The original The Evil Within’s setting of the mind of a psychopath; a whole world contained within a mind that others could access through a device, made for some excellent horror, and allowed elements such as pacing, logical world building, and even characterisation to take a back seat. With the sequel, more care has been taken to establish motivation and character personalities, playing more on emotion within the same madness of a mind-made world of horror.
The mind hosting the frights this time around is that of the protagonist’s, Sebastian Castellanos, daughter, who was abducted by the sinister MOBIUS, those behind the Beacon Hospital event from the original. This organisation have, once again, created a world that others can inhabit, something has gone wrong and now they rely on you to figure out what and save their operatives as well as your daughter.
Indeed, The Evil Within 2’s stronger focus on character gives it a Silent Hill 2 feel initially, this is further explored by a shift from linear environments to several open ones. However, while the psychology of Sebastian is mostly well played on in dialogue, boss encounters and general enemies fail to represent the trauma and fear of the protagonist in any meaningful way. In fact they’re a little disappointing in general, lacking the same originality and over-the-top gruesomeness as in the first title. Considering the visual are leagues ahead in detail and lighting, as well as featuring a far more varied colour palette, this is surprising and a bit of a let-down.
Fortunately, there’s still plenty of frightening encounters and environments to get your blood pumping. Despite spending a fair amount of time in the three open areas, there’s still plenty of corridors and more linear areas that allow for some creepy and tense exploration, playing on audio and the ‘close the shoulder’ camera to really play on the fear of the unknown. The open areas, meanwhile, are a little more action orientated but still do a good job getting the scares in with enough corners hiding terrors and copious amounts of items and side missions to encourage you to explore every nook and cranny. Moreover, the new ability to craft items means less collecting specific ammo types and more collecting material to craft what you want. This brilliantly allows you to create ammo for your preferred weapon rather than forcing you to use them all.
Additionally, the crafting mechanic creates a clever risk verses reward situation where crafting items in the field costs significantly more than returning to a safe house and crafting there. It forces you to frequently decide between trekking through enemy infested areas to get somewhere safe or taking the hit to materials and crafting where you are allowing you to continue. This is especially effective in the first few hours where a couple of hits is enough to put you down and your ammo count is pathetically small.
Even when ammo is more abundant, you’re never fully prepared for the enemy encounters. Stealth is the best way to proceed, avoiding combat as much as possible, and when it does kick-off, the open areas allow you to retreat, which is often a smart choice. Additionally, a more nuanced tree of abilities, both passive and active, can be unlocked with green goo as with the original title, and these help you shape Sebastian into the character you want for the play style you’ve chosen. Still, it’s a difficult game where a lapse in focus can easily result in your demise.
The Evil Within 2 is a great horror game that improves upon the original in movement, characterisation and inventory management brilliantly, but drops the ball a little when it comes to enemy originality and scares. This is partially due to the open areas offering a different experience but more so it’s a simple lack of creativity on the developer’s side. Still, it’s an attractive looking title with an intriguing setting and enough frightening encounters to put you on edge, less original but more refined.
Sometimes being a game reviewer isn’t all it seems. Yes, reviewing a game you are looking forward to playing is great (eg.Tacoma), and unearthing a real gem that you had no intention of playing is even better (eg.The Sexy Brutale). But then there are games like Resident Evil Revelations.
The Resident Evil series is well loved and respected, and the most recent game (Resident Evil 7) updated the genre for the current generation consoles and was arguably one of the best in the series. But I was confused, as I knew that Revelations 2 had already been released on Xbox One, so why was I being tasked to review its prequel? A quick Google search later and I found that Resident Evil Revelations is a remastering of a last generation remake of a game originally released on the 3DS in 2012. We are in the era of well-loved games being remade and re-released, which sometimes don’t happen in quite the right order! So, research completed, and my question is: How will this remastering stand up in 2017?
Resident Evil Revelations (now referred to as RER) is developed by Capcom and takes place between the events of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. The story of the game follows series protagonists Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield as they try to stop a bioterrorist organisation from infecting the Earth’s oceans with a virus. The game mainly involves the player controlling Jill Valentine aboard a ghost ship in the Mediterranean Sea, but there are flashbacks and scenarios where you play as other supporting characters.
