The Evil Within: The Executioner on PlayStation 4
The Evil Within was a sort of breath of fresh air when it released last October. It convinced many that survival horror was still a genre that could be done well. Its focus on setting, and messing with the minds and perceptions of players helped to put the game in the spotlight. Unfortunately, when its story DLCs began to release, many fans were left wanting.
The Assignment managed to deliver a much more fleshed out narrative than the base game, but its departure from the solid gameplay of The Evil Within was more of a detriment than a boon. The Consequence never seemed to get back on the right track, although it did manage to successfully close off Juli Kidman’s story. Tango Gameworks had hit a serious rough patch when it came to expanding on what made The Evil Within so great, and with one more story DLC promised, they yet again switched things up in an attempt to deliver something as refreshing as that game that released in October of last year. The question is, was it all for naught?
The Executioner is yet another expansion that refuses to place players back into the survival horror experience of The Evil Within‘s original release. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The developers are no longer forcing players into a stealth-focused experience where you must run and hide. This time, the perspective has been switched to first-person as you must fill the shoes of The Keeper. Who is The Keeper, you ask? Well, he’s that huge, lumbering behemoth with the safe on his head that was absolutely terrifying in the main game.
Playing as what was one of the more troublesome enemies in The Evil Within feels exactly as you’d expect. You are slow, but immensely powerful. The Executioner DLC will throw hordes of enemies at you, all to be crushed with ease as you swing your hammer, stomp on heads, and toss the little buggers like they were little more than dolls. It’s so different from what it is probably expected from this world that was so painstakingly created, that it is honestly a bit shocking at first. Not having to hide from the horrors lurking around the corner as you charge into battle comes with ease, but placing you in control of an unstoppable force can only get you so far.
After about an hour into the roughly 4 hour long expansion, the new combat grows to be a bit dull. There are only so many times you can watch a head explode before you just grow numb to the experience. There are boss fights thrown in to the mix, as well as different enemy types, but none of them seem to shake up the gameplay in ways that were probably intended. The gameplay has you swinging your weapon to find something in the room to weaken the boss, and then start swinging your weapon again.
The Executioner does have an upgrade system that provides players options for their overly violent approach. And while the act of shoving your huge hand into a safe full of blood and guts is a cool way of increasing your power, nothing on offer is really all that special. Yeah, there are new melee weapons you can purchase after defeating certain bosses, and some explosive goodies thrown in for good measure as well, but all that does is throw some slightly new paint on that monotonous action.
But, The Executioner isn’t only about the action. In a weird way, the developers have managed to deliver one of the strongest narratives available in the entire The Evil Within experience. The story here places you into the mind of a man trying to save his daughter who is trapped within STEM. In order to get to her you must defeat every other mind occupying the system, and reach her before she is transformed forever into one of the monstrosities players have come to know and fear. Through letters, files, and scattered memories, players are introduced to this young girl. Her plight becomes something real as she tells you about the other people trapped in STEM along with her, and how she must hide as she waits for you to rescue her from this hell. The use of a completely silent protagonist this time around also lends itself to the experience.