OXCGN’s The Evil Within Review


There is something special about a horror game that can create genuine moments of terror but still have a strong character capable of defending themselves. It feels like there’s been an abundance of indie games that only give you the chance to run and hide from opponents but now we’ve been blessed with The Evil Within. It gives you an arsenal of weapons with intelligent enemies that will keep your stomach tossing and turning the entire 15 hours of gameplay.

The game begins with an overused premise present in nearly every horror story; an asylum. You’re detective Sebastian Castellanos and it’s your job to investigate what’s happening in an abandoned asylum in the middle of town. You encounter bodies lying everywhere, blood splashed across the rooms and a mysterious hooded character, Ruvik, who serves as the games antagonist. It doesn’t take long for the game to becomes a tad confusing sending you off to various locations, seeing weird visions and sending cryptic messages that will plague you for the first six hours or so. After pulling through to the end of chapter eight you will start to see this story enfold, learning about the eccentric characters, understanding what’s happening to you and giving you a sense of purpose to continue on this creepy adventure. The story isn’t the strongest point in the game however I found it interesting enough to keep myself engaged and get to the terrifying stuff.

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The Evil Within’s world is constructed perfectly with a variety of settings that all have an exquisite mise-en-scene. The colour scheme, objects, sounds and lighting work in harmony to terrify you and keep yourself on edge the entire time you’re playing. What’s unusual about the presentation of this game is the use of a letterbox. Some might see this a ploy to block your view and prevent you from seeing enemies or items but I thoroughly enjoyed how cinematic it feels. It may be a small thing but having a letterbox transformed how the game looks and it is definitely a great creative decision.

I also have to applaud how stunning the lighting is.

There is a perfect balance between light and shadow that can either help or hinder you, adding to the unsettling atmosphere.

Something noticeable in the game is the music or lack there of. Mostly you will only hear organic sounds such as chainsaws roaring, doors creaking and monsters growling with an absence of instrumentals. There is the exception of an unnerving score during boss battles but the music is mostly used as an indicator to tell the player that there is a mirror nearby. A mirror transports the player to a hub that works as a safe haven, giving you a chance to save, upgrade and most of all take a breather. This hub is essential in most levels just for the sake of saving your progress since the game can be somewhat cruel with its checkpoint system. There are plenty of moments where you’ll be forced to replay entire sections and this gets tedious quickly. This is mostly due to the time spent waiting and planning whilst playing in stealth.

Stealth is a not a mechanic used in most AAA horror games such as Silent Hill, Resident Evil and Dead Space but in The Evil Within it plays a large part in your survival. Whilst traversing areas there’s an indicator at the top of the screen notifying you if an enemy either has you in sight or is searching for you. Whenever you are not in their sights you have a small window of opportunity to get a one-hit kill and these stealth finishers are important in keeping a solid amount of ammo. You don’t always have the chance to sneak around the place and there are quite a lot of times where the game forces you into it’s combat through shoot outs, alarms being raised or encountering bosses or special enemies.

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During combat you have a wide array of weapons to use as you see fit including a pistol, shotgun and crossbow. Each weapon is effective in different areas and the game limits the amount of ammo you carry, which encourages the player to try out new things and develop your own fighting style. I enjoyed headshots the most with my little pistol, mostly because headshots weren’t a guaranteed death and occasionally you’d get to see chunks of their head blown off. Also whenever you headshot an enemy they didn’t just stand there waiting to die, instead they run right at you, struggling to take you down.

All the enemies are relentless and they have some of the strongest AI I have ever seen in a horror game. They are never forgiving and won’t let you get a chance to attack them. You’ll be constantly moving around, area-to-area, trying to stop these creative and varied opponents which all have different weapons, sizes and strength. The bosses are designed magnificently and you’ll have plenty of fights struggling to keep calm and survive.

One of the most terrifying creatures you’ll come across are invisible, truly invisible, and you will have to use the environment to figure out where they are and successfully take them down.

One of the most important ways to subdue the enemy is the use of fire and in particular matches. Fire is most enemies’ strongest weakness and if you can manage to knock them over and light your match, you can take out enemies with one bullet. It’s also important to burn most bodies lying around because enemies will play dead and rise from the ground whenever you’re back is turned. You can also use matches to burn oil or haystacks to aid you and these environmental elements are extremely helpful.

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Scattered around most areas are bombs or tripwires which provides easy kills for you and you’re opponent as well as other sharp traps and poison gases. These things can be found pretty easy as well if you just take the time to explore each and every area, searching each nook and cranny. By exploring you can normally find quite a lot of resources to use to your advantage and find lots and lots of your upgrading tool; green goo.

Upgrading works in your hub area where you can a creepy looking chair that sends needles into your brain every time you select a new upgrade. There is an enormous amount of choice whilst upgrading including health, stamina, gun abilities and the amount of ammo or healing items you can hold. With such variety it really gives you a chance to create your own unique Detective Castellanos.

