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  • Anti-Climax Boss: Downplayed with Ruvik and his Amalgam form. It's not exactly a cakewalk, but it's far less brutal than the other boss battles you've experienced because Sebastian manages to get his hands on a Humvee-mounted machine gun with infinite ammo and a rocket launcher with multiple shots to finish Ruvik off. It's very much plot-justified, since by this point Sebastian has figured out the true nature of the hellish "reality" he's been trapped in, and his Heroic Willpower is strong enough to finally wrest some control away from Ruvik and start fighting back on his own terms. Not to mention, considering the other bosses in the game, none of this is particularly bad.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: The widescreen and difficulty were points of contention among many people, with the widescreen generally seen as distracting rather than cinematic, and the difficulty considered too punishing and unfair. The game was patched around June 2015, to allow you to remove the Letterboxing, allowing you to play in fullscreen, and altering Casual Difficulty to be more merciful; Haunted are much less likely to revive once dropped, the odds of scoring critical headshots are higher, bomb disarming never increases in speed, and bosses are just as lethal as always, but take a lot less firepower to kill.
  • Awesome Music: The main theme, "Long Way Down", is creepy, sinister, and quite awesome, with its morose acoustic guitar and vocals provided by Gary Numan. Yes, that Gary Numan.
  • Best Boss Ever: Some bosses, like Laura, are just cool in design and atmosphere. Some are challenging. Some have nifty gimmicks, like the safe-head Keeper. He keeps respawning, and even kills himself just to respawn closer to you at one point!
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  • Best Level Ever: Chapter 9 is praised by many as being the strongest chapter in the game. It has a great atmosphere that is an Expy to the mansion from Resident Evil, features the first time in the game where Ruvik actively hunts you down, has some interesting puzzles, and explains the backstory of Ruvik.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: One scene in the game has Sebastian meet with Marcelo's brother Valerio, who was shown to have become a Haunted. After killing the now-corrupted doctor, the whole encounter is never brought up again afterwards. Granted, the scene is completely optional since killing Valerio is only really required to get a locker key, but still.
  • Breather Boss: Quell, the last regular boss you face. It edges into Goddamned Boss territory with its invisibility gimmick and explosive hatchlings it sends after you, but the fact that it doesn't move very quickly and has no sudden One-Hit Kill moves (and can easily be shot out of the one it does use) makes it among the easiest bosses by default.
  • Breather Level:
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    • After the brutal slog through Chapters 13 and 14, the first part of Chapter 15 comes off as this since you're just following Leslie back into the asylum, and there are no enemies whatsoever until you reach the hallway where Ruvik killed the three cops at the beginning of the game.
    • Chapter 8 is very short and comes after the harrowing Chapter 7, with its Alter-Egos and the Keeper. Although the cave you have to explore is also crawling with Alter-Egos (which now have a new One-Hit Kill move), but if you have enough ammo in your sniper rifle, you can just headshot each of them from a safe distance and never actually have to fight them.
    • Chapter 12 is mercifully short after the very tough, very long Chapter 10 (which has not one, but two bosses), and the not quite as long but still pretty challenging Chapter 11. That being said, while the chapter is short, you still have to fight through hordes of enemies on a tightly cramped bus, but it's made somewhat easier by the fact that you have Kidman and Joseph to aid you.
  • Broken Base:
    • The Trial-and-Error Gameplay, Checkpoint Starvation, and overall difficulty of the game. While some find this endearing and challenging, others find it incredibly annoying and frustrating.
    • Most of the bosses have a One-Hit Kill attack that they can pull out at any time: for some this presents a challenge and increases the tension of boss fights; for others it's just a source of frustration.
    • The sheer amounts of gorn has also caused a bit of a divide. While some find that it really shows the graphical prowess of the game and is genuinely sickening, others find themselves desensitized to it quickly. Not helped by other games released around the same time that also featured huge amounts of gorn.
  • Catharsis Factor: It is very fun to kill the enemies in The Executioner DLC that gave you major trouble in the base game itself.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Invisible Haunted. They're damage sponges and, of course, are invisible. It is possible to sneak kill them by using a flash bolt, but you gotta get lucky with that since it only really works once you're aware of their presence (same with explosive trap bolts, which can do wonders against these freaks if you're able to lure them into a bottleneck).
    • Alter Egos. Absurdly strong, cannot be sneak-killed, can shrug off multiple grenades, and since they have two heads they require two critical shots to kill (unless using a sniper rifle). They return in Chapter 14 with a new One-Hit KO attack.
