I love Shinji Mikami. I love Resident Evil, I love survival horror, I love third person shooters and I love clunky controls. So it mustn’t come as a surprise that The Evil Within is one of my favourite games of the PS4/XB1 generation. But I will admit that towards the end of the game I had no fucking idea what the story was about. The Evil Within’s DLC, The Assignment and The Consequence, help answer some of the many questions the main game creates.
In The Assignment, we learn that Mobius has hired Kidman to enter the Stem (machine designed by Ruvik to link multiple minds to one) and retrieve Leslie for their own use.
As the mission unfolds Kidman learns about the dangers of Leslie’s abilities and tries to stop Ruvik and Mobius from taking Leslie, much to the displeasure of her employers. The true meaning behind Kidman’s involvement and value to Mobius is uncovered as she continues to defy orders.
The Consequence contains two chapters and kicks off directly where The Assignment left off, following the story of Krimson City police detective Julie Kidman. It was good to see that the main protagonist (Kidman) wasn’t as lifeless as an ironing board, unlike Sebastian. Even though I didn’t have an emotional connection with Kidman, I found myself wanting to know more about her and how she got to be employed by Mobius.
After exiting the Mobius research facility Kidman will traverse the ruined Krimson City in order to reach the Beacon Mental Hospital, where she believes Leslie is located. Along the way you will run into and see Sebastian and Joseph and slowly the pieces of the story puzzle come together.
Instances that occurred in the main game you will see from Kidman’s view. When you get to Beacon Hospital you’ll be hot on the tracks of Leslie and occasionally you will be called on to free him from Ruvik’s control. This is done by burning paintings of that are usually being patrolled by several Haunted. You’ll also need to escape scripted encounters with your employer; if you’re too slow he will fuck you up.
As an older, somewhat more mature gamer I have found that it is very hard to be scared by games. Sure there is the occasional jump scare, but genuine fear from a game is very rare. Even though The Evil Within DLC doesn’t put fear into the hearts of the players, what it does do is create genuine tension, thanks to its foreboding atmosphere. For the most part of this DLC you won’t have a gun, when in this position the only way to defend yourself is by using an axe, and these can only be used when you sneak up behind an enemy and hit the button prompt. Predominantly, your only tool is a flashlight.
Like The Assignment, The Consequence focuses heavily on stealth and this helps build the tension. Quite often you’ll find yourself expecting something to happen, or someone to be waiting for you when there isn’t. Tango Gameworks does a great job at making a restrictive universe feel claustrophobic in an immersive way. A great example of this is early when you find yourself in total darkness due to a power outage. Your only way of navigating the dark is with glowsticks, you can have three lit at any one time. You must navigate Kidman through a maze of enemies in order to restore the power. While this isn’t overly difficult, the constant barrage of sounds emitting from nearby enemies is enough to just give you little bit of doubt, a little uncertainty as to what lies ahead in the darkness.
When Kidman finally does get a firearm after spending the entirety of The Assignment and the first half of The Consequence without one, it gives you a sense of power, especially when you obtain the shotgun. One of the best moments in the game is towards the end when you need to reach an elevator, as you push the call button the power goes out and all the Ward room doors open and Haunted pile into the hallway. It’s tense, it’s violent and it’s exhilarating. In that moment I felt like I was experiencing true survival horror. But just like in the main game you need to use your resources wisely to ensure survival. There is no upgrade system here, no way of increasing your stamina and vitality, or to increase the amount of ammo you can carry. Although your health does regenerate, it is crucial that you do mitigate the chances of taking damage, as it does not take much to kill Kidman.
To encourage exploration you can find audio clips scattered about the place, as well as letter scrapings inside locked chests that give you more insight into the back-story of Kidman and other characters’ involvement with Mobius and the Stem project. The codes to the chests, that happen to be the same as The Keeper’s head, are relatively well hidden, while some only give you a set number of attempts to solve a puzzle before it resets.
To me, this is what DLC should be: Additional missions that add another layer of depth to the experience of the main game. Not features or characters that should be in the main game to begin with. I’ll be honest, I bought the season pass. I have only bought three in my time, Ryse (fail) and Watch Dogs (also a fail) being the other two.
The Consequence is a solid mix of stealth and survival horror. It takes what worked in the main game and builds on those foundations to deliver a well-paced, nerve-racking experience. If you have yet to play the DLC, do yourself a favour and do so. You will find yourself making sense of little things that before were senseless and appreciating what little remains of the survival horror genre.
Reviewed on PS4.