By this time next week, you’ll be hearing of horror stories that extend beyond the terrifying tale the The Evil Within tells. Sure to present a challenge to even seasoned veterans of the survival horror genre, we expect some great water cooler stories about the game’s challenges.
Looking for some tips for survival? Watch our newest video, The World Within, and guest editor Fran Reyes returns one more time to help you before evil takes hold of your gaming console/pc. This time around, she covers off on knowing your surroundings, the all-important choice of fighting our fleeing to survive another day, and how to tackle (and take advantage) of the game’s menacing traps.
If you missed them, be sure to read Fran’s first two features — Every Last Bullet & Fight for Life. You’ll thank us later.
Preparing for the unexpected in The Evil Within
There’s a moment near the very start of The Evil Within when Krimson City homicide detective Sebastian Castellanos realizes that something bigger is afoot than the gruesome mass murder case he’s working on. The foundation of the mental asylum he’s investigating starts to violently shake, and upon reaching the hospital’s entrance to escape, you discover that the surrounding landscape has irrevocably changed — the ground outside has given way, creating giant chasms now swallowing surrounding skyscrapers whole.
Is it really happening? Or is this part of some twisted nightmare? You’ll spend the rest of your journey trying to answer those questions, while diving deeper into the game’s central mystery and constantly fighting for your survival amid a dangerous, ever-changing landscape. Whenever you think you know where you are or where you’re heading, the world shifts, putting you in unexpected peril in, say, an open arena-type area, or pitting you against brutal new adversaries. Or both. In fact, the game seems to relish in keeping you guessing.
Attacked from afar
A great example of how The Evil Within keeps you on your toes occurs about midway through the campaign; after dashing through dim-lit hallways and cramped rooms while dodging a particularly devilish boss creature at the end of a stage, you eventually find yourself in a sun-lit, multi-level set of ruins. Makeshift bridges and stone staircases lead to locked doors and outcroppings from which hostile Haunteds — the name for many of the enemies that wander the game world — attack.
Zeroing in on distant enemies with the sniper rifle takes time and patience — two things you might not always have when you’re under siege — but every hit is incredibly powerful.
As you make your way through open-air rooms and rooftops, combat ebbs and flows until you reach a particularly tough impasse: in the distance, a new threat emerges in the form of enemy snipers. If they spot you out in the open, you’ll be inundated with a cloud of lethal bolts. Luckily, this is also where you’ll come across a sniper rifle of your own. But juggling the timing of when these ranged enemies are both vulnerable to a clear shot from your new firearm, with having to take cover to avoid getting impaled by a flood of their arrows isn’t an easy feat. Mixing stealth, cover, and action is something that The Evil Within enforces at every turn; you won’t survive for very long if you don’t mix up your approach to combat, and this is one of many instances where patience and being methodical is rewarded over all-out run-’n-gun tactics.
In fact, haste rarely ever pays off in a game that harbors so many surprises and twists. Wasting too much ammo or inventory in one fight can leave you unprepared and incredibly vulnerable for what might just be waiting around the corner. And as a word of warning for the uninitiated: In this specific instance with the snipers, making sure that every rifle shot hits its mark means you won’t have wasted shotgun shells or bolts for the threats ahead. You’ll need them.
Fight or flight: Know which to choose
It’s good to note, though, that not all fights can be won: no one will call you a coward for simply running to avoid conflict. In some areas, hiding under a bed or inside a locker can help you catch your breath and assess what you’re up against. If you’re low on ammo or health syringes, ducking into a nearby wardrobe can help you shake some enemies off your trail, which is something you can gauge with the help of the game’s “detection” meter. (Note: This meter is automatically enabled in Casual difficulty, but must be manually turned on in Survival difficulty.)
Going into any situation with guns blazing is a bad idea, so always scope out an area by sticking to the shadows to see what you’re up against.
If a creature is in your vicinity, an “eye” icon appears on the screen showing that there’s a Haunted sniffing around nearby. If it hasn’t detected you, the it’s fight or flight, so ducking into a hidey-hole or getting a good amount of distance from the hostile and into cover, will often help you slip back into “undetected” mode. Keeping your cool is tough — panic is understandable, especially when you have only a handful of bullets left in your inventory — but keeping a level head gives you the chance to re-approach an “unaware” enemy for a stealth kill, which are win-win as you won’t consume any ammo.
