The criticism that a game is too similar to something that came out before it can often fall flat. In games, like in any entertainment medium, it’s impossible to do something that is wholly, entirely original. Everything’s been done before, and so what audiences expect isn’t something that’s completely new, but something that builds on things that have been done before, implements existing ideas in new ways, and puts its own unique twist on them. Unfortunately, JanduSoft’s first person psychological horror game Evil Inside is one of those examples that can and should be criticized for lifting things straight out of better games. To put it bluntly, this is a poorly made replica of P.T. that borrows from Hideo Kojima’s seminal horror demo liberally, but fails to do anything nearly as well as it needed to.
The similarities between the two are so blatant and so numerous that Evil Inside can feel like not just something that’s hugely influenced by P.T., but something that’s straight up ripping it off. From its narrative premise to the imagery it uses to try and scare players, from its looping claustrophobic hallway setting to even the design of the hallway, Evil Inside suffers from a crippling lack of originality. Hell, even its name is basically just another way of saying “Resident Evil” or “The Evil Within“.
"The similarities between the two are so blatant and so numerous that Evil Inside can feel like not just something that’s hugely influenced by P.T., but something that’s straight up ripping it off."
Being a carbon copy of P.T. would have been acceptable if Evil Inside was good at its job – P.T. is an excellent horror experience, after all – but this is a poorly made game that fails at most of what it tries to do. You play as Mark, a man whose mother was supposedly murdered by his father and thrown into a well. He’s now trying to contact his dead mother through an Ouija board, which, in terms of the game’s structure, materializes as you walking through his house across a bunch of different loops, each ending with finding another piece of the Ouija board, and each beginning at the beginning of the same corridor.
The design o the house will be familiar to anyone who’s played P.T., from the L-shaped main hallway to the balcony on the upper floor that looks down on the house’s entrance. There are rooms and a basement connected to hallway, and at times you head to the upper floor as well, but the house is, by design, limited in size and scope. There are a couple of puzzles here and there, but they range from simplistic and completely forgettable to frustratingly opaque. Meanwhile, each loop of the house veers harder and harder into the supposedly scarier bits of the game as the story escalates and things are revealed to you, but unfortunately, Evil Inside even fails at scaring you all that affectively.
That’s because even though Evil Inside claims to be a psychological horror game, there isn’t much psychological horror going on here. It really just uses the cheapest and easiest ways it can found to get a mild yelp out of you (and that would be the best case scenario). Evil Inside regularly hits you with sudden loud screams, or flashing ghostly apparitions splashed right across the screen, all of which is accompanied by sudden eruptions of loud musical notes that are as subtle as a jackhammer. Their effect is fleeting, and once they’re done, rather than making you feel uncomfortable and on edge, the game just leaves you groaning and wondering what the next cheap jump scare will be and when it will arrive. It’s not actual horror.
The story isn’t anything to write home about either. There’s something to be said about how it reveals bits and pieces of new information to you across its multiple loops, and a storytelling style and structure like that is bound to build up curiosity in anyone- but what it does reveal to you isn’t all that interesting, or even slightly unpredictable. Just as it does in terms of design, Evil Inside’s story is lacking in originality, and just as it does in how it chooses to scares you, the story it does tell will likely fail to make any sort of an impact on you. The fact that the little dialogue that the game does have is poorly written and poorly voiced doesn’t do it any favours.
"Evil Inside regularly hits you with sudden loud screams, or flashing ghostly apparitions splashed right across the screen, all of which is accompanied by sudden eruptions of loud musical notes that are as subtle as a jackhammer. Their effect is fleeting, and once they’re done, rather than making you feel uncomfortable and on edge, the game just leaves you groaning and wondering what the next cheap jump scare will be and when it will arrive."
The one area where Evil Inside can be given some praise is its visuals. No, it doesn’t look stunning, and yes, it still has some issues, like a few flat textures and poorly made models, but at least it looks clean. The lighting is decent and used effectively in sequences where you’re stuck in the complete, suffocating darkness, so at least the game has that going for it, to some extent.
It’s really hard to recommend Evil Inside to… well, anyone, really. My recommendation would be to just go play P.T if that’s the kind of horror experience you’re looking for, because a) that’s actually horror, and b) it’s actually good. But P.T. isn’t as readily available to everyone as it should be- in which case, I’d tell you to go play a fan-made version of P.T. in Dreams or something. If that’s still something you can’t or don’t want to do- well, even in that case Evil Inside is a hard sell. This is a game that you can finish in one sitting, in less than an hour, and that combined with the fact that none of what it does is worth a lot of praise means that spending money on the game isn’t something that anyone should do, at least not until it hits a deep, deep discount.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Blatantly unoriginal; Uninteresting story; Poor writing and voice acting; Full of cheap jump scares; Too short.