If only the game gave you the ability to change Castellanos’s personality because it got quite boring at times. I felt like he had quite a small vocabulary, using “shit” a lot, and he seemed disconnected from what was happening. He was cool and collected, refraining from reacting to the world around him and sometimes I felt like I mimicked his behaviour. It also doesn’t help having some horrendous voice acting.

The Evil Within does a perfect job of keeping you tense and on edge. My stomach would literally hurt after playing since the gaming experience would be too intense at times. It really does an amazing job with its creative and ever changing world and intelligent, diverse enemies giving you always something new to try out.

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TL;DR

The Evil Within is a creative survival horror game that has some of the most impressive opponents you can ever face. Combine this with its spooky and unsettling atmosphere obtained through the exquisite sound, lights and setting and you have one tense adventure that will keep you entranced for hours. Despite a somewhat dull story The Evil Within is an amazing game and a must play for survival horror fans.

Pros:

+ Intelligent and creative enemies

+ A tense atmosphere achieved through its design

+ A great upgrading system catering to the player

Cons:

– An alright story

-bad voice acting

8.5/10

Survival Horror Returns with The Evil Within


We go hands-on with two hours of the game

The survival horror genre has been in a bit of a weird place over the last couple of years.

Getting a glimpse of this old school genre in Dead Space, the sequels went for a more action oriented direction, leaving behind the slow paced nature of the genre in favour of bigger set pieces and an arsenal of weaponry.

Resident Evil saw itself follow the action route after Resident Evil 4, and as a result the fans haven’t been so forthcoming of the change. Creator of the Resident Evil series, Shinji Mikami – Formed Tango Gameworks in May of 2010, in hopes of returning to the roots of survival horror.

The studios first title The Evil Within, runs on a heavily modified version of the id Tech 5 engine that currently powers Wolfenstein: The New Order. It relies on t he staples of survival horror, from confined corridors, monsters that jump out at you around corners or burst through doors, scarce ammo in scenarios where you’re surrounded by half a dozen enemies and enemies that you seemingly cannot defeat.

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Good old jawless enemy #2456

The Evil Within is at its best when it puts you in situations where you’re low on ammo and you need to strategically think how to approach and defeat the enemies ahead of you. Players won’t just find random ammo scattered on the floor, so they’ll have to rely on smashing open crates in hopes of finding a few measly bullets.

Carrying a pistol, shotgun, bow with interchangeable arrows with different effects, the odd grenade and a knife, Detective Sebastian Castellano has a few items at his disposal to ensure his survival. In a twisted and warped world where evil can be anywhere, and the entire landscape can change in an instant, players need to be on alert.

The Evil Within’s scares don’t come from the random enemies bursting through barricaded doors or monsters that look scary even though they’re present, they come from tense situations where the player is overwhelmed and must think fast, with environments completely changing where you’re in a dim light corridor with a river of blood flowing at you to realising the stairs you just walked down from aren’t exactly there anymore. Whilst these sections are scripted, they do present a nice change of pace and a good sense of claustrophobia.

Whilst the game almost predominantly features blood, there’s a large emphasis on fire within the game, as Sebastian carries around a limited number of matches, which means the only way to truly eliminate enemies with The Evil Within is to burn them whilst they’re still alive.

Whilst you can shoot them and blow their heads clean off, due to the builds early nature and hit detection being a bit off, this unfortunately wasn’t the best course of action to ensure safety. To save ammunition, players can melee creatures and shoot them once or twice in hopes of downing them, here you need to get it in quick, light a match and set them on fire, where they’ll disintegrate into dust.

Be careful though as even though Sebastian carries a knife and can pick up a dropped axe, these weapons only prolong death. They cannot be used to kill an enemy, after attacking an enemy with Sebastian’s knife 3 times, it became immune and proceeded to attack me even though I kept on slashing. This is where the The Evil Within begins with its problems, but we’ll get to that a little later.

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Not really useful, when you can’t even kill enemies with it

The Evil Within does rely on a few set pieces to ramp up the tension in hopes of scaring players, various traps lay dormant within Chapter 8 and potentially the rest of the game world, but they only seem to activate when Sebastian triggers them, seemingly unavoidable. Whilst the trap in Ch 8 became tiresome after the first few times, the game’s main build of tension and stress comes from Ruvik.

The hooded figure that you’ve seen in almost all the games trailers, is in full force during both chapters.

As he seems to be the central character of the game, players unfortunately cannot kill him nor do any form of damage to him whatsoever. When he appears, it’s best to turn around the haul your ass in any possible direction. During Chapter 8 where Sebastian is in pursuit of two other characters who are unreachable behind a large bolted door, Sebastian must scour a mansion full of its own secrets and horrors, solving puzzles that include studying the human brain on live subjects whilst listening to recordings.

