As I shared in my latest feature, The Evil Within is what I consider to be the most underrated survival horror game I’ve ever played. It’s a game that I went in not expecting much, and came out a die-hard fan. It earned my admiration in the best way possible.
That said, The Evil Within‘s ending wasn’t particularly satisfying. It left a lot unanswered, leading to numerous discussions around the internet. What is Mobius? What are Juli Kidman’s motives? Why does everyone want Leslie so much? And why does my brain hurt?
Now, its first DLC package titled The Assignment is here. It stars Juli Kidman, and tackles some of the most mysterious elements of The Evil Within‘s lore head-on.
Me and My Trusty Flashlight
The Assignment is formatted differently than the main campaign of The Evil Within. Instead of being fast-paced with gunfire and chases, it focuses on stealth gameplay. As a matter of fact, there is only one action sequence throughout the length of its two chapters, and it lasts less than a minute. But instead of relying on the original experience’s incomplete stealth mechanics, it introduces new ways to interact with the game.
The stealth mechanics are, for the most part, great. When sneaking around you’re able to snap to cover and even call for enemies as if you were Solid Snake. Being tactical about positioning is an absolute must to get through the experience as you’ll spend most of the time without any form of weapon. Observing the environment to remember escape routes and treading lightly is the key to success.
This weapon-less style of play is what gives The Assignment its horror flavor that deviates from the original campaign. You’ll need to sneak around dark halls without anything more than a flashlight, which is a tall order for anyone who can’t handle scary situations well. Once again, id Tech 5 demonstrates that it’s capable of remarkable imagery.
Juli and you will share one thing in common: trepidation.
As well put-together as the stealth gameplay is, enemies simply aren’t observative enough to make The Assignment a truly immersive experience. They’ll miss seeing you in cases where you’re clearly in their sight, and disregard things like the light emanating from your flashlight or the noise that radiates from knocked over objects as you crawl around. Their reactions also tend to be binary; either they don’t see you at all or are committed to coming after you.
That said, the boss encounters are a highlight of The Assignment. There are three major scenarios, two of which are particularly well formulated. The first of these stars a new antagonist in the universe that is wonderfully designed, both in terms of art and sound direction. We’re talking top-tier Silent Hill stuff here.
The Meat of the Experience
Due to the nature of The Assignment, there isn’t much in the way of replay value, a far cry from the original game. There are no skills to upgrade, and there are no collectibles except for pieces of a note gated by puzzles.
On the plus side, the experience lasts for around four hours. Once finished, New Game Plus unlocks in addition to a new difficulty mode that turns the environment pitch black. If you’re brave it’s worth giving a try.
The Assignment is very linear, but well composed.
So, when it comes to deciding whether or not The Assignment is satisfying, it really all comes down to your interest in The Evil Within‘s story. By the end of the four hours of DLC you’ll have a clearer understanding of what the motives are for several key players, as well a better idea of what STEM is.
Speaking of which, Juli Kidman makes for a great protagonist in The Assignment. Her performance is great, she’s fun to play as, and is a lot different than Sebastian Castellanos. You may just find her to be the more preferable of the two.
For fans of The Evil Within, The Assignment stands out as a key component to understanding its complex story. For everyone, it offers an entirely new way to enjoy the universe.
It isn’t completely fulfilling, but does show how much potential The Evil Within has. Equally as important, it provides a new experience worthy of its fair asking price.
Jonathan Leack is the Gaming Editor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @jleack.
PC copy provided by publisher. The Evil Within: The Assignment is available for PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, and PS3. A copy of The Evil Within is required to play.