Let's begin with the pros, since I'll be a bit harsh with the cons.
While the aiming is nothing special, the bullet feedback and impact on the enemies is just superb! This game has the best headshots of ALL TIME! I was planning on replaying RE4 after finishing this, but man I think I'll feel a downgrade when I pop someone's head off.
The Traps, Agony Crossbow, and Matches add a sweet layer of strategy to every encounter, I love how I can throw one match and watch a whole mob of Haunted burn to death, very satisfying and a great crowd control tactic. And every bolt with the Agony Crossbow felt like it served a purpose, I used all of them extensively and they were very useful and offered different tactical benefits.
I also liked how I could use the traps in the environments against the enemies, and that will lead me to the second point:
... Is mostly excellent! Especially evident in levels like Ch.7 and Ch.10, enemy and trap placement is also great. The game is at it's best when it throws at you an open level filled with enemies, traps, and multiple ways to tackle it.
Pretty much the majority of those were excellent, but my highlight would be
Yeah, Naoki Katakai delivered, as expected. The Atmosphere and art is pretty damn good, very oppressive, but sometimes beautiful. Even locations such the city which I thought would be bland, turned out looking great.
Shitty pace-breaking "AAA" tropes:
Excuse the language, but this is the area where I felt Mikami has betrayed my faith in him:
-Crappy "forced walk/forced limp" sections.
-Shitty NPC Companion sections, not only do they ruin the sense of isolation, but also the atmosphere.
-Some unskipable cutscenes, and there is a lot of them. I nearly threw my controller at the part where
-PRESS FORWARD TO WIN setpieces that are prevalent in games such as Uncharted. Boring, very boring.
All of the above combined soured me on the game, especially on a second playthrough. I tried replaying a chapter but turned off the game because it keeps taking the controls from me with all these boring setpieces. By far my biggest complaint. Now compare this with every Mikami game has done in the past, the moment the opening cutscene is finished, the game instantly begins, no filler, no entire chapters focusing on just stealth or limping away.
Lack of Polish:
This effects pretty much every part of the game, but what I hated most was how the game sometimes doesn't recognize the button-prompts for burning enemies or picking items, so I try to re-position myself around until I can pick the item up, but the worst part in burning... Sometimes I tried to burn enemies but the prompt won't appear, and the enemy went back up. It was very frustrating.
The zoom and position of the camera changes depending on the level. Ch.3 had the camera zoomed and made the whole thing a bit nauseating for me. But the worst thing is the sneaking mode camera. I struggled with it a lot, especially when trying to peek from corners. This has made stealth not enjoyable for me.
Bullshit Trial-and-Error deaths:
Basically the reason I died a lot on this game. I'm against hand-holding, but at least the developer provide audio-visual cues to help the player understand what's required from them to beat this gameplay scenario. There are a lot of times in TEW where I had no idea how that thing would kill me.
Let me give you an example, you're being chased by something and you have to run (With the camera showing what's behind you, not infront of you). And there is what seems to be a puddle of liquid infront of you on the left side, but it turns out it's not a puddle but something deeper so Sebastian had to wade through it until he was caught. How do they expect me to avoid it if they didn't communicate to the player that it's deep? Why would something that deep be in a place like that anyway?
This the first thing I feared when they announced the game, that the mental hospital would serve as a kind of hub, and instead of a connected and cohesive adventure, you'll just be transported to different locations randomly... And that's what happened, unfortunately. When I finally get immersed in a location the game decides to just throw me back to the Mental Hospital (Which I got bored of it's aesthetics by the end of the game). As a result the game feels "all over the place" and random.
OST Is Bland:
Not a single track in the game stands out. It's just... bland.
Not pros or cons, but some thoughts on what I think were missed opportunities:
When I heard about the Morphing Environments element in the game, I thought I'd be used subtly to mess with the player, like "Where did that door go?!" and integrate it in the gameplay. But it's use has been superficial and cosmetic, just to transport you into different locations or to showcase story elements/setpieces.
Also, I wish the game had more variety in locations, especially when they were going with the "random transpositions from hub" route instead of a connected adventure. I mean look at these concept arts:
Almost none of them made the cut, and that disappointed me personally. What we've got was good, but I still would've liked more.
Overall, The Evil Within is a great game, but it doesn't reach the bar of quality I expect from Mikami (RE4, Godhand, Vanquish). It feels as Mikami is trying to appease to the AAA crowd by putting story and setpieces over gameplay. I certainly hope that this won't be Mikami's last directorial gig, I don't want his career to end with a whimper.