Once you are able to ground yourself, the game's vocabulary becomes a bit easier to digest. In a way, it teaches you how to play it without actually spelling everything out. The Evil Within is a long haul. It demands your undivided attention. If you disrespect it, it'll eat you alive.
There are a variety of game types present in The Evil Within. You'll solve puzzles, utilize stealth and master guns and other weapons. Ammo is a scarce commodity that you'll need to manage accordingly, not to mention the close attention you'll need to pay to the amount of matches you carry. There's only one way to make sure these beasts don't come back -- and that's by burning them.
As much as it nails the atmosphere, at times The Evil Within can feel a little rough around the edges. There are a few occasional graphical glitches and sometimes animations don't line up the way they should. The game's chapters feature plenty of calamitous locations, but they all tend to feature the same foreboding items on the horror checklist: rust, things on fire, torn cloth swaying in the wind and so on. Deliberate or not, some of these environments tend to become confusing after some time, too.
I tested my nerve in round 2 of my time with The Evil Within on a high-end SLI gaming laptop from Origin PC, the Origin EON17-SLX. The game definitely performed better for me on the behemoth laptop, plus I was able to successfully remove those black bars from the game that so many people seem to take issue with. Overall, the frame rate in the PC version seems smoother, though you'll need an impressive rig to run it well.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of The Evil Within is how well it draws out agonizing fear. There are moments when I just had to stop playing simply because I couldn't withstand the mental anguish it demanded. At times the intensity ramps up so significantly that your limping character just won't move fast enough for your liking. It can be enough to make you dizzy with anxiety.
The worst part? The fear that you might have to repeat 45 minutes' worth of careful sneaking again because you didn't reach a checkpoint. You'll yearn for the distorted looping of Clair de Lune that plays when a portal is close by. These mirrors transport you to a limbo area where you can upgrade your character and save the game.
The Evil Within is a hodgepodge of modern horror, with equal parts "Saw," "Hostel," "American Horror Story" and "The Strain" mixed into one. But at the same time it takes so many unsettling liberties that it forms its own beast, which will take a disciplined veteran to tolerate and conquer.
CNET verdict: An acquired taste sure to satiate the horror fanatic
The Evil Within is not for everyone, but for those with an appetite for an investment-heavy exploit through the mind of a madman, The Evil Within is more than capable.
Check out GameSpot for more on The Evil Within