    • Traumas have enough health and attack power to approach Boss in Mook Clothing status. Not only will they soak up your entire supply of ammunition in short order, but their massive frames often block your path and make it difficult to dodge their charge attacks. And then they shed the beams on their back and unleash hitherto-unknown ranged grappling attacks.
    • Doppelgangers, the Ruvik copies near the end of the game. They are Damage Sponges, often fought in tight corridors, are nearly impossible to stealth kill, and have an attack where they summon hands to chase after you, and if they grab you, the copy walks towards Sebastian and instantly liquefies him. Made worse on harder difficulties where they appear much earlier in the game.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Even before the game made it to shelves, Ruvik, the disfigured madman who rules the Dark World, had a substantial legion of fans. After release, they only multiplied. His attire doesn't help. And this is all whilst fully acknowledging his physical disfigurement and love of dissecting things. Aggressively.
  • Ending Fatigue: The final few levels go on for a very long time, and tend to reuse similar set pieces from earlier.
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: On the flip side, other players focus more on the story than enjoying the gameplay, attempting to put together the puzzle and create analytical theories.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Laura only appears in a few chapters (and only once in a flashback as her human form) and her only role in the game is to be a boss and act as Ruvik's Morality Chain. Despite this fans adore her, and she receives as much attention and love from the fandom as the main characters.
  • Foe Yay: Fans have latched on to one of the speeches Ruvik gives to Sebastian:
    "I know who you are, 'Seb.' I know what you crave, what you fear... Will you be able to live with yourself knowing what I'm going to make you do? [...] But either way, you're mine, to do with as I please."
  • Game-Breaker:
    • The final upgrade to the vanilla harpoon for the Agony Crossbow is incendiary. Since fire is a one-hit kill to most common enemies in the game, it can make later levels an absolute cakewalk: the bolts are as cheap to make as ever and work wonders on some of the nastier enemies like the above-mentioned Alter Egos and Doppelgangers.
    • Joseph equipped with an axe can one-hit enemies and has infinite health so long as you remember to periodically heal him. It's easier to just lay back during these chapters and let him take care of all the enemies for you, saving a crapton of ammo in the process. Even on AKUMU, he can withstand a hit or two and kill monsters grabbing Sebastian mid-animation, preventing a Game Over. When he's captured or separated from Sebastian he can still be turned into this. It's possible to fire explosive bolts into his head which detonate when Joseph comes into contact with enemies. This is actually a viable tactic against some normally very troublesome bosses on the hardest difficulties. One humorous example demonstrated here.
    • Many of the weapons the player receives in the New Game+ run definitely qualify. Though ammo refills are not available, the rocket launcher comes with a hefty supply of rockets, which can make quick work of bosses and strong enemies.
    • The brass knuckles received after completing the game on Nightmare, combined with a fully upgraded melee damage, can kill most enemies in one punch, which saves greatly on ammunition.
  • Good Bad Bugs: You shoot anything your aiming reticle is pointing at, literally. If an object blocks the camera's view of Seb, he can shoot forward and somehow put a bullethole in the obstruction directly behind him.
  • He's Just Hiding!: A large part of the fandom didn't believe that Joseph's death in Chapter 15 was permanent, despite them getting shot in the chest and Sebastian himself believing them to dead. Partly because there was no actual confirmation that they died after being shot, and partly because they're a popular character that many fans didn't want to see get killed in such an offhand manner. The fans' disbelief was vindicated when The Consequence DLC revealed that Joseph did actually survive.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • Sebastian's relationship with Leslie. At the beginning he's put off by Leslie and wonders what's wrong with the guy. By the end he's one of the few people not out to hurt Leslie, is actively trying to protect him despite knowing the high risks involved in doing so, and helps reassure and comfort Leslie whenever he's in distress.
    • Ho Yay aside, Sebastian and Joseph's relationship. They're opposites in terms of personality but they've been partners a long time and they care about each other. They're always openly happy to see each other after they've gotten separated again, and Sebastian doesn't hesitate to help Joseph when he needs it, or ask if he's alright.
    • Sebastian's willingness to risk death just to get Joseph's glasses. Joseph doesn't even ask him to get them.
    • The journal entry where Sebastian welcomes his yet-to-be-born daughter Lily into the world. It may be Harsher in Hindsight in this game, but the events of the sequel just make it that much sweeter.
  • Ho Yay: Sebastian and Joseph have a fair amount of this:
    • "Hold to heal partner" has become a meme on its own.
