The Evil Within Season Pass Review – Salvation Run

Another side, another story.

Posted By | On 29th, Jun. 2015 Under Article, Reviews | Follow This Author @will_borger


When Bethesda and Tango Gameworks announced that The Evil Within would be getting DLC, I didn’t really know what to expect. The main game leaves things open for a proper sequel, but doesn’t leave much room for the short stories that have come to define downloadable content. What, I wondered, could Tango possibly have up their sleeve? Maybe some challenge rooms pitting Sebastian against some of The Evil Within’s bosses? Perhaps a prequel campaign set before the events of the main game? Or maybe a side story focusing on another member of the game’s cast?

I really wasn’t sure, mostly because I didn’t think the game could really support, or really needed, DLC. Leave it to Tango Gameworks to prove me wrong. Don’t misunderstand me: The Evil Within’s DLC isn’t a necessity, but it you want a different perspective on The Evil Within’s world, it’s worth checking out. When I say different perspective, I mean it. Those looking for an action-oriented experience, like The Evil Within itself, are probably going to be pretty disappointed.

The Evil Within Kidman Blinded

"What‘s most interesting about Kidman is how differently she plays from Sebastian. Sebastian relied on strength, toughness, loads of green goop, and a small arsenal to get him through The Evil Within. Kidman doesn’t have that."

While The Evil Within was primarily a survival-horror title with a heavy focus on action, ala Resident Evil 4, The Evil Within’s DLC is largely based on stealth. This is the most apparent in The Assignment and The Consequence, the first two pieces of downloadable content for the game, which combine to tell the story of Detective Juli Kidman, and her mission to capture psychiatric patient Leslie Withers for Mobius, a shadowy organization with ties to the STEM Project.

The story requires a working knowledge of the original game’s plot and characters, but it’s less of a sequel and more of a side story that attempts to flesh out who Kidman is, and what she was doing during the events of the main game. In addition, it also elaborates on many of the game’s key plot elements and answers a few questions left unresolved by the core campiagn, while raising others and providing interesting window dressing for the inevitable sequel. Everything’s still pretty high concept, but it’s handled with much more grace than in the main game, in large part due to the fact that Kidman, and through her, the player, has more information about what’s going on and what the stakes are.

Kidman is voiced by Jennifer Carpenter, who does a pretty great job grounding both Kidman and her origin, told through various audio diaries and documents, and her character anchors both The Assignment and The Consequence. What‘s most interesting about Kidman is how differently she plays from Sebastian. Sebastian relied on strength, toughness, loads of green goop, and a small arsenal to get him through The Evil Within. Kidman doesn’t have that. Physically, she’s not as tough as Sebastian, she doesn’t have access to any green gel, and she spends much of the game unarmed.

The Evil Within Flashlight Discovery

"Tango’s incredible understanding of scene composition is on display once again, as the studio proves that they not only know how to build something scary, but also how to present it."

What she does have, however, is a very specific set of skills; skills that allow her to run and hide from enemies, pop into cover beside boxes, throw bottles to distract them, lure them over to her position with her voice, heal without items, and sprint for longer than two seconds without becoming winded. It’s a good thing, too, because you’ll need to use all of these skills if you want to keep Kidman alive. When I said she wasn’t a tough as Sebastian, I wasn’t kidding: two hits from pretty much any enemy in the game are enough to take her down.

This means that Kidman spends much of her time observing enemy patterns, setting enemies up for stealth kills, and hiding. That’s not to say that neither The Assignment nor The Consequence offer action sequences, because they do, especially the latter. That said, most of your time will be spent sneaking through incredibly creepy environments, trying not to die. Tango’s incredible understanding of scene composition is on display once again, as the studio proves that they not only know how to build something scary, but also how to present it.

They even managed to improve the horrible stealth mechanics that sullied the main game. This still ain’t Metal Gear or Splinter Cell or Hitman, but it works. It’s engaging and intense and makes you plan. The enemies may not be an intelligent as, say, the Alien in Alien Isolation, but they are on the lookout for you, and they will pursue you and kill you quickly if you aren’t careful. It’s a good reworking of a flawed system, and it makes the DLC compelling in a way that the original game’s stealth was not.

The Evil Within Bloody Feast

"The last piece of downloadable content for The Evil Within, The Executioner, is also its most unique. The Executioner places you in the role of The Keeper, The Evil Within’s crazy, wild, and wonderful box-for-a-head antagonist.."

