The Evil Within – Modern Horror Fails To Scare
The Evil Within has described by a number of sites as ‘terrifying’. A game that shakes the player to the core with fear, a true horror title…yet from what I’ve played it’s not even slightly unnerving. If there’s one thing The Evil Within does well, it’s represent the state of modern horror. ‘LOOK AT THIS, IT’S VILE!!’ seems be the games theme. Gore, gore and more gore. Gore is not scary, sure it’s a little jarring at first, but it’s never scary. The Evil Within leans onto gore far too much, and the horror is lost in a shade of pink mist.
Disgusting imagery, blood covered visuals, this is not fear inducing. The best horror video games (and films) work for their scares. Tension, atmosphere, a sense of dread, all of this is crafted and earned. The Evil Within reeks of a game trying too hard to scare. While the scenery and Imagery does unnerve, the rushed attempts to scare cheapen the overall product. There’s a difference between fear and panic, the latter is mostly the emotion felt throughout the game.
Does this make the Evil Within a bad game? No, of course not. While the desired scares are not present, the game still provides a pretty loose horror feel. The problem is, The Evil Within has been marketed as a scary experience. The target audience has already seen everything The Evil Within has to offer, right down to the last drop of blood. Heck anyone who played Dead Space 1 & 2 has seen everything The Evil Within has to offer, repetitive events are not scary, just predicable.
The lack of consequences attached to the main character is also a major con. Not being truly attached to a sense of reality within the game results in death feeling rather trivial. The fact the protagonist rarely questions anything, or even reacts for the most part, result in the game feeling rather hollow.
The failure to scare may not be entirely down to the developers. Modern horror is far more of a spectacle, a much more rushed affair. Slow build ups are replaced with sharp musical score, people see everything, nothing is left to the imagination. While there is shock value, at least briefly, to modern horror, it’s hardly anything that truly scares. The best scares aren’t done visually, they’re done by going passed visuals and into the subconscious. A great example of modern scares is P.T. It may be brief, but it builds up tension, creates a atmosphere, suckers the player in and then starts to play with them.
The Evil Within is still enjoyable, it’s just a shame it’s not the horrific experience it could have been. A example of modern horror and all that is wrong with it, nothing but spectacle. Times may change back to where horror becomes more of a result of craftsmanship rather than gore. For now, all we can do is wait, wait and support titles like Alien: Isolation that earns it’s scares.