    • Sebastian tends to be very, very hands on when it comes to Joseph. The first time you get Joseph, you come across him in a bathtub, and as soon as Sebastian gets him out, his hands are all over Joseph's body. Later he grabs Joseph by the butt and presses his hand to his thigh when and waist when Joseph gets shot by a sniper.
    • Their grunts and moans of pain or exhaustion sound rather suggestive out of context. After the Sentry's attack when Sebastian helps carry an injured Joseph to safety, if you aren't watching the events, it legitimately sounds like they're having sex.
    • "You know I didn't report you because I was worried about your work, Sebastian." There's also Joseph's Affectionate Nickname for his partner, "Seb".
    • Some Alternate Character Interpretation suggests Joseph is repeatedly hurt and in need of saving by Sebastian, and kept sparkling clean, because Ruvik knows Sebastian cares for him and is using Joseph's suffering to hurt Sebastian. Parallels to Maria's role in Silent Hill 2 have been made.
    • Consider that when Ruvik first speaks directly to Sebastian on the elevator in Chapter 10, he's mostly using references to Joseph to hurt Sebastian. He invokes Joseph's Affectionate Nickname for Sebastian, brings up Joseph's near-suicide, "poor little Joseph". Sebastian has lost a wife and child in the past and struggles with alcoholism - things that Ruvik HAS to know, but apparently Joseph is his primary vulnerable point. And then the phrase "what you crave, what you fear" is a rather interesting choice of words to use for this monologue.
    • The description accompanying the character models for younger Sebastian and Joseph from The Consequence DLC really, really emphasizes Joseph's relationship to Sebastian as his partner and how much he's supported him.
  • HSQ:
    • The game is full of "Oh shit, oh shit, OH SHIT!!" moments, but Chapter 1 arguably provides the best example, where your pursuer is an ugly, hulking, pissed-off maniac armed with a huge, rusty chainsaw; you, meanwhile, are armed with a limp.
    • The last boss fight against Laura is so difficult to deal with, and the margin for error to avoid her One-Hit Kill is so slim, that you can't help always feeling as though you barely escaped the encounter with your life; that's because you did.
  • Interface Screw: Punching can become a viable method of combat late in the game, especially with the brass knuckles. However, the button for punching is the same for stomping and kicking on fallen enemies. For some reason, Sebastian sometimes prioritizes kicking a dead enemy on the ground over punching an enemy running toward you.
  • It's Hard, So It Sucks!: The biggest criticism of the game is its immense difficulty, which is what led to the above-mentioned patch that lowered said difficulty. There's often pretty long intervals in-between each checkpoint, enemies are fast and pack quite a punch, most of the bosses can kill you in one hit, and resources are more of a hit and miss.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: While the game has a number of plot differences from Resident Evil, multiple factors such as the references toward said franchise, similar characters, and gameplay along the lines of Resident Evil 4 led to some criticism toward the game not being distinct enough.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Ruvik. Despite the interference of Sebastian and co., and due in part to the Poor Communication Kills on the good guys's part, he manages to outmaneuver them all and is implied to have successfully possessed Leslie's body.
  • Memetic Badass: All hail Broseph, unstoppable Haunted slayer, capable of shrugging off arrows to the brain or worse, and taking the Keeper out for good in a single blow if the truckloads of fanart are any indication. Some people even forget he ever wielded anything other than an axe. The fact that he is descended from a clan of ninja according to Word of God does not dissuade this attitude at all.
  • Memetic Molester: Ruvik. As if his speech in the elevator wasn't suggestive enough, it is also implied that he left Sebastian a bite mark after their first encounter.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The villagers cross it when they burn down the Victoriano's barn, even after one man says that he can hear children playing inside. Judging by how one of the first places you visit is based on their rural village, one can only imagine how Ruvik made these guys suffer for that. It's a little harder to place exactly where Ruvik himself passed it, but killing his father for locking him away, along with his innocent mother, seems the best candidate.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • The sound of enemies being blown apart when killed is incredibly satisfying. It can happen to you however.
    • Debussy's "Clair de Lune", after the encounter with the Sadist, is always used to indicate that a mirror entrance to the Asylum is nearby (meaning a save point, upgrades, and great items from the safes if you have a key).
  • Narm:
    • Being chased by Ruvik in Chapter 9 is tense as all hell, but it can quickly turn into this if you get him in the entrance hall. Despite his ability to quickly teleport to you, he never really adapts to your tactics and because he's so slow, it's pretty easy to keep away from him. Once you get him on the staircase, it devolves to keeping an eye on him while the two of you play ring-around-the-rosie.