The Assignment and The Consequence aren’t perfect: the former has so little action to break up its stealth that it can be monotonous, and the latter suffers from having to balance concluding a fairly complex narrative with actually being a game. There’s more action in The Consequence, and that certainly helps, but the game is also full of cinematics and segments of in-game cutscenes exacerbated by lots of cinematic walking. That’s not to say either of these packs are bad, but they do have issues.

The last piece of downloadable content for The Evil Within, The Executioner, is also its most unique. The Executioner places you in the role of The Keeper, The Evil Within’s crazy, wild, and wonderful box-for-a-head antagonist. You’re not actually The Keeper, though, just a man inhabiting his body as he searches for his daughter, who is trapped in the STEM system from the main game.

Playing as The Keeper is quite unlike anything else in The Evil Within or any of its other downloadable content. The game is played in first person, as The Keeper hunts down various bosses from the original game, under the instruction of Mobius, who give you your daughter’s status as well as your next target through memos that appear scattered around the game’s environments. The story is almost entirely conveyed through said memos and collectibles scattered around the environment, so it won’t get in your way. It’s good enough to be compelling, but smart enough to be unobtrusive, leaving you to focus on The Executioner’s main selling point: beating your foes to death with The Keeper’s enormous hammer.

The Evil Within Trapped

"Even so, however, the hammer you start with is probably your best all-around bet, and any upgrades and purchases you make will do little to change The Executioner’s general rhythm, which boils down to hit enemy, dodge counterattack, hit enemy."

The game’s first-person viewpoint means that The Evil Within’s annoying black bars have been dropped, and the new focus on strategically placed melee attacks works well and feels good. This is good, since it’s essentially all you’ll be doing in The Executioner. It’s almost like a boss rush mode. You’ll go into an area, knock off a few minor enemies, fight the boss, and then head off to the next area.

Each fight requires you to change your plan of attack to succeed, and bosses do drop new weapons for the player to use, but none of that changes the fact that this is all extremely repetitive. Tango tries to make things interesting by adding weapons and upgrades that you can unlock with money you can acquire from killing enemies or find in the environment. You can upgrade your movement speed, health, or even reduce the amount of damage you take. Likewise, you can upgrade and buy new weapons ranging from a rocket launcher to a chainsaw.

Even so, however, the hammer you start with is probably your best all-around bet, and any upgrades and purchases you make will do little to change The Executioner’s general rhythm, which boils down to hit enemy, dodge counterattack, hit enemy. Rinse and repeat until you are prompted to execute said enemy via button prompt and said enemy dies.

The Evil Within Light Woman Fight

"Ultimately, how you feel about The Evil Within’s DLC will be determined by how you feel about The Evil Within as a whole. If you don’t have interest in the game outside of its core action design, then you’re not going to get much out of the game’s DLC."

What that leaves you with is a solid, occasionally spectacular (the final boss is both difficult and satisfying) piece of DLC that is probably a little too brief for its own good, and fairly forgettable once the credits roll. It’s still got the same great, alternate-take-on-The-Evil-Within-taste as The Assignment and The Consequence. It’s just a little less filling.

Ultimately, how you feel about The Evil Within’s DLC will be determined by how you feel about The Evil Within as a whole. If you don’t have interest in the game outside of its core action design, then you’re not going to get much out of the game’s DLC. If however, you’re willing to jump back down the rabbit hole, then there’s a lot to like here.

The Assignment and The Consequence are easily the strongest of the three, and are too interconnected to judge alone. The Executioner is weaker, certainly, but still worth a spin, if only for its novelty. For a game that didn’t seem like a good fit for DLC, it’s pretty impressive that The Evil Within has delivered three that are both worthwhile and almost completely unlike the core game. All you have to do to enjoy them is open your mind, and dive back into The Evil Within. What could possible go wrong?

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.

THE GOOD

Reworked stealth is more satisfying in both The Assignment and The Consequence. Kidman is an interesting character, and Jennifer Carpenter’s performance is compelling. Lots of genuinely exciting sequences that expand on the plot and answer unresolved questions. The Executioner is an interesting take on The Evil Within formula. Tango Gameworks still knows how to present horror. Boss fights are unique and engaging across all three pieces of DLC.

THE BAD

The Assignment lacks the variety to pace its stealth properly. The Consequence occasionally forgets that it to balance concluding a complex story with being a game. The Executioner is short, and lacks variety.

Final Verdict

Ultimately, how you feel about The Evil Within’s DLC will be determined by how you feel about The Evil Within as a whole. If you don’t have interest in the game outside of its core action design, then you’re not going to get much out of the game’s DLC. If however, you’re willing to jump back down the rabbit hole, then there’s a lot to like here.

A copy of this game was provided by developer/publisher for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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