- This review has been made spoiler free to the best of my abilities.
If you’ve played and finished The Evil Within, then there’s a high chance that you were scratching your head at its ending. I won’t go into spoiler territory, so no need to worry, but to say that things get confusing towards the end of the game is an understatement. Many of the questions being asked, was the involvement and motives of fellow police officer to the main protagonist Sebastian Castellanos; Juli Kidman. The Evil Within will have three expansions to add to the games main storyline and two out of the three expansions will be centred on Juli Kidman and her shenanigans when off-screen. So here enters The Assignment (part 1) and The Consequence (part 2).
The first element that took me by complete surprise with The Assignment and The Consequence was the pacing and style of the gameplay. With The Evil Within, the gameplay is along similar lines to that of Resident Evil 4, third-person over the shoulder viewpoint, gunning down evil folk, trying not to waste scarce ammo and being aware of your hazardous surroundings, basically put, pretty much everything that you would want from a survival horror/action game. Whereas the first two pieces of DLC packs takes a slightly different approach, by focusing on stealth mechanics. Don’t get me wrong, the main game did have its moments of stealth, but I’d say a good 80%-90% of the gameplay here is stealth orientated. And to add the stealthy tension, for the vast majority of the game, you will have no firearm to help fend off the evil folk.
This might be enough to put off some, especially for those that want more of the same gameplay inspired from the main game. I’m ok with stealth games to a degree, but if that’s what I really want, I’d go and buy a game with a stealthy approach in mind. Heck, even The Last of Us had a lot of stealth gameplay, but the feeling that I get from these two expansion packs is that it’s trying to be something that it’s not, by trying to be perhaps a little to separate itself from The Evil Within somewhat. This style always comes down to personal preference of course and I would have welcomed a decent sized chunk to be stealth (say at the most 50%).
Given the choice, for a game such as The Evil Within inspired expansions, I would want the majority to be more of the same; after all, it’s one of the reasons why I loved the main game so much. Though in saying that, there’s nothing wrong with Tango Gameworks or Bethesda taking a risk, this after all is just my personal preference.
That’s not to say that I do not like the stealth mechanics present in the two expansions, because I feel it can make for a welcomed change, I just feel that there’s a little too much of it and eventually I found it to become a little tedious by the time I’d approached the half-way point of The Consequence. One thing that I would say that does work in this gameplay approaches favour is that it does provide the game with more tension, especially for the most part that sees you with no firearm. Instead, you must use your wits and environmental distractions to get past an enemy.
I suppose in fairness, if The Assignment and The Consequence was to take the exact same gameplay approach as The Evil Within, those who have already played through its campaign, would likely breeze through this DLC. So in that respect, at least this gameplay change does help to keep you on your toes.
Other than shouting or throwing objects to distract an enemy, you will also be relying on a lot of cover. This mechanic was not really a focus in The Evil Within; instead you would remain behind cover by holding the crouch button. In this DLC, you now have a designated cover button. In theory this should work well and for the most part it helps to keep you safe. However, the problem lies when you leave cover. As when you do leave cover, you will gain a little speed boost.
This poses a problem at times because when playing, you want to move safely and with precision, trying to avoid any attention from the enemy as much as you can. So when you do leave cover, at times this can just because you problems, as from time to time, you will find yourself running into enemies or worse, into deadly traps.
This lack of control can cause a great deal of frustration, especially if your stealth manoeuvres have been successful prior to that untimely speed boost. I can see some logic as to why Tango Gameworks added this feature, because in theory it means you can make a quick run for it (if there’s a clear path ahead), but in my experience, its more hassle then it’s worth and would have been better being left out of the game altogether. So as a result, for the most part I found myself holding down the crouch button in the same way that I had in The Evil Within, rather than using the newly assigned cover button.
