The Evil Within is the underdog when it comes to action-horror franchises. The series stands in the long shadow of Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but its always cut a special places in my heart. The nightmarish visuals and disgusting monster designs are right up my alley. And while the developerrs, Tango Gameworks, aren’t currently haven’t announced an Evil Within 3, I believe it’s only a matter of time before we get a third game.
With that in mind, let’s talk about what I absolutely DO NOT want in Evil Within 3. Whether it’s repeating mistakes in the first two or chasing lousy horror game trends, these are the features and future design decisions I want Tango Gameworks to stay far, far away from. Not even Capcom, the gold standard, can get all their horror sequels right. Now strap yourself into the Animus and explore the depths of my twisted mind — here’s the top 10 things I don’t want in Evil Within 3.
#1: That Cinematic Aspect Ratio
For whatever reason, the original Evil Within could only be played in a 2:35:1 aspect ratio. No, this isn’t a native resolution — the game was just letterboxed. It’s one of the stranger decisions in a game that needed to prove itself right out the gate. It wasn’t until much later than a patch removed the forced letterboxing and restored a fullscreen aspect ratio.
What are the odds this is going to be in the sequel? I’d say the chances are nill. Even The Evil Within 2 included a special “Cinematic Mode” as a joke. We’re not likely to see more weird aspect ratios in this series future — but still, please, please don’t put another one in.
#2: More Insta-Kill Monsters
One of the most annoying aspects of The Evil Within is how many insta-kill monsters you’ll face in the nightmarish brainscape of a serial killer. There are underwater fish that kill you, stalking guys with safe heads, and a bloody woman named Laura. Oh, there’s also a chainsaw psycho, an invisible haunted with pustules growing out of its face, and Shade — a pair of lady legs on a spotlight. That isn’t even all the insta-kill monsters in the game! That’s just a fraction!
We don’t need even more insta-kill monsters! The Evil Within 2 wisely lowered the amount of monsters that just straight-up kill you when they get close. It’s okay to have one — Resident Evil games always have one or two of these guys — but when you’re dealing with bosses that kill your character in a single hit and take a long time to finish… we’re going to beg for mercy and ask for a few less instant deaths. Death is scary, but repeating the same sections over and over is a lot less scary.
#3: Even Shorter Stamina Bars
Here’s something Resident Evil games don’t have — a stamina bar. In RE4 and RE2 Remake, you’re free to run around as much as you like. The Evil Within cruelly forces you to maintain a ridiculously small stamina bar that actually got shorter in Evil Within 2! Seriously, if you though that stamina bar couldn’t get any shorter, think again! Now your guy gets winded after a ten second light jog.
Really, those stamina bars aren’t the worst thing in the world. Even though they’re much shorter, I think they serve a much greater purpose in The Evil Within 2. I’d prefer to get rid of the stamina bars completely and give us an alternate reason why we can’t simply outrun monsters — but if that isn’t going to happen, let’s just lengthen those stamina bars slightly.
#4: Cover Shooting Sequences
Resident Evil 4 was a tense action game with horrifying sequences — and its sequences devolved into straight-up action with cover shooting. Capcom just can’t help itself sometimes. We can even see this trend repeated in the Resident Evil 2 Remake and the Resident Evil 3 Remake — and I love both of those games, but Resident Evil 3 Remake is a much more action-oriented version of the previous survival horror game.
We want Evil Within 3 to be about horror. Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 both have cover-shooting sequences against gun-toting enemies. I’ve got a soft spot for both of those deeply ridiculous games, but I’d rather keep Evil Within in the horror department. We can still have a fun game without exchanging bullets with bad guys. And it isn’t entirely out-of-the-question… if you haven’t played The Evil Within 2, you’re in for quite a surprise at the end. Yes, there’s a shoot-em-up sequence. Once was enough, we don’t need it again!
#5: A Tacked-On Multiplayer Mode
I’m really picking on Capcom today, but The Evil Within is a game completely in the Resident Evil mold, so I think it’s a fair place of comparison. And the Resident Evil games just keep producing weird multiplayer modes that nobody really wants — but Capcom just keeps including them! Cooperative is fine, I’m talking about something else entirely.
Resident Evil 3 Remake included a weirdo thing called Resistance — where one team of survivals battled a mastermind to escape an Umbrella testing facility. And Resident Evil Village includes yet another multiplayer mode where heroes from the history of the series shoot each other. Why?! These are diversions at best! Don’t waste our time with pointless multiplayer content and just make Evil Within 3 the best game it can be.
#6: Extremely Linear Levels
One of the best changes in The Evil Within 2 is how nonlinear it is. Many of the levels are wide-open sandboxes where you’re free to find powerful upgrade items, new guns, or experience some of the spookiest scares. While there are still linear levels in The Evil Within 2, most of them allow you to sneak or fight your own way. That’s a very positive change.
Taking away the open-world environments and putting us back on the rails would be going backwards. If anything, future games in the series should really expand on the open-world idea and feature large levels packed with creepy stuff to explore in a nonlinear way. That’s the kind of creativity that will set this series apart from other Resident Evil clones.
#7: “Inspirited By P.T.”
No more hallways that loop infinitely, please. P.T. (Playable Teaser) was a weird demo for a once in-development Silent Hill sequel directed by Hideo Kojima — and the entire affair burned to the ground along with most of Konami’s game development staff. P.T. is a creepy revelation. The thing is the closest we’ve got to a real life creepypasta. It’s no wonder indie developers keep trying to create the next P.T.
And P.T. is great. I’d love to see more of the creepy, nightmarish and paranoid atmosphere of P.T. in The Evil Within — the twitching ghost, the crying fetus, the impossible geometry of the hallway. All those things are great! But I don’t want a direct P.T. homage in the game. I don’t want the game to go FPS and replace puzzles with weird community mystery boxes. Developers need to stop trying to chase the P.T. dragon.
#8: No More Coffee Timers
One of the smallest little pet peeves of playing The Evil Within 2 is related to coffee. In your safehouse, there’s a coffee maker that slowly refills. Coffee is your only source of healing that doesn’t waste resources. You don’t heal by saving, so if you get hurt near your safehouse and need another dose of free healing — be prepared to wait. The coffee maker doesn’t refill for a set amount of time. How long? I have no idea. I just want the coffee to brew faster! Heal me up and stop making me wait around!
Okay, I understand the coffee timer served a gameplay purpose. You’re supposed to go exploring the environment — and if you could just heal yourself as often as you wanted, the area near your safe house would be pretty dang safe. This might be the pettiest complaint on this list, but I don’t care — I don’t want to wait for coffee!
#9: A First Person Dimly Lit Running Simulator
Most indie games give you a flashlight, a limited battery life, and a stalker to chase you through dark corridors. The Amnesia games popularized the sneak-and-sprint style of horror that’s so prevalent, and those are some very good (and scary) games. But, they’re not what I want from P.T. The last thing I want is yet another Outlast game — it’s always more fun to face your fears than scrambling to find the exact right path through an environment you can’t even see.
#10: Another QTE Last Boss
The Evil Within 1 commits a grave sin to gaming. You don’t even fight the final boss. The impressive giant monster waiting at the end isn’t really a battle at all — you just need to perform a simple QTE and kill the thing. No challenge. No sense of accomplishment.
Sure, horror games aren’t really known for great final battles, but I’d like some tension! Just give us something! The Evil Within 2 greatly improved on its boss game, with an impressively gross final battle that left me happy. Here’s hoping The Evil Within 3 can deliver something even better.