RER was originally designed to put emphasis on survival, evasion, and exploration ahead of fast-paced combat by providing the player with limited ammunition, health, and movement speed. It was designed to bring back the content and horror of the series’ roots, while at the same time trying to modernize the gameplay, in which lies my first and most critical complaint of the game. It’s great to put emphasis on evasion, but it doesn’t work when the control of the character is so sluggish. When you factor in the limited ammunition, which you will run out of on most boss encounters, it makes these encounters a hard slog, even when you’re playing on the easiest difficulty level. RER is a third person game which switchs into first person when aiming your weapon, this makes any encounter with more than one enemy extremely frustrating. One section, set as a flashback in a skyscraper, has you defending a foyer as you wait for a lift, against lizards (Hunters) who jump and attack in one movement from multiple directions. This is impossible to defend against or evade when the movement of your character, including weapon aiming, is just so slow! Especially when there are up to five enemies in that small space.
RER has two different gameplay modes: Campaign and Raid. Campaign is your standard singleplayer story, whilst Raid is where one or two players can fight their way through a selection of altered scenarios from Campaign mode. These will reward you with experience and battle points that can be exchanged for various weapons and items at a store. Gaining experience and acquiring new equipment allows progress to higher and more challenging scenarios.
There are twelve chapters in the campaign of RER, and I have to admit by chapter four I had played enough. Even though I was enjoying the story I was hating the controls and how sluggish they were. But it wasn’t all bad. There was a moment early on in RER with a human character who is slowly being overcome by the virus, so she still possessed human characteristics as she taunted and stalked your character. This section did unnerve me with its excellent sound design and feelings of claustrophobia.
But wait, as I mentioned in my opening, being a reviewer isn’t all it seems. I was so close to giving up on RER, but I don’t believe it’s fair to write a review based on such a small amount of game time, so I persevered and I started to enjoy this game. I got used to the clunky controls. I realised that each enemy had a weak point and I began to defeat them quicker. I realised that the Genesis device you are equipped with could be used to find extra hidden ammo as well as scanning enemies. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not a great game, but it does have a good story and it mixes up the gameplay over the course of the twelve chapters to avoid making it a slog.
Graphically, the cutscenes really show the remastering process and are very pretty, and with most games of this ilk a lot of care and attention has been given to the female form, both in the cutscenes and in gameplay. If only the basic enemies had been given the same attention. Some of the base level enemies are just boring, and you don’t face them in combat with any feeling of dread, just annoyance. In fact, I would go as far as to say I am quite easily unnerved by horror games, and apart from the early encounter I previously mentioned, RER didn’t scare me at all.
Occasionally, you will have to defeat an end of level boss, some of which are fun to go up against, particularly where it takes you into different scenarios, such as on a mounted minigun in a helicopter. Others are dull and frustrating, and frequently lead to your character running out of ammo and resorting to melee attacks on huge monsters. RER also has missions which requires swimming and diving and these are also great ways to break up the standard gameplay, and these are designed well enough to make you feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable.
Story-wise, RER is extremely entertaining, even for someone like me who isn’t familiar with the events leading up to this game. Obviously I was familiar with the likes of Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, but was obliviously unaware of the range of supporting characters and the agencies of which they belong to, such as the FBC and BSAA. It moves along at a good pace and swaps between characters and locations to prevent things from becoming dull and boring.
Overall, Resident Evil Revelations is an OK game. Fans of the series will probably love it, but the clunky, sluggish controls let it down. This is most demonstrated in the final boss fight, where, although the enemy attacks are telegraphed, the strike area is just too large and it’s impossible to get out of the way in time, which is hugely frustrating. Introducing a roll mechanic for these encounters would increase enjoyment (and my score)!
Prey successfully melds science fiction and horror in a more contemporary and grounded setting that the original title from 2006. It therefore doesn’t feel at all related to its predecessor, posing question as to why it needed to use the name ‘Prey’. However, while its roots are muddy, the title that’s grown from them is wonderfully intense and intriguing, providing an experience that’s a bit familiar in places yet superbly polished.
The likeness to titles such as System Shock and Bioshock is hard to deny, with ‘mystery’ being its primary draw. You play as either a female of male Morgan Yu, waking up in your apartment and given the objective of heading to work. However, the reality of Yu’s situation is quickly challenged as something goes wrong behind the scenes, revealing Yu’s place of work to in fact be a space station in orbit around Earth, and Yu’s memory erased as an emergency protocol. Worse still, the station is infested by an alien organism known as Typhon, capable of shifting their appearance to look like everyday objects as well as sucking the life out of all living things. It’s a threat that must not be allowed to reach Earth, and despite your fractured memories, it’s up to you to figure out precisely what’s going on within the station and destroy the Typhon.