One of the highlights of the expansion is a terrifying new enemy which I believe is known simply as the Light Woman. Her lanky stiletto wearing legs, with her armless body and Big Daddy like head, will give you shivers down your spine as she stalks you with the sound of her heels clanking the floor. But as much as I loved being scared by her presence, the cover/speed boost mechanic took some of that immersion away; during the sections where you had to hide from her by remaining out of her spotlight, as you wait for a door to unlock (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you play some of these sections). A tip that you might find useful, is that she cannot see you when her light is off, she can only see you when her light is gleaming.
What is introduced well along with the Light Woman is the use of light source. The lighting effects in The Evil Within were great and this has been expanded upon with these two expansions. Seeing as Juli has no gun (other than some scripted scenes and late on in the second expansion), her main weapon is her flashlight. Juli’s flashlight will be used to reveal doors, solve puzzles and uncover some hidden items. It’s a terrific way to not only make the lighting in this game look fantastic, but they’ve also managed to manipulate it into a meaningful gameplay mechanic.
In terms of replay value, The Assignment and The Consequence perhaps has a little more value than most pieces of DLC. Usually in my experience this kind of content is to add to the main games story, but once it’s done, it’s done, with little reason to return. Obviously you can playthrough both expansions and be done with it, but there is plenty of replayability to be had. For example, there are many Keeper safes to find and unlock, as well as Gold plated vinyl’s (which allows you to listen to the found soundtracks via the main menu system) and even some odd slug like objects that reveals more secrets to the game.
Also once each piece of DLC is complete, you will unlock the Kurayami Mode, which won’t change the level of difficulty in terms of enemy A.I or damage taken, but once selected, it does mean that you will play the game in pitch black darkness, having your flashlight as your only key light source. Believe me when I say, if you thought it was scary playing this content with normal lighting, then you’re in-store for a whole new level of fear. It’s also worth mentioning that other then the Kurayami difficulty (when unlocked); you have no choice of difficulty setting when playing either piece of content. By default, the difficulty setting is set as Survival. This shouldn’t matter too much, as you will be trying to keep yourself out of harm’s way, rather than getting into constant battles as you would with the main game.
If you loved The Evil Within, you might not necessarily love The Assignment and The Consequence, due to its heavy stealth orientated gameplay mechanics. This of course all comes down to individual preference, just be prepared for stealth and very little gunplay action. However, what the stealth mechanic does is arguably make the game even more tenuous and terrifying then before, especially during the Light Woman encounters (though she is undermined by her demise). The two pieces of DLC also adds some much needed back-story to Juli Kidman’s motives and whereabouts and it does reveal that there’s perhaps more to her then you initially thought, though there are still some parts that will have you scratching your head in bemusement (but that’s part of The Evil Within’s appeal in my opinion).
All in all, both pieces of combined DLC should take you around six hours to finish, then if you pick up the season pass, you still have The Keeper (aka Boxhead) expansion to look forward to (we’ll be reviewing that when released). So assuming that the final piece of DLC is three hours long, that’s 9 extra hours of meaningful Evil Within content for £15 (each piece of DLC is £6.99 individually), which isn’t all that bad by anyone’s standards.
I really liked The Evil Within (as reflected in my review), so picking up this content was an easy choice to make. But if you’re not a fan of heavily orientated stealth gameplay, you may want to avoid The Assignment and The Consequence, or at least wait until The Evil Within’s season pass is on offer. While the heavy stealth direction may not have been my choice, at least the developers have tried something a little different and for that I believe they should be commended, not to mention that Juli’s tale is a more then worthy addition to The Evil Within’s lore. Either way, you’re still gonna need a fresh pair of pants to playthrough both pieces of content.
You can read our review of the main game; The Evil Within here.
+Some will appreciate the new gameplay direction
+Stealth gameplay helps to up the tension
+Answers some questions
+The Light Woman is genuinely terrifying
-Some might not appreciate heavy stealth direction
-Pacing can grow tiresome
-Unreliable cover system