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The Evil Within: The Executioner Review
The latest addition to The Evil Within completely flips the gameplay style from the old over-the-shoulder perspective to a new first person view that will leave horror fanatics wanting more. This is because the new perspective is oddly familiar, yet strikingly different and it will grab you from the moment you begin to take your first steps into this grotesquely unique experience. In The Executioner you will find yourself taking control of the hammer wielding psychopath, better known as The Keeper, who stalked Sebastian throughout the main campaign. The entirety of the DLC will have you hunting for prey as you explore the depths of Ruvik’s mansion through the very eyes of a murderer that has a safe for a head. Not only is there a new perspective that grants a completely different way to see the world of Shinji Mikami’s horror tale, but The Executioner provides an over the top killing spree style of gameplay that will have you punishing your enemies as if you were Pyramid Head in the Labyrinth of the Toluca Lake Prison.
There is no hiding from enemies while you look for ways to overpower them when you can simply bash their skulls in and perform executions whenever they are weakened. It’s really a no holds barred blood soaked slugfest until the very end, and it feels liberating to slaughter everything in your path for a change. The Executioner is unlike anything experienced in the entirety of The Evil Within including both DLC story missions, The Assignment and The Consequence which involved Juli Kidman, because you are a torturer, an ender of all things, and you feel in complete control over The Keeper while you extinguish life. This isn’t just a killing spree, its extermination.
The Executioner offers a maniacal mission based structure to The Evil Within and its flow can feel pretty linear as you traverse through Ruvik’s mansion. As The Keeper, your main objective is to destroy many of the villains from The Evil Within, minus those from the Kidman chronicles, to save your daughter from the evil corporation MOBIUS. They have taken her and implanted her mind directly into STEM, so she is becoming lost amidst the turmoil of Ruvik and Leslie. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to understand the entire story to have fun playing as The Keeper, and that’s because The Executioner isn’t story-related as Juli Kidman’s were. You play as a nameless and literally faceless man that does everything that is commanded of him, all to save the mind of his beloved nameless child. To do this, you must follow orders set by MOBIUS and you pick up folders containing information on your marks that will have you traversing deeper into the mansion to find them. Once you do a tiny bit of searching, you come face to face with some old enemies from The Evil Within such as The Sadist and Amalgam Alpha and they are the ones that must pay for MOBIUS’s crimes.
The Executioner does have a method to its madness, and it isn’t about just wielding a death hammer. On the surface, The Executioner seems like a rather clichéd form of storytelling where a father must save his daughter from the unthinkable clutches of The Evil Within. It’s not exactly as cut and dry as one would expect, however, because the backdrop of the narrative really is about expanding upon the pain and torment that MOBIUS has caused throughout the STEM Project, and it’s really interesting to explore how messed up things have become at the hands of this one company. It reminds me a lot of The Umbrella Corporation, and playing through Resident Evil 2 for the first time where you realize exactly how dire the situation has become. You will meet old faces, and you will have to kill them. You will feel heart ache and even a bit of inner turmoil, as this is the nature of The Keeper.
The increased attention to murder is both alluring and welcoming after experiencing the menacing universe of Kidman’s ordeal. As I mentioned, you never have to worry about hiding, and you won’t really have to use strategy to defeat enemies either. All you have to do is stay alive long enough so that you can deplete the boss’s health bar to move on. This is all because you most certainly never have to worry about being overpowered. You are a 7’7, 750 lb tank when playing as The Keeper, and you can take a considerable amount of damage when compared to Juli or even Sebastian. It’s because of this that the battles themselves aren’t too difficult as you will gain health packs from defeating smaller foes and it should keep you on your feet until you are able to overcome the bigger and more volatile marks. Now that’s not saying that you won’t die on your first play through, because you will. But all that changes after you start acquiring weapons from your fallen enemies. Battles tend to end rather quickly and the entirety of The Executioner took me a little under 2 hours to complete on my first playthrough, in which I died a total of 4 times. That’s incredible when compared to my umpteen-something deaths in The Assignment and it’s because you are granted the tools to overcome everything that attempts to halt your mission.