Your main objectives lead you through a well-paced and interesting story of discovery but the station is littered with side quests to further the lore. You’re free to switch between these objectives at will, with the space station open for you to explore, assuming you have the card keys, weapons and abilities to surpass the obstacles. It’s a metrovania style of free-roaming exploration that helps the environment feel more realistic and works to help satisfy your intrigue if the greater lore should grip you. Moreover, there are often multiple ways for you to conquer the obstacles in your way, whether that’s exploring and finding key cards to open otherwise locked doors, or using the neat collection of weapons to make a route – such as the Glu gun that creates clumps of solid matter to temporarily freeze enemies in place or create makeshift stairs to clamber on – or even using your abilities to hack and repair security nodes. It’s wonderfully open.
However, as much as exploration is encouraged by objectives, and required to progress, there’s an terrifically eerie personality to the station that does a tremendous job of putting you off. It’s a rare occasion of an environment looking lived in and mostly brightly lit, but the powerful sense of loneliness and the threat the Typhoon poses makes entering every room intense and frightening.
The spider-like Typhon, Mimics, can shifting into everyday objectives, fooling you into a false sense of security where a room looks harmless when in fact you’re surrounded. As you approach objects that are in fact Mimics, they shift back to their alien form and spring towards you. It makes you paranoid and puts you on edge, and with some superb scripted events in the early stages of the game, you’re quickly introduced to just how devious this enemy can be.
However, Yu does have a few tricks up his/her sleeve. The experiments you were a part of have granted you abilities which can be upgraded and expanded on through a skill tree. Additionally, new technical skills, health and stamina stats, and multiple other upgrades can be purchased and augmented with collectables. Eventually you can become a force to be reckoned with, although the further you commit to certain abilities the more you threaten your own humanity as the story progresses. It’s an interesting exploration of consequences that makes your play through a little more personal.
The use of limited stamina and inventory space adds a pleasant slice of survival horror to proceedings, enhanced considerably by the fast shifting and attacking of the Typhon as well as the wonderful use of music to intensify encounters. Running out of stamina and being unable to deal damage to the alien menace while being attacked does tread a thin line between frustrating and enhancing the horror. Meanwhile, the humanoid Typhon and human enemies require different tactics to overcome. It results in a clever set of combat encounters that force you to use a variety of different weapons and strategies to deal with the differing types and differing numbers you encounter.
A crafting feature allows you to create ammo, health and other items from machines strewn around the station. These machines use scrap and items you find, breaks them down into compound parts which can then be used to create whatever you please, assuming you have the blueprints. It means ammo and health are scarce, and improvising is encouraged. Environmental hazards can be used in combat to help even the odds, switching to different weapons is often necessary, and food items can be picked up and consumed to regain a little health and stamina. Mostly, this encourages you to avoid combat and run, enhancing the horror aspect to good effect.
Indeed, Prey does a great job delivering a smart FPS, survival horror hybrid with an intriguing setting and story. There’s some unfortunate technical limitations that can lead to some occasional frame rate issues and some long loading times between areas, but the journey of discovery and combat against the Typhon aliens aboard the space station is a highly satisfying, intense and rewarding experience. It’s a reboot that strays considerable from the original vision but successfully builds something new from the ashes of the Prey IP.
An intriguing beginning, superb ending, but highly repetitive and simplistic middle makes The Final Station a swing and a near miss as a survival horror gem. There’s some great ideas here, with its pixel art and colour palette proving some wonderful atmosphere, but its flaws outweigh a lot of the good in end.
You are a lone train conductor transporting equipment for the military, as well as survivors you find along the way, after an apocalyptic event begins. This is the second occurrence of this event, all told, with it originally occurring over a century ago. They call is the Visitation, suggesting some kind of alien menace; it results in possessed, zombie like humans lurking in buildings and on streets that mean to do the uninfected harm.
The experience is split between two sets of mechanics. On the train it’s your job to keep the bucket of bolts running, maintaining both the train itself and the equipment you’re carrying as well as keeping your passengers healthy and fed, otherwise they’ll die during the journey. When you arrive at each stop you must venture out into the world in order to find provisions to re-stock your health packs and food for the passengers, scavenge for materials to craft more bullets for your weapons, find any survivors and send them to the train, and primarily find a security code to allow you to carry on to the next station.
