The Evil Within is a game suffering from an identity crisis. It was billed as a horror game directed by Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame. But the term "horror" is nebulous. When it comes to games, there seem to be two distinct categories of horror: your brooding, atmospheric, despondent style of horror, and your tense, visceral bloodbath that tasks you with dismembering your enemies with limited resources. Both styles can work, but it seemed like The Evil Within wanted to do both. The results and the reviews were mixed.
Despite its shortcomings, I had an enjoyable time with The Evil Within. It’s like a less campy (but still pretty campy) version of Shadows of the Damned, which Mikami also worked on. The combat is gratifying and brutal, the Inception style narrative makes for some very cool transitions during gameplay, and despite its more action-focused approach, there are still moments of genuine fear that caught me off guard. But if you're reading this review, you probably also enjoyed The Evil Within to some extent or you wouldn't have even bothered with looking into the two DLCs that followed. So the question is, does The Consequence do The Evil Within justice?
The Consequence is a difficult game to grade. Much like The Evil Within, I'm not entirely sure what this DLC is trying to be. I think Mikami and his team tried to alleviate complaints about The Evil Within not being "true horror" by removing access to firearms for the first DLC (The Assignment). Even though I appreciated the approach The Assignment took, I actually missed the gunplay. There's still plenty of stealth in The Consequence, but having access to guns again (however brief these moments may be) is like welcoming an old friend back.
Despite its rather stilted runtime, (my endgame time was just over three and a half hours) The Consequence diversifies its gameplay enough to keep things fresh. You can go from hurling glowsticks in a pitch black room to unloading a 9mm on a small platoon of zombies/infected (or whatever the hell they’re going with now) in broad daylight. It's this kind of ADD nature that makes the actual art of playing the game fun and exciting. The disjointed, nightmare style narrative transfers over to the gameplay in interesting ways as well. The scene changes so quickly and abruptly sometimes that you're never quite sure what you're getting yourself into next.
Even though the actual combat sections are sparse, they feel natural. The guns have a satisfying punch, and actually watching your enemies’ heads explode instead of relying on stealth is little cathartic. But right when you are getting used to having the option to fight back, the game wrenches that option away from you and it's back to the stealth system. In fact, when you lose your first gun in The Consequence, Kidman is noticeably distraught, saying something along the lines of "Oh shit! No, no, no, no!" as her gun slips away. My feelings mimicked Kidman's as my pistol was stripped away from me and it was back to throwing bottles and creeping around. Mind you, the stealth is functional, but sometimes if feels like the game is tethering you along on an invisible leash.
The Consequence feels like a roller coaster at times. The story shifts and bounces all over the place, the combat dips and climbs, and even the music goes from ambient to bombastic in a matter of seconds. I don't mind just being along for the ride, but one aspect of The Evil Within that I enjoyed was the ability to choose how you approached enemies. You have a decent arsenal of weaponry at your disposal, but supplies are limited (depending on what difficulty you were playing on). You can either conserve your ammo and try to sneak around your enemies or risk an all-out confrontation and hope that you have enough supplies and good enough aim to make it through. The Consequence pigeonholes you into either a stealth section or a combat section. Thankfully, both stealth and gunplay feel adequate, but I wish the player was given more agency over which approach they wanted to take.
The story in The Consequence is just as manic and hopscotch as the gameplay. If you still had questions at the end of The Evil Within, I'm sure you'll have a few more at the end of The Consequence. To its credit though, Kidman's story puts a relatively tidy bow on the top of the key plot points in The Evil Within. Seeing how Kidman's story intersects with Sebastian's and Joseph's is also entertaining. Overall, the events within The Consequence wrap up the story in The Evil Within nicely, even if Kidman's own motives and her relationship with Mobius are still somewhat foggy to me. Regardless, it's an enjoyable ride even if you come away with a few more questions than you'd like.
The Consequence is entertaining. It's not an introspective, philosophical mindbender; it's campy fun. It has its flaws, but in a game where Claude Debussy's "Claire De Lune" is mixed with Inception, buckets of blood, and a Victorian loveseat/black cat combo that acts as your save point, I can't help but enjoy it.