Friday, October 31, 2014

Game vs un-game. Fight!

I am having a difficult time pinning down how I feel about The Evil Within. It has no characters of interest, no story and no feeling of world or place for the player to latch on to. It jumps from scene to scene like a YouTube supercut of the grossest moments in gaming. At five hours in I have no idea what is going on as the game has been nothing more than series of chases scenes featuring unkillable bosses and fighting sections with too little ammo. I shouldn't like this game.

Yet I played for around two and half hours straight last night. I was stationary on the couch long enough for my feet to fall asleep. I was not frightened or disturbed but I wanted to know what was going to happen next. How is the game going to top the long legged spider woman thing emerging from a pool of blood and chasing you down the hall? Who knows, but it is certainly going to try.

The Evil Within is interesting in spite of its lake of world building. There are little snippets here and there of what the story might be but nothing cohesive, at least nothing that I have seen yet. Areas are completely disconnected, to the point that the main character isn't even seen walking between them. He passes out in one and wakes up in the next and somehow isn't freaking out about the whole thing.

Here is a fair comparison: in spite of my (perhaps unwarranted) dislike for the end of Alien: Isolation, I did enjoy it as a whole. It is almost the opposite of The Evil Within in that is spends a great deal of time building tension and characters. It is less 'game-y' and more 'interactive experience-y'. The Evil Within is all 'game-y,' pun possibly intended, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It will increase the gross out factor until it ends but will not invade my peripheral vision as I turn off the lights in the basement and ascend the stairs.

P.T. did that. It still does that. When I turn off The Evil Within the game is done and I am checking the achievement list for my progress.

There is one specific mechanical complaint that I need to get off of my chest: I hate the letterboxed aspect ration. It is pointless. When combined with how close the camera usually is to the player's back a full third of the screen is obscured. Item pick up prompts are routinely just off screen, causing me to either miss precious ammo pickups or spend extra time looking up and down in every area. My guess is that it is supposed to instill a claustrophobic feel the game, which it does, but the damage it does to my ability to actually see what the fuck I am doing is not an acceptable trade off.

1 comment:

  1. The letterboxing is problematic - particularly early in the game before I adjusted to it - but the game-y sense of it just kept becoming more comfortable until it stopped bothering me. Can I play it the way I need to? Yes. I'm good.

    Can I sneak in tall grass the way I need to? No. Fuck this letterboxing. Thank goodness, the grass doesn't make a reappearance - or hasn't, as far as I've played.