    • At the beginning of the game Sebastian and crew escape the collapsing cityscape in an ambulance. The scene drags on long enough to stop seeming like a horror game and devolve into a scene from 2012.
    • Some monsters will flap around like a ragdoll when they die. Even Sebastian's corpse will flop around if he's crushed to death. And if you blow enemies up, their pieces look like a shop-window mannequin was taken apart and only start flying to pieces after their body is launched through the air.
  • Narm Charm: The final battle is utterly ridiculous, but it's still awesome.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Has a page.
  • Nightmare Retardant: The duel with Joseph in The Assignment DLC. The encounter would be a lot scarier if he's capable of taking off more than 1/5 of your health at a time, note  or do away with the incredibly hammy voice-acting that makes him sound like a Saturday morning cartoon villain.
  • Obvious Beta: One of the game's biggest points of criticism was that it was extremely unstable. It would repeatedly crash not only on PCs, but also on consoles.
  • Play the Game, Skip the Story: Some players play the game and choose to avoid searching for collectibles that aid in the understanding of the story, believing it to be a nonsensical, convoluted plot
  • Porting Disaster: On top of not being the most well-optimized title on PC, it was locked to 30 FPS even on PC. That said, patches eventually solved the latter and lessened the former. Sadly, similar to Vanquish (also directed by Shinji Mikami), at high frame rates the game is much more difficult than intended. Enemy grab attacks damage you insanely faster (enough to take off 80%-90% of your health in one attack on Normal), and enemies delay much less before attacking. Unlike Vanquish, this was never fixed and the design team explicitly stated that they never intended the game to be played above 30 fps.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Juli Kidman gets a lot of flak from players for their actions, with some placing them on the level of Albert Wesker in terms of betrayal. This is despite the fact that, technically speaking, they never actively betray Sebastian, shooting Joseph was an accident, Juli's motive for killing Leslie is due to a lack of any safer and more certain options for preventing Ruvik from escaping the STEM system and menacing the world, and shooting Sebastian (non-fatally) was a matter of self-defense against the man, who was becoming a Haunted. She also covers for Sebastian Faking the Dead against her employers after the defeat of Ruvik, despite her failure to protect Leslie from him. Though they do some amoral things and face no repercussions for them, they're likely not nearly as bad as the audience perceives them to be, especially given who they're based upon.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The fact that your sprint is disabled if your health falls below a certain percentage. Since as a mechanic it basically amounts to "We're going to take away your sprint when you probably need it most."
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: A common complaint is that after Chapter 1 it's really slow for the first third of the game, with the rustic, vaguely-European village setting just a tad too similar to the first third of Resident Evil 4. The atmosphere gets much better after that point, and starts picking up where Chapter 1 left off again.
  • Special Effect Failure: It's hard to find a review that doesn't call attention to the frequent and very noticeable texture pop-in.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: If any fans of The Elder Scrolls ever wondered what a spin-off set entirely in Quagmire (Vaermina's plane of Oblivion) would be like, they need only to play this game.
    • Both titles are either the best video game adaption of A Nightmare on Elm Street or The Cell. Ruvik, being a clear expy of Freddy Kruger certainly helps, and is even voiced by Jackie Earle Haley; who played as Kruger in the remake. The first game in particular has you in the mind of a serial killer The series is also seen as the psychological horror equivalent of Inception.
  • That One Achievement:
    • Two of the achievements is to beat the game on both Nightmare and AKUMU difficulty. Good luck with those (especially the latter).
    • Another achievement is to kill Laura in chapter 10 rather than running to the elevator when the fire goes out. Since Laura is a damage sponge that really can only be taken out with fire (she's not outright Immune to Bullets, but you'll need fire to keep her in place, since guns alone barely make her flinch), not to mention can instantly kill you if she gets anywhere near you, it's going to require a lot of firepower to accomplish this.
  • That One Boss:
    • Most of the bosses are this. While they are praised for their designs and implications to what they are, many players don't like them for being Damage Sponges, having obscure weaknesses, and having one-hit kill attacks that are hard to avoid.
    • The Sentinel in particular can be counted as this. Although fought in a brightly lit and fairly open area, its speed and size make it nearly impossible to dodge its charge attacks. Unlike the previous battle with Neun and Zehn, resources to replenish your stocks are almost nonexistent, so if the player is low on health or ammunition, it can be next to impossible to defeat the boss (he is, thankfully, skippable).
