[REVIEW] Evil Inside – Can I copy your homework, Kojima?

P.T. has got to be one of the most influential games that never actually made it. After P.T.’s short-lived lifespan, many have tried to emulate its vibe. Some attempts have been pretty successful, some have not. The Taiwanese people at Red Candle – to name one example – did a pretty nice job with Devotion. You might wanna take a look at the review of that one. The Catalonian developer JanduSoft also decides to give it a go with Evil Inside, a psychological horror game that ticked a lot of boxes after its announcement a month ago. After playing it, I can’t say that it doesn’t have a lot of P.T. elements. Only because 90 percent of the game is a blatant copy of Kojima’s work. The other 10 percent comes from other influences like The Ring.

The premise is an old one in the genre of psychological horror. Like many other games, Evil Inside tells the story of a man whose family has been torn apart by tragedy. You play as Mark, an uninteresting guy looking to contact his dead mom through an Ouija board. Mom croaked because of dad, who threw her down a well afterward and is now serving time. Happy days. By contacting his mum (or is it mom?), Mark hopes to figure out what truly happened back in the day. The thing is, Ouija boards never seem to help people out much. Instead, it’s usually a world of terror that the user enters after consulting the spiritual plank. With Mark, it’s no different.

Mark experiences his terror within the confinements of his house. Like P.T., Evil Inside is a walking simulator that puts the player in a perpetual cycle. That means you’re pretty much sauntering through the same two corridors, a basement, and a second floor. Every loop demands you to find a hint or an item to progress. These hints usually lie within the aforementioned areas, but rooms like a bedroom (including the mandatory crib with a whimpering baby), a bathroom, and a kitchen. At the end of each loop, Mark finds a piece of a broken Ouija board in the basement. After so many loops, the board is put together and Mark can get the answer to the question that has been haunting him. Pretty straightforward stuff.

The problem with Evil Inside is that it doesn’t do anything original. I’ll even go as far as claiming that Evil Inside leans towards downright plagiarism. The layout – apart from the basement – is practically a one-on-one copy from P.T.’s house. The swinging lamp in the hallway, the balcony of the second floor where an entity is bound to pop up at some point, the lot. Even the environmental effects seem ripped off. That baby I was talking about might not be a wailing fetus in the sink this time, but it’s there. The groaning woman that haunts you every step of the way? You can catch a glimpse of her in the trailer above. Even the “Don’t look back” thing – where you obviously have to look back – is incorporated in Evil Inside. Come to think of it, even the name sounds oddly familiar. I guess Evil Within was already taken.

Screenshot of the bedroom, including a baby's crib

Unfortunately, Evil Inside also doesn’t really impress on a technical scale. Playing it on a PlayStation 5, I expected it to play smooth as butter, but it didn’t. Stutter haunted me more than the plethora of jump scares. The localization team should get a firm kick in the ass too, or maybe just the one responsible for the Dutch translation. The voiceovers are mainly done by people who never made it through acting class. And the writing staff… they couldn’t really decide if Mark should refer to his mother as “mum” or “mom”. If you feel like changing brightness or contrast settings because you can’t see shit all of the sudden, you’re done goofed too. Evil Inside doesn’t let you change them in-game, so you have to exit to the main menu to fix that. Strange decisions have been made there.

Then again, Evil Inside does do some things right. For the most part, the game looks pretty good. Actually, I should say that the environment looks good, because a lot of objects in it, don’t. The baby in the crib isn’t convincing anyone, for example. But those discrepancies are mostly forgiven by the amount of detail elsewhere. Even the mirror in the bathroom reflects everything behind you in perfect detail. Except for you. You seem to be invisible. All of this wouldn’t bother me that much if Evil Inside really sucked me in, but it just doesn’t. I’ve seen it all before in P.T., and I mean that quite literally. The only thing that caught me off-guard was the jump scares, but those also became predictable after a while.

Screenshot of the well

But the worst part of it all is the duration of this game and the price tag that comes with it. Evil Inside sells retail for just under €13, and for that price, you get 30 minutes of gameplay. Thirty whole minutes, you guys. Okay, you might stretch it up to an hour if you can’t seem to find an item because it’s pitch-black and you can’t change your brightness anymore. But yeah, an hour is really stretching it. To me, that’s a very hard sell. If Evil Inside really did something special, then maybe it could justify the price point. But it doesn’t. It’s mostly a blatant copy of P.T., which was free back in the day and took 30 minutes if you rushed it. I’m sorry if I keep comparing Evil Inside with P.T., but JanduSoft is really asking for it.

The bottom line is this. If you really wanna play P.T. but you can’t – because you have a PS5 – then Evil Inside might do the trick for you. Also, if you’re into jump scares, this game can provide you with a few. But other than that, there’s no real reason to spend your money on Evil Inside. For me, the only thing horrifying was the lack of a refund option in the PlayStation Store because I already started playing the game.

Horrifying for the wrong reasons
The Yays
It reminds me of P.T.
The Nays
Reminds me a little too much of P.T. (copy/paste much?)
30 minutes for 13 euros/dollars is unacceptable for a game like this
The detail is in the environment, but not much else
Jump scares do the trick at first, but come predictable
Stutter, frame drops and lack of options in-game are uncool