As you’re exploring these stops you’ll find NPCs with titbits of information to share about the world, as well as notes that paint a larger picture of the Visitation as well as shine a light on some of your personal concerns. But these stops are also full of the infected, coloured entirely in black, apart from their eyes, making them look like extras from Limbo. These foes come in a variety of predictable classes: the ordinary shambling sort, the faster scuttling sort, stronger and finally armoured. You can try to avoid them, shoot them with a small collection of weapons – although ammo is scarce – or punch them, either with your fists of the butt of your gun.
However, what seems like a threat to begin with is soon revealed to be a mere nuisance. The lack of information The Final Station gives you at the beginning builds a false sense of difficulty that lessens significant with a few trial and error mishaps. The enemies can largely be dealt with through melee attacks, with a couple merely needing finishing off with carefully aimed bullets to the head. Meanwhile, the locations are so linear it makes exploration routine; you’re unlikely to miss anything.
The med packs you collect can be used to heal yourself as well as your passengers, potentially providing an interesting shared resource to manage. However, once you’ve sussed out the combat you’ll find you won’t need very many at all for yourself. Food is purely for the passengers but it’s rare enough to put your patrons at risk of starvation, so managing it to keep everyone barely alive is a bit tricky and the most likely cause of any passenger deaths.
It’s an unfortunate discovery that the challenge is predicated entirely on the lack of a tutorial, however, the setting and story are still intriguing mysteries to be explored. Underground tunnels and structures have been built that give The Final Station a War of the Worlds feel. Meanwhile, the reveal of how the equipment you’re transporting will be used is exciting and cool. However, repetition does hurt the pacing a great deal. Stations begin to mostly look the same and you’ll find yourself willing each train journey to be the end of the current act in the story. It becomes dull and predictable; any fear the infected stirred originally is completely lost in the mid-game and exploring each station becomes a chore.
Then things spring to life in the final act. Mysteries thicken, twists and turns trigger your fascination, questions are answered and the ending itself is brilliant. It makes the whole journey worth it.
The Final Station is an interesting survival horror that starts strong with an intriguing, mysterious and frightening force to overcome, and some clever survival mechanics during the train journeys. The middle threatens to ruin the whole adventure, stripping the fear from the enemies, revealing exploration to be linear and overstaying its welcome to make it feel repetitious. But that ending is a return to form, capitalising on the narrative superbly. It’s worth the ticket price, but only barely.
Thanks to Xbox, tinyBuild and Iron Galaxy for supporting TiX
Capcom have released a new trailer and set of screenshots at Gamescom for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.
The trailer takes us a little deeper into the horror we’ll all be immersed in when it releases early next year. We’re are introduced to Marguerite Baker alongside another mysterious female character.
Set within a sinister plantation house in Dulvey, Louisiana, former residents, the Baker family – including Jack and Marguerite – have seemingly disappeared, and there’s clearly something not quite right within the plantation.
You’ll experience the terror directly from a first person perspective, for the first time in a numbered Resident Evil title. It intends to bring the iconic gameplay elements of exploration and tense atmosphere that the original did some twenty years ago, enhanced through disturbingly realistic visuals.
Returning to the series roots, signature gameplay features including exploration, puzzles and a realistic tense atmosphere awaits players. The classic inventory system returns but with limited space, meaning players must choose what they carry with them carefully, making sure to pack plenty of green herbs.
Resident Evil 5 will hit Xbox One on June 28th, making it the fourth Resident Evil title to be enhanced and re-released on the console, the first being the remake of the original, the second being the prequel Resident Evil Zero, and the most recent being Resident Evil 6, which we thoroughly enjoyed despite its flaws.
Featuring all previously released DLC, Resident Evil 5 on Xbox One will be packing a huge 71 achievements to collect, more than enough to keep you occupied until Resident Evil 4 sees it’s enhanced re-release on the Xbox One later this year. And with rumours flying all over the place about what’s coming next for the survival horror series, with a possible Resident Evil 7 on the cards for E3, as well as more information about the remake of Resident Evil 2, there’s no better time to reacquaint yourself with the ridiculous yet entertaining story.
Despite being panned by critics when it was originally released, Resident Evil 6 has been given the re-release treatment and has been enhanced for the Xbox One, featuring all previous DLC, a higher resolution and framerate, as well as a few additional tweaks. But can a game that was so strongly disliked claw back some goodwill from series fans with its slight upgrade?