And the player does this all whilst eluding Ruvik, who materialises out of thin air.

With the ability to hide under beds or inside closets, players are warned of Ruvik’s approach when the lights dim and the screen turns a very dark blue hue. What they don’t know is where he’ll appear, as I found out the hard way after hiding in a closest, I found that Ruvik has the ability to randomly burst from within an enemy’s bodies, and if Ruvik touches you then its game over.

He’s got the “Touch of Death’, so expect to run when you see him, but be sure not to run too much as Sebastian’s stamina meter represents his lack of endurance. Sebastian has little to no stamina, crucial for when you run out of ammo and need to think quick. If you deplete Sebastian’s stamina, he’ll hunch over, breath heavily and compose himself for a few seconds, to which you have absolutely zero control of the character.

During the end sequence of Chapter 4, players will walk down a long brightly light corridor. At the end they’ll come up to a room where a pile of bodies lay on the floor. As scripted, a four armed creature will burst from the bodies, and reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s death in Nightmare on Elm Street, blood will spew in almost every direction. It’s here we encounter our first true horror and must run to safety or else, we’ll die. What will frustrate players about this sequence, is that they’ll easily exhaust Sebastian’s stamina and at times freak out because they’re about to die.

Yet when players reach the final act of this chase sequence, Sebastian miraculously gains unlimited stamina and you’re able to run right up to a closing door and slide under it, completely disregarding the fact that player’s have little no stamina for regular encounters.

You do NOT want to hold hands with that!
You do NOT want to hold hands with that!

Now seeing that the game has a new release date of October 23rd 2014, I can see why it was decided to push this game back, to not only focus on balancing the game but refine certain elements, which in their current state don’t work as well as I had hoped.

The game’s stealth mechanic is extremely hit and miss. In Chapter 8 after successfully entering a study on the mansions second floor, players come up against two enemies feasting on a dead body. Crouching and creeping up for a takedown, almost instantaneously, they’d stand up detect my presence and attack me. No amount of snail paced crouching could prevent this, meaning it’ was time to use up that precious ammo I searched for in every room before.

You can’t down enemies if you slash them with your knife and after a few hits they become immune and begin to attack you. With the pistol however, you can shoot an enemy in the stomach and they’ll most likely go down like a tonne of bricks for a few seconds. At times where you have no ammo but are maxed out with matches, it would be nice if the knife had some better use other than for takedowns.

If that’s not frustrating enough, The Evil Within seems to suffer from an excruciating camera that holds itself too close to Sebastian’s back. Unless I’m mistaken and this is for effect when opening doors and you cannot see what is around the corner, in tense situations or areas where you’re cornered, it’s quite hard to maneuver out of a tight spot due to the camera hugging you. The camera angle in most third person survival horror games is never an easy feat to achieve, so I hope that due to the push back in the game’s release we see an improvement in these areas.

The Evil Within in its current state isn’t necessarily a bad game, it’s got the staples of survival horror and it genuinely features some truly terrifying moments, but it is lacking a few crucial refinements that will hold it up there with the best. Fans of Shinji Mikami will eat this game up and love it, whilst others who aren’t as invested in the genre might find it just another game with mediocre gameplay and average scares.

If the two hours that I had the chance to play is any indication, The Evil Within has the potential to be a truly terrifying experience where playing with the lights off and the volume loud will send shivers down your spine.

Ruvik, not to be messed with
Ruvik, not to be messed with

Could the leaked Battlefield Hardline be 2012’s Cancelled Kickstarter Game Police Warfare?


EA Launches Battlefield Hardline Website Ahead of E3 2014

Battlefield Hardline, the latest entry to the Battlefield franchise, has been revealed after a leak preceeding EA’s launch of the teaser site. So far it seems that the game, in development by Visceral studios of Dead Space fame, will be a class based cops and robbers experience, with leaked classes including ‘The Mechanic’, ‘The Professional’, ‘The Enforcer’ and ‘The Operator’. Leaked images show icons for two factions, SWAT and Thieves, which will likely be the opposing forces in the game.

Whilst looking at Hardline’s reveal, our editors noticed some striking similarities to a game that went silent back in 2012. The question is, could this new Battlefield title be at very least linked to the 2012 kickstarter game “Police Warfare“?

The game was being developed by Elastic Games, a studio made up of ex-EA, Activision and Ubisoft employees. After the game’s kicstarter campaign was mysteriously cancelled, the developers issue a statement on their kickstarter page suggesting the game was still going to be made but have since been silent on the matter.

Hey Guys,

Thank you so much for the incredible response to the game. We’re shutting down the kickstarter account but this is by no means the end of Police Warfare. News will be coming. 

