Made by Shinji Mikami, the man responsible for the awesome Resident Evil 4, The Evil Within has top survival-horror pedigree.
It also adheres rigidly to genre cliches, featuring well-worn motifs such as the deserted mansion and twisted hospital, spliced with the stealth and messy, desperate combat perfected in The Last Of Us. Making up for a lack of scares by being very nasty, the opening scenes alone generate more spilled claret than a Conservative club ball. Its generally rewarding combat and level of challenge are let down by dingy scenery and slightly awkward third-person action, where the hero often seems to be crouching in front of the very thing you’re trying to look at. The script and voice acting are no better, and the central character, Detective Castellanos, has a personality somewhere between a brick and the speaking clock. His cohorts are just as dissociated, remaining inexplicably calm in the face of endless explosive disembowelment.
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Project Spark, Xbox One
Project Spark lets you make your own games. Starting with a blank digital canvas, you add scenery, props, characters and a hero, giving each element a “brain” that tells it how to respond to everything from gravity to player input. From those basics you can cook up platform games, first-person shooters and zombie-apocalypse scenarios. The problem is that the resulting games aren’t much fun, and even the pre-packaged story levels falter, enemies getting stuck behind objects and items you’ve dropped floating in mid-air or gradually migrating offscreen during moments of plot exposition. The user-generated levels fare even worse. Despite noble ambitions, Project Spark’s output isn’t as compelling as minigames made with the similarly open-ended creative tools in LittleBigPlanet.
Anyone who plays games regularly will know that their treatment of women can be abjectly sexist. A recent survey suggested that 76% of developers are male, and while there are an increasing number of games eschewing risible stereotypes, this is still an industry with a diversity problem. #gamergate started with an accusation – now debunked – that a female indie developer had traded sexual favours for positive reviews. It escalated into an online slanging match about ethics in games journalism, culminating in death threats to feminist blogger Anita Sarkeesian that forced her to cancel a public appearance. Away from the hyperbole, few would argue that games offer fair representation to the 52% (according to the Internet Advertising Bureau) of their audience that isn’t male, and it’s depressing that this conversation can’t be had without attracting the worst kind of trolling.
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