It can, and indeed it should, Resident Evil 6 was unfairly panned back in 2012, and now, with its few enhancements and being so feature rich, it offers an even more attractive game for a reasonable price to those previous put off.
Resident Evil 6 is built around three different styles with its multiple campaigns. Leon’s campaign is more traditional, with a slower pace, eerier locations, and dealing with good old fashioned zombies and mutated creatures. Chris’ is action-based and deals with the parasites of Resident Evil 4 and 5. And Jake’s is more akin to Resident Evil 3 Nemesis, with frequent chases, a slower pace, and seemingly insurmountable odds. These three campaigns offer something for every player archetype from the Resident Evil spectrum, and with each campaign taking a good 5-7 hours to complete, you get a lot of content for your money. This does mean, however, that the tone is a bit schizophrenic. With each campaign contributing to an overall story, the different paces and experiences don’t meld as seamlessly as it would with an otherwise consistent setup.
Helping to better bridge the three main campaigns is the bonus Ada Wong adventure, which is significantly shorter than the other campaigns and largely visits crossover sections between them, but it ties everything together and fills in the majority of the plot holes. This campaign was a solo affair originally but now joins the ranks of the other campaigns with a coop option, where player 2 jumps in the boots of Agent, a generic soldier. Unfortunately it’s not the best implemented second player experience. In many ways it feels like Tails from Sonic 2, where the second player is largely irrelevant to the experience. You can’t interact with puzzles or the environment beyond the enemies, which is a disappointing and a dissatisfying experience.
The coop for the main campaigns remains the same as it did back in 2012, reducing the difficulty slightly despite some mild scaling. It’s also a great deal more entertaining playing alongside someone else. The convoluted and cheesy story is particularly difficult to swallow, but bringing another friend along helps a great deal. And indeed the story is the weakest part of Resident Evil 6, falling on clichés and suffering from poor writing. However, the ambition behind it is undeniable impressive.
The aforementioned multiple campaigns and dozens of hours of story is of impressive scale. The poor storytelling and attempt to try and please everyone threatens to undo the good but the grand plan behind it has a vestige of good intensions. The corny narrative will still appeal to die-hard Resident Evil fans, and seeing the large cast come together, many of which returning from previous titles, helps answer a few questions about what happened between those titles. And despite how well or badly you get on with the story, there’s still a great deal of fun to be had. The combat is satisfying and intense, the melee option allows you to punch and kick your way out of a pinch effectively as well as perform some excellent special attacks, and the highly detailed locations are interesting to explore with great variation. In fact, if you can stomach the inconsistent experience of the multiple campaigns the variety it offers proves a welcome change.
Unfortunately there are some fundamental problems that have crept in to this enhanced version. The quick time events still come out of nowhere, although they seem slightly more forgiving with the input timing as well as the checkpoint placement if you fail. The physics and collision detection is also fairly inconsistent and poor, making picking up items occasionally difficulty, or melee attacks completely miss their target. There are also a handful of badly designed sections in each campaign, whether it’s a chase sequence that is too punishing, or where the two characters are separated and overwhelmed with enemies, or where the environment collapses at too quick of a pace. These issues are still highly frustrating and typically crop up when checkpoints have been less generous.
Outside of the campaigns is a plethora of online, solo and coop modes, many of which were added to the based game as DLC back in 2012. These offer you the classic Mercenary modes, where you take on waves of enemies against the clock, as well as several other modes, such as playing as the Nemesis-type creature from Jake’s campaign, Ustanak, and taking on groups of players. Furthermore, the online crossover and enemy encounter feature returns, allowing you to team up with other players in the main campaign during sections that crossover, and allowing players to invade other people’s games as a monster. It’s certainly a neat way to interact with the campaign, however, it can affect the stability of your online coop session.
Resident Evil 6 is a blast when played cooperatively, and if you’re a fan of the on-going story and the characters involved it can prove just as much fun played solo. There are certainly issues with it, technical ones such as the collision detections and level design, and narrative problems, but if you avoided it originally because you just weren’t sure it was worth the asking price, for £15.99 you can now own the definitive edition.
This week Sega have pushed out the Alien Isolation Collection, and what a perfect time of year to do so, the collection comes to you as a digital only version which contains the game and seven packs of DLC that were released periodically since its original release.
Relive the horror you went through the first time and then some as you try to survive for longer than before with all of the additional content.