Note: This a review of the the first DLC for The Evil Within. For a review of the core game, check out Kuma’s write up here.
This review contains SPOILERS of events from the core game.
Whether you think The Evil Within was a good horror game or not, I think we can all agree that the story left a lot of questions unanswered. Even the ending was practically a big cliffhanger that suggested that the game might develop into a bigger franchise. With a storyline as confusing and fragmented as the one in The Evil Within, it was no surprise that Bethesda announced plans for two story related DLCs that would hopefully answer some of the questions that fans of the game were left with after finishing their playthroughs.
A Quest For Answers
The Assignment is the first of two DLCs that focus on the story of Juli Kidman, one of the three detectives investigating the mass murder at Beacon Mental Hospital. While she only showed up for a few short scenes in the core game, it was revealed that she was working for an unknown organization and that her objectives seemed at odds with those of Sebastian. The DLC attempts to both answer questions about her motives, as well as fleshing out the story of the events leading up to the beginning of the core game. For the most part, the DLC is parallel to the main story, meaning you will discover everything that Juli was up to while you were playing as Sebastian. In addition to this, you will get information on her employers and their connection to the Ruvik case. Most of the story is told through cut-scenes and dialogue, but as in the main game you can find a lot of additional information by collecting files and audio clips. Some of the information is related to Juli’s personal life and upbringing which gives a great new insight to her character and the reasons behind her motivations. However, some questions are still left unanswered after playing through The Assignment. I have no doubt that this is done intentionally to save some of the big reveals for Part 2.
Metal Gear Evil
The most exciting thing about this DLC is the massive change in gameplay. Playing as Juli is a very different experience than playing as Sebastian. If you were a fan of the pace and style of the core game and are hoping for more of that gameplay, chances are that you will be disappointed by The Assignment. In stark contrast to Sebastian, who is armed with a range of weapons, Juli is essentially helpless in that she has no tools to defend herself with against the monsters hunting her. Where Sebastian had to fight off swarms of enemies with very limited access to ammunition, Juli has to carefully avoid any confrontation if she is to survive. The developers have made an effort to make Juli her own character with her own playstyle, and the result is a completely different gameplay experience that shows some interesting possibilities for the future of the franchise.
The Assignment has a heavy emphasis on stealth and careful exploration. Many areas have limited lighting and you have to rely on your flashlight to guide you as you carefully make your way forward. You will encounter fewer enemies, but being discovered by a single one can result in a game over screen. As a result, the pacing is a lot slower than in the core game. It also has different type of survival horror feel. Personally, I was a bit disappointed in The Evil Within as I was hoping that it would be focused on the ‘horror’ part of survival horror. The Assignment is a step in the right direction for me. The core game had a lot of tense moments where you were desperately fighting off enemies with limited supplies. The Assignment, on the other hand, grips you with those moments where you desperately try to hide only to see the enemy walking right towards you. I felt a lot more vulnerable as I carefully sneaked from one room to the next. I felt worried of what I would encounter in the next area. There was also a strong feeling of dread as I knew that one wrong step could result in death. While the DLC doesn’t score high in the ‘scary’ factor, it does have a new level of tenseness that I was missing from the core game.
In addition to the new gameplay, The Assignment also features new areas and new enemies that compliment the different playstyle. Enemies are alerted to your presence in a Metal Gear Solidesque way. Areas of their body will glow yellow if they are alerted to you or if you make a sound to attract them. If they find you, they glow red and alert other nearby monsters. It might sound like a rudimentary way of showing the status of the enemy, but I find that it works surprisingly well. The humanoid enemies has always had a creepy white glow in the core game. The red glow makes them look even more enraged and dangerous, and I found myself swearing loudly at the screen the second they flared up after noticing me. The new enemies also have the same detail to their design as the ones in the core game. Not a single enemy or area feels like a ‘filler’ that is simply there to fill a money grabbing DLC. Everything feels like it has been carefully planned and has received the same level of attention as the elements in The Evil Within.
The Assignment is solid addition to The Evil Within. It introduces a new character with a brand new playstyle. The focus of the DLC is to tell the story of Juli Kidman and her involvement in the events of the core game. Despite that the emphasis is on filling gaps in the story, the gameplay is still the strongest point. The DLC introduces a brand new playstyle focused on stealth. Juli is essentially helpless and can’t defend herself against the monsters that are hunting her. This playstyle introduces a different kind of stress and fear to the game that I missed when playing through The Evil Within. Brand new enemies and areas have been introduced to compliment the playstyle. Enemies that was in the core game has also had some designs changed to fit the gameplay better. All in all, The Assignment feels like a DLC that has received a lot of thought and care as it was developed. It does not feel like a shallow experience that has been put together for a quick cash in. I had a great time during my time with the DLC and I am really looking forward to continuing the story in the next episode.
The second half of this DLC, The Consequence, will be released in April.