Baron's Blitz: ...My Apology on The Evil Within

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Baron's Blitz: ...My Apology on The Evil Within

Postby Baron von Gosu » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:47 pm

The term 'horror snob' is an often quoted phrase used to describe my take on the genre. Frequent listeners know this by now. I am hard on horror movies. I am hard on horror games. I am hard on horror books. Love and passion are not an acceptable excuses for shoddy story telling, lack of detail, and despite what the 'hardcore' horror fan base believes, gore is not an acceptable substitute for legitimate suspense and fear. I've railed against this sort of treatment by hollywood and indie film makers who expect us to fear character knock offs of Leatherface because of a few buckets of blood without ever really understanding what made the originals unique and terrifying. Because of all this I am labeled, and self labeled 'a horror snob.'

My only defense is I'm tired of the genre being disrespected. Movies, books, and games that follow these processes do little in my estimation to bring back the respectability of the genre. It was this same mind set that led to a rant on a recent episode of Ghost in the Podcast about a video game that released a couple months ago. At the time my rant was based on the early portions of the game, which a few listeners took exception to in the emails they sent after the show. They went on to say I needed to spend more time progressing further into the game before making a final judgment. They also said perhaps my usually hilarious rants may have gotten this one....wrong. It was this feedback that prompted me to boot up the game and go further into the story to see if my original snobbery was too quick to lambast something I should've taken more time to get to know. And you know what.....

....those sons of bitches were right.

So now I write this, my apology, to those of you out there who think the Baron clan (which would include my brother on EC) don't know when to admit they were wrong and apologize. Well here you go dear reader- savor the flavor.

I was wrong about The Evil Within.

And I apologize for it.

For over a decade I've played one crappy horror survival game after another. Eventually it felt like for every Last of Us we had to suffer through another Resident Evil coming to town with disappointment for all the girls and boys. When I first started The Evil Within I saw a lot of what I hated about those games in the early going. Ridiculous game play, cheesy voice acting, incomprehensible plot, and lots of frustration over the camera system. Now splice in the gratuitous gore with lack of story, and my defenses of snobbery start raging.

Only this time I stuck with it. I got past Chapter 1 and moved onto Chapter 2. I learned quickly the value of stealth and melee take downs, and screamed at the inability to carry more than 4 shotgun shells after finding a lucky additional pack of ammo hidden in a closet in one of the buildings. I learned it was best to dispatch the entire village of enemies before moving on to explore. And lastly the boss fight.....the dude with the chainsaw....I couldn't help but clap at his introduction.

Chapters 3 and 4. Now you're stuck in an enclosed room with zombies and mutants shooting out of the pipes. It's hold out or die with limited ammo. Survive to chapter 5 and now you enter a series of chase scenes with an unstoppable monster barreling down hallway after hallway after you. Just like Amnesia. And oh dear reader, you know how much I love Amnesia The Dark Descent.

The Evil Within is not a game that rests on the laurels of being 'the next game from the mastermind of Resident Evil 4.' He could've rode the name sake, made a passable game, and moved on to bigger endeavors, only he didn't. The environments, the combat, the careful placement of materials, the save system, the scares, and yes even the gore all serve a purpose that blends perfectly into the horror experience. From one moment to the next you've no clue whether you're taking on an army of zombies with 4 bullets left in the chamber, or staring up at a giant monstrosity with the hopes you leveled your endurance enough to make that final sprint down the hall. The game style changes as frequently as its locations and in this I say is a major success.

It has been a long time since I've played a game as grueling and demanding as this one. As my understanding of the mechanics improved, so did my attitude towards the steep difficulty, even on easy mode (which runs like normal mode in most other games) Defeating a boss or a level truly does feel like an accomplishment, especially as it frequently leaves you depleted of resources and a sliver of life away from death. As the write up in Game Informer said, this type of game you don't feel like you've won something, you feel like you've survived something. Which in the end isn't that the point of a survival horror game?

The acting is still horrendous. Like we're talking Hayden Christiansan/Anakin Skywalker horrendous. The story itself is threadbare at best though I understand where the creators were attempting to go with it. I think that some games, like some movies, are intended to be more of an experience than they are a narrative in the way we typically see them. Amnesia the Dark Descent, Outlast, Lars von Trier's Anti-Christ, and Melancholia are all games and movies where the focus is more on the world these characters inhabit rather than the narrative journey they are on. The risks for these types of films and games are risky, but if successful the rewards are plentiful. The Evil Within is a game of experience, nothing more, and for this snobby reviewer I'm pretty damn satisfied with that.

So dear reader......apology accepted?

-Baron
"Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light."
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