The Evil Within was a gruesome, nail biting game that at times made me feel as useless as the infested corpses I was decapitating. After playing through the first of the three-part DLC, it's clear the developers have crafted an experience that expands upon the stealth aspects of the original game, as well as providing a compelling story which attempts to explain the unknown whereabouts of Sebastian Castellanos’ partner, Juli Kidman.
Taking on the role of Kidman, this is the first of her two part segment that runs concurrently with the original campaign. The Assignment starts with you waking up from the car crash of the original game and transports you to the eerie office headquarters, where you're given 'The Assignment' - to find the lost mental patient Leslie before the powerful escaped test subject, Ruvik, does. You are then injected with some psychedelic juice and the madness begins.
Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within was inherently a throwback to his magnum opus, Resident Evil 4, but it was an atmospheric gorefest which consistently left me in the mind-set of “Holy fuck, how am I going to get out of this?”. Mixing up big action fights with typical survival horror gameplay, the two styles occasionally left me confused on which approach I should take. At times I found myself getting a little too over excited, running through levels showering bullets into every cancerous-looking creature I could find, only to reach an incredibly powerful boss that would force me to play through the chapter again, this time with a significant amount of restraint.
The stealth system though, which allowed you to instantly kill most mobs by creeping up behind them knifing them in throat, has expanded upon for “The Assignment”. Your trusty knife has been whipped away, forcing you to use any item you can get your hands on. Unfortunately, this time it doesn’t include a shotgun.
Rather than large, open, spacious environments, you're now constricted to Dead Space-esque dark rooms and corridors, albeit allowing you outside briefly, within heavily closed-off areas. Without weapons you're heavily encouraged to throw empty bottles to draw the attention of enemies and sneak past undetected.
To aid you in your stealthiness, The Assignment introduces a new cover-based mechanic, which allows you to hide and sneak behind objects. As a stealth action game you're no longer going to be killing hordes of enemies while your partner takes far too long to open a weird, over complicated door. No longer are you able to make the mistake of going Rambo, as the game immediately strips you of all weapons and, apart from the occasional one time use axe, it keeps it that way.
This time around you don’t have to worry about collecting jars of goo in order to level up, as there is no upgrade system. Without the inventory and ammo management of the original the game it makes for an easier experience. The difficulty has gone from working out how many bullets you can afford to waste, to working out the correct route through a room in order to avoid enemies. That’s not to say there isn’t a few “oh fuck it” moments where you will abandon all stealth and sprint to what you hope is the nearest checkpoint door.
Replacing the lantern, you now have a torch which you can focus on specific symbols to unveil hidden doors and areas. There are a number of puzzles and traps scattered throughout the game too, which you have to solve in order to progress.
Like the original, what The Evil Within: The Assignment does so well is creating a terrifyingly frantic atmosphere. You're pursued throughout the game by a creepy figure which you must always avoid. When Juli is hiding in cover and an enemy comes close you can see her shudder with fear. It’s the little details that make this game so atmospheric.
In total, it took me just over 3 and a half hours to complete The Assignment, but that's without collecting all the hidden documents and secrets. The season pass is currently priced at £14, and if the following two instalments are at the quality of this, it will be a safe purchase.
In conclusion, The Assignment provides a much more stealth-focused approach than the original The Evil Within and is different enough to make it feel like you’re not just playing through a rehash of the same experience. If you enjoyed the original, or games such as The Last of Us, then this is an experience you will most likely have fun with.