-EG TEAM

No news has followed this post in the last two years, and as yet there’s no tangible evidence the two are actually linked despite the similarities. At this stage we’ll just have to wait and see what EA announce at E3 to know for sure!

The leak suggests the game will launch on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One when it releases. Battlefield Hardline will be unveiled by EA on June 9th at E3 2014.

Jayden Perry ©2014

I’m Dead Serious – Dead Space is free for PC (For now)


 

As of recently, Dead Space is free to download from EA’s (DRM-laden) Origin Store.

Once added to your Origin account, this game is yours for good, and will remain in your Origin games library for you to install when you see fit.

On EA’s ‘On The House‘ page, it currently states:

Free?! What’s the catch?
There’s no catch. Grab full games, expansions and more at absolutely no cost. Just make sure to act fast because On the House specials can appear and disappear at any time.
You mean a trial or demo, right?
Nope. You’re getting a full version of the real game — for free!
How long will I own the game?
Once you’ve claimed your game, it’s yours to keep!
Why is Origin doing this?
We’re gamers, too. We appreciate you making Origin your gaming home … and besides, who doesn’t like free stuff?

One would assume it’s a way of getting more people to use Origin (as opposed to Steam, where Dead Space is currently priced at $14.99).

Dead Space was released back in late 2008 to mostly positive feedback, spawning 2 other sequels, both of which scored relatively high in comparison.

If you haven’t experienced the franchise and have got a half-decent PC that can run it, you can download the game from here.

OXCGN’s Dead Space 3 Review


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OXCGN’s Dead Space 3 Review

A ‘visceral’ stomp?

by Daniel Geikowski

©2013 Daniel Geikowski

dead space 3 3It seems that during the course of gaming, various trends come and go, much like everything nowadays.

Whether they are visual styles, aesthetics, themes, mechanics or gameplay styles, many publishers attempt to incorporate these current trends into their games and franchises, with mixed results.

The Darkness II altered its visual style from a realistic to cell-shaded effect, reminiscent of the game’s comic origins.

Splinter Cell: Conviction ditched its primary focus on stealth and silence, opting to turn to a more “Bourne-like” action theme.

dead space 3 screenshots oxcgn #1The Fallout series was originally a top-down RPG, however Bethesda mixed things up in Fallout 3 by utilising a first person perspective, used in titles such as Oblivion, and later Skyrim.

Some hit the jackpot, while others damage their franchises by incorporating something which feels seemingly out-of-place.

Dead Space 3 is no different.

Dead Space 3 review

Win Dead Space 3 Game and Shirt Packs!


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Win Dead Space 3 Game and Shirt Packs!

Win for the platform of your choice!

by David Hilton

© 2013 David Hilton

dead space 3 3Dead Space 3 had our previewer impressed with the clever combination of heart-pounding action mixed into the familiar cold sweat inducing survival horror sections.

He then was then blown away by the well implemented new co-op element.

The co-op experience is a separate one from playing the game on your own, with each character doing separate tasks, including one of you playing in a hallucination mode, while the other protects you.

You can read his assessment here.

We’ll have to wait for our final play-though for the review to finally decide, but in the meantime it’s time to once again reward the readers for supporting us so well!

Win Dead Space 3 HERE:

Dead Space 3 has a mid-game twist and “did not change the formula”


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Dead Space 3 has a mid-game twist and “did not change the formula”

Interview with Dead Space 3 Producer John Calhoun

by Arthur Kotsopoulos

©2013 Arthur Kotsopoulos

Some people said, no I just couldn’t take it, it’s unrelenting, it was gory, it was just too much.

dead space 3 oxcgn screenshot. 5jpgEA Australia recently held a hands-on with Dead Space 3 and allowed journalists to get stomping with roughly the first 2-3 hours of the game.

Whilst it was an extremely intense session in a chilly room decked out with a fake-white snow carpet I had the chance to speak with John Calhoun producer on Dead Space 3.

In the 13 minute interview I got a better understanding of a developers point of view regarding backlash from consumers regarding the game’s change of direction and a delved a little deeper in the thought process of including certain features in the 3rd installment of this popular franchise.

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OXCGN’s Dead Space 3 Demo Impressions


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OXCGN’s Dead Space 3 Demo Impressions

Freezing never felt so good

by Kent Sobey

©2013 Kent Sobey

dead space 3 3“Why won’t you just DIE?!”

This is probably a sentence that you’ll be thinking to yourself over and over again when you get a chance to play the Dead Space 3 demo. Or, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be screaming it at the TV in a mad panic just trying to stay alive yourself.

The demo gives you two options to whet your appetite before the 7th of February when the game is actually released.

You can go at it alone and give the single player a try, or play the same section of the game with a buddy – or in my case, some random stranger on Xbox Live.

Is this the Dead Space we’ve been waiting for?