In some cases, Sebastian must run from a threat in order to survive. Being chased by a quick-footed maniac through shadowy, twisting corridors or in tight spaces is a recipe for raised blood pressure, but some of The Evil Within’s boss creatures can’t be defeated through conventional methods — or at all. So, in these situations, it’s time to put that sprint button to the test. How far and fast you can sprint is determined by your stamina, an ability that can be upgraded in the game’s hub area with all that Green Gel you’ll be collecting throughout your journey.
Don’t panic: a cooler head allows you to navigate this trap-laden nightmare maze and avoid getting gibbed by a previously unseen wall-mine.
A word of caution though: blindly fleeing from a seemingly invulnerable monster without remaining aware of your surroundings isn’t always a wise strategy. Some chase-style fights are more straightforward than others, but not all are the same. In one area, Sebastian may do just fine madly sprinting away from a pursuing hostile while dodging some obstacles. In others — like when you’re fighting against the frightening, mallet-wielding Keeper boss — you’ll have to not only dodge his attacks, but also remain wary of the traps he lays in his wake. Unwittingly step on one of his mines and not only do you take damage, but you’ll have to manually wrestle with the trap’s barbwire clamps to get them off your leg (via wiggling an analog stick) while the Keeper is bearing down on you — not exactly an ideal situation to find yourself in. Quickly disarming or simply destroying these mine-traps may require sharp eyes and a steady aim, but it’s worth it. Your nerves will thank you as well.
The tricky world of traps
While combat is constant throughout most of the campaign, challenges come in all forms. Not all threats present themselves in the form of fights with waves of Haunted; some obstacles are sneakier, more insidious. While the face-off against the mine-laying Keeper keeps you on your toes by introducing traps into a fight, there are battles that pressure you to quickly navigate areas of these lethal obstacles under a time limit of sorts.
The Keeper respawns and lays down floor traps every time you encounter him. Outsmart him by steering clear of his mines.
In one particularly tricky area, you’re pursued by a shapeless foe who can seemingly appear at will, easily passing through wire fences and gates in a labyrinth that you’re not able to get through without first finding a clear passage. With jangled nerves at an all-time high, you’re also under threat of being instantly killed by the exploding wall-traps, dead ends, and other death-dealing obstacles that line your escape route. The pressure to constantly outmaneuver your pursuer means you might not have the time to sneak past or hurriedly disarm an obscured mine or explosive, so you’ll have to juggle which threat needs addressing over the other…on the fly. It’s a white-knuckle encounter that manages to differentiate itself from many of the fights you’ve faced up to that point, but it’s no less daunting.
Yet, traps aren’t always your enemy. For as much of a threat they pose in some scenarios, they can also be used to your advantage in others. Of course, disarming them yields all-important parts that can be used to craft bolts for your Agony Crossbow. Nabbing parts for crafting during a fight — which means, you’ll have to remain fleet-footed to do so while dodging attacks — can ensure you’ll always have some arrows at your disposal when you run out of bullets. But in some of the more stealthy stages, simply luring a bloodthirsty Haunted to run across a bear trap can be ridiculously satisfying. Or better yet, getting a group of ghastly thugs to run at you through a hallway opening lined with an acid trap means taking out a handful of hostiles in one fell swoop without sacrificing a single bullet.
Loud noises like an explosion or gunfire will draw Haunted to your location. Disarming traps is both silent and nets you some parts for crafting bolts for your Agony Bow.
Always look to your environment and inventory to find all the ways to approach combat. What may seem impossible at first may just mean you have to be more clever in how you manage and use the resources provided.
Granted, no single stage in all of The Evil Within’s lengthy, challenging 15 chapters ever goes easy on you. But if you do survive, reward comes in the form of New Game+, which brings all sorts of new weapons and perks with it, including the chance to test your skills in two increasingly tougher difficulty settings: Nightmare and “Akumu,” which also translates to “nightmare” in English, and carries with it the notoriety at Bethesda and Tango as being near impossible to finish. Which brave soul will earn the bragging rights in snagging that achievement?
With its wildly shifting realities constantly wreaking havoc on your rattled nerves, paired with the persistent creeping dread of what terror may lay in wait just past the next darkened threshold, perhaps it’s best to always expect — and be prepared for — the unexpected.