    • Laura in Chapter 10 is a hatefully sadistic Puzzle Boss. She has a damage threshold set so high as to be practically unkillable, is lightning-fast, can Flash Step toward you while you're trying to aim at her or the valves to need to shoot, and uses her extremely long reach to trap you in a One-Hit Kill that she does constantly. Thanks to that, no amount of weapon or ability upgrades can make her any less miserable to deal with, even on the easiest difficulty. And this level of challenge is just to run away from her! Laura can be killed if you're sufficiently powerful, quick on the draw and damn lucky, but to give you an idea of what a travail that is to do, only a single-digit percentage of players have gotten the trophy/achievement for it.
    • Alpha Amaglam in Chapter ten for all the reasons listed at the beginning of this entry, and on top of that, you fight him in an incredibly punishing Boss Arena where it is very easy to get boxed in.
    • The encounter with the Spotlight creature at the end of "The Assignment" Chapter 1. You need to stay out of its sight for a lengthy period of time while it aggressively stalks you throughout a relatively small chamber. Spotlight is a lot more perceptive compared to the Haunted you've been sneaking past up until now, able to detect you instantly if even the tiniest sliver of your form is caught in its beam, and it is both very fast and capable of slowing you down by shining its light on you. Death is all but guaranteed if Kidman is spotted here, and certain passageways fill with electrical arcs as the power comes back on, making it even harder to avoid getting eaten.
  • That One Level:
    • Some people, while still appreciating the atmosphere, really loathe Chapter 9. Namely that Ruvik chases you down periodically throughout the chapter. While he is very slow, if he gets close to you he kills you instantly, including if he notices you hiding. What makes this frustrating is a moment where this happens right after a complex puzzle but before a checkpoint which means if Ruvik kills you, you will be sent back to the start of the puzzle. Not helping is the fact that his encounters are completely random; other than the screen turning blue and the music changing, there's literally no indication when and where he's going to pop up. And if you try to bait his AI to avoid him until he despawns (such as circling around a large table, he never moves faster than a slow walk), he can instantly warp on top of you, instantly killing you.
    • Chapter 10. After luring you in with the interesting carousel setpiece at the start and an eerie, cautious trek through a pitch-black maze to turn on a generator, the punishment begins hailing down on you and doesn't let up at all until the chapter is completed. You have to tangle with that same maze now filled with activated death traps and several Traumas (the last two are faced simultaneously), another encounter with Laura as detailed under That One Boss, and finally the Amalgam Alpha, which —wouldn't you know it— is also really fast and has a One-Hit Kill it uses repeatedly!
    • Chapter 11 isn't as long as the above two chapters, but it's still incredibly frustrating considering there are enemies just about everywhere; most of them have guns, crossbows, molotovs, or are shielded via police armor and masks. Plus there are a few areas that require avoiding enemies that can kill you immediately, such as a fish-like monster in the waters and a pair of Traumas in an area where you aren't allowed to use your firearms due to a gas leak.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Sebastian's backstory is only mentioned in papers you find scattered throughout the game, and almost plays no part in the entire game, when the death of his daughter could have been exploited by Ruvik to torture Sebastian. Might be left for a Sequel Hook since Myra, his wife, can be seen and heard as working for Mobius in the DLCs. Confirmed with the reveal of The Evil Within 2, with Sebastian going back into STEM after Kidman reveals to him to that Lily isn't dead, but was kidnapped by Mobius for use in their STEM experiments.
    • In the Assignment and Consequence DLC, Kidman can find notes written by and memories featuring Jimenez, but does not encounter him in-person. It's a shame because not only could he have provided the exposition for some of these clues himself and react to Kidman's reaction to them, but both being employees of Mobius, with Jimenez being seen as a traitor and Kidman herself an initially loyal agent who later decides to disobey orders and become a traitor herself would have made for an awful lot of interesting potential for their interactions. Especially with Ruvik trying to mess with Kidman and make her doubt herself and Mobius.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Leslie is a unisex name but is generally regarded as more feminine. That and his youthful appearance has led to players mistaking him for a girl in the early parts of the game.
  • The Woobie: Leslie Withers. Throughout the entire game he's pursued by people who wish to possess him, kill him, or cause him intense pain for the sake of the greater good. His Dark and Troubled Past (his parents abandoning him, notes detailing about how he became mentally ill when having seen his family get killed right before him as well as the implications that he was abused/neglected by his caretakers, given the state of his body) and his nervous, child-like demeanor due to his mental disorders only cement his status as one.

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