounds like an incredibly backhanded compliment, but, as I’ve said before, a decent Resident Evil 4 is better than most games out there. The weird horror elements are there, along with Mikami’s excellent encounter design. Many fights feel like puzzles, with your increasingly large arsenal giving you new tools to dispose of enemies in clever ways.
The story beats fall mostly flat, and there are few great character moments to speak of. The game goes on a bit too long in and in too many directions, and some of the bosses are more irritating than scary. But the core Resident Evil experience is there, and it’s one I’ve been missing since the early 2000s.
Environments are hugely varied by the end of the game, as are the bosses and enemies. The upgrade system is satisfying, and choosing what to upgrade and when is a fun system to play around in. There just so much in the game, you’re bound to find something to impress you, even if the whole thing doesn’t gel. The Evil Within is built on unforgettable moments, stability be damned.
As much as I love The Evil Within for what it revitalizes, there’s a much better game hidden somewhere deeper inside it. I just hope Mikami gets another chance to bring it out.