The gameplay can be a bit repetitive at times, but that isn’t saying much if you absolutely love to murder things. The Executioner is more “horror” and less “survival” in the sense that it’s extremely fun to grab your nemesis by the throat after bashing their head in a few times, then impale them by throwing them into a spiked wall. Specialty weapons unique to The Keeper and upgrades return to The Evil Within, so after defeating a boss you are granted a new toy to play around with. Weapons include chainsaws, Molotov cocktails, and Barb-wire mines that can be upgraded by finding Memory Coins which are hidden throughout the mansion in crates and can also be gained by destroying enemies. Defeating bosses will accrue more Memory Coins which are solely used to level up The Keeper’s parameters and purchase new weapons and ammunition. So it is interesting that with the little amount of time that you’re granted with The Keeper, The Executioner allows you to actually grow stronger and isn’t completely a hands off experience as both The Assignment and The Consequence felt. The mansion is a living and bleeding entity as the enemies that lurk in its corners makes it feel that much more animated.
While you’re searching for MOBIUS files and tracking down the other villains to maim, you can partake in a side dungeon called the Execution Chamber. This allows you to kill waves of enemies and gain Memory Coins to build up The Keeper and his arsenal. It’s a lot of fun to get a hang of the combat and you can try out your new weapons and familiarize yourself with them before the next mission. There’s nothing worse than getting overwhelmed by peons when you have no idea how to use the chainsaw because you’re too busy wasting the gas on quicker enemies that have a higher defense. In saying that, you never have to use any of the extra weapons if you don’t choose to, because the hammer is more than sufficient. You can play through these arenas as many times as you like and can only leave after you either defeat all of the enemies or are killed trying to do so.
There is also a New Game Plus mode that unlocks new weapons, a harder mission to take on, and an extremely challenging Execution Chamber. You retain all of your weapons and upgrades so you now can engage in the harder challenges that await you. The game itself remains the same for the most part, and there isn’t a Kurayami mode that was experienced in Kidman’s plight, so don’t expect an increased difficulty by having limited senses. The final Execution Chamber is probably the most challenging aspect about The Executioner and it is only available after completing the main game in a NG+. I was struggling to stay alive in what could be compared to a boss rush mode and the challenge that this chamber provides is alone worth the price of admission because of its incredible difficulty. You have to combine all of the skills you have acquired all the while swinging your hammer, switching to your chainsaw for smaller foes, and using the barb-wire mines to stun the bigger baddies while lobbing dynamite sticks at them so they are dispatched of quickly. I have to say it is by far the best part of The Executioner because it is the true test of this entire experience by requiring you to be pretty beefed up before you can even think about attempting it. Getting there is only half the battle, but once you are inside, the real nightmare truly begins.
The Executioner ends The Evil Within saga on a relatively high note because it brings enough enjoyment to the table if you’re into murdering everything on screen. But is it worth $5? I believe that it is, mainly because where The Executioner pales in length and in story, it makes up for it with fantastic gameplay mechanics that only begin to shine in the main campaign and are then accentuated in a New Game Plus. The world of The Evil Within feels reborn in The Executioner, and its really a treat to experience something so different within the same saga. The New Game Plus mode and the extras involved with it are worthwhile, and if you’re a horror fanatic that loves the world that Mikami has created, The Executioner feels very “Mikami”. Keep in mind that The Executioner is not as terrifying as The Assignment (my personal favorite), where you felt completely helpless at every turn. Nor is it as finite in trying to complete a story as The Consequence did, in attempting to wrap up the entirety of this Mikami mind screw of a narrative. What The Executioner offers is a new way to view The Evil Within from the first person perspective of an anti hero that must finish what MOBIUS started.