If last year's The Evil Within saw Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami reclaiming the survival horror gameplay he popularised, this double-whammy of DLC sees the genre pioneer playing around with toys from other horror games' playroom.
Taken together, The Assignment and The Consequence tell the story of Juli Kidman, erstwhile partner of the main game's hero, Sebastian, and explain just what she was up to during her prolonged absences from the core plot. It turns out that not only was she facing her own gauntlet of creepy beasts and unnerving boss fights, she was also involved in a plot that is arguably more important than Sebastian's B movie blundering.
Kidman is on the trail of Leslie Withers, the young male patient whose disappearance kicks off The Evil Within's original campaign. We learn that far from being some rookie partner cop, she's actually working undercover for a sinister agency, overseen by an ominous boss who is part Half Life's G-Man and part Slender. The storyline that follows is largely incomprehensible even by survival horror standards, told as it is largely through optional audio logs and text documents, with only the key plot points being laboriously spelled out in florid cut-scene dialogue.
It's in gameplay terms that this double bill of side story differentiates itself from its parent title. Where The Evil Within was pure survival horror, with ammo management, exploration and inventory-based puzzling, The Assignment and The Consequence are both stripped back to the bone. For the vast majority of their playing time, Kidman has no weapons and is armed only with a flashlight. Instead, evasion is her main skill. There were flourishes of this cover-based sneaking in the main game - most notably in that opening slaughterhouse chase - but this is pretty much a pure stealth game.
While the echoes of Resident Evil remain, these expansions have much more in common with classic Silent Hill.
It's a choice that ensures these expansions feel very different, but it also pushes the game engine beyond what it's comfortably capable of. The jerky camera and stiff movement, so devilishly nostalgic during Sebastian's adventure as he roamed mansion corridors and carefully lined up headshots, prove far more deadly when used to deliver this amount of creeping around.
Entering and exiting cover is a stodgy affair, while running away when spotted is rarely successful thanks to Kidman's wheezing lack of fitness. She can jog maybe ten feet before stopping to catch her breath, and since these stories offer no upgrade paths, you're stuck with this bizarre lethargy for the duration. Balancing this out is the fact that you don't need health syringes to patch yourself up after a scrap. Simply remain still, or hide in cover, and Kidman is back to full health in a few seconds.
Recharging health in a survival horror game? You can probably hear the genre purists sucking their teeth in disapproval already, and it does feel that the odd balancing of the DLC is down to the limitations of the original engine coupled with make-do solutions to the problems that throws up.
The result is an experience that is both surprisingly easy and often frustrating. Whenever you die it's generally because of sluggish movement or unhelpful camera angles, but then trial and error gets you past most enemies without too much fuss. They're never very smart, but most are at least unique to this DLC.
Save points take the form of a comfy leather sofa and a cat. Sit down, stroke the kitty and your progress is recorded.
There are blind crab-like corpse creatures that scuttle about in fixed patterns, only attacking with an instant death explosion if you bump into them. There are invisible enemies that only appear when caught in the glare of your flashlight. At best, you're able to take them down by finding hatchets and using them for a stealth kill. Inexplicably - and illogically - you can only do this once, the effort of retrieving these useful weapons from the bodies of enemies apparently too much effort for Kidman.
There are only a few moments where guns are used. One, in The Assignment, is a stationary shooting gallery where you don't get to keep the gun afterwards. The Consequence is a little more action-oriented, eventually granting you a pistol and later a shotgun. These prove essential against the game's Keeper boss character, which is basically Rocky Horror's Frank N. Furter crossed with a lighthouse by way of BioShock's Big Daddy.
In terms of pure mechanics, it's a real mixed bag. It's the context that really makes the difference, as both episodes are even weirder than the main game and take great delight in f***ing with your head. The bewildering location shifts come thick and fast - one of the benefits of having a mind-messing machine as your McGuffin of choice - and you're never entirely sure what's coming next.
Often, a new enemy or gameplay idea will be introduced for only a short while and then never used again. When so much DLC is blatantly an excuse to recycle assets, the willingness here to add fresh things is worthy of praise. When it does bring you back to familiar locations, it's always for a clever reason - playing with your knowledge of what else has happened in that spot, or offering a genuinely ingenious alternative perspective on things you did in the main story.
Sadly, the texture pop and chugging frame rate have carried over from the main game, even after a hefty update.
That generosity continues throughout, too. The collectables are nothing to get excited about - the same files and recordings scattered throughout the core game - and the only puzzles are simple and small in nature compared to Mikami's previous work. They really only come into play via a series of hidden safes, inside of which you'll find fragments of letters. Tucked away in self-contained secret areas, the solutions are almost always in the same room.
Yet when you finish both The Assignment and The Consequence, you'll unlock a New Game + option for those who fancy another run through, and Kurayami Mode, which ups the difficulty by switching off all the lights and forcing you to rely only on your flashlight to see what's going on. Coupled with the decent length of the episodes themselves - each lasting between three and four hours on average - and you've got DLC that goes above and beyond what is generally expected from add-ons released six months after a blockbuster launch.
I just wish it wasn't so clumsy where it counts, since there are few gameplay styles more off-putting than poor stealth, and the stealth here is often very poor indeed. Fans committed to the loopy storyline will probably be able to look past that and enjoy the surreal ride for its narrative and atmospheric pleasures. However, such frustrations can't help but drive a large rusty nail into the heart of an otherwise generous pair of expansions.
|The article or section below may contain minor to major plot spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.|
Heir to Victoriano Fortune
37 (at time of disappearance)
- "I know what you crave, what you fear..."
- ―Ruvik to Sebastian.
Ruben Victoriano, better known as Ruvik, is the primary antagonist in The Evil Withinand a secondary antagonist in The Assignment and The Consequence.
He is a thin, sharp-featured man who is heavily disfigured with various burns and scars, giving him the appearance of a walking cadaver. Seemingly unrestrained by the laws of physical reality, he is capable of teleportation, superhuman speed, and invulnerability to the majority of all physical assaults. Fueled in equal parts by a seeming desire for revenge and his own madness, Ruvik torments all those who come into contact with him.
Cut off from the outside world, Ruvik continued his research alone. Vicious burns have left his skin senseless and useless for regulating his body temperature. Ravaged by ceaseless headaches and physical and mental seizures, he was known for being close to the physical limits of his body.
As a child, Ruvik was slightly tall for his age. He was presented in a neatened style. He wore formal clothing consisting of black dress pants, a white shirt, a black waist coat and a red tie, and brown shoes. He was pale, had a large forehead, and possessed short blonde hair. His eyebrows were such a light blond, that they were difficult to see. His actual eyes possessed blue irises. At this time in his youth, his skin was clear and free of any scarring or blemishes. Like his sister Laura, he too resembled one of his parents, he himself resembling his father.
Coming of age, Ruvik grew to be fairly tall. During this time he was still working alongside Jimenez and continued to wear formal clothing, consisting of; a plain white shirt which was slightly unbuttoned around the neck, dark gray dress pants and brown shoes. He also supported heavy bandaging for his wounds around his hands and head (covering the majority of it. Due to his horrific injuries, he lacked any hair, and eyebrows. His eyes even had changed, his sclera turned more yellowish instead of white, and his irises became more transparent/gray. He was of average, if not slightly thin, build.
During the events of The Evil Within, Ruvik wore a tattered white robe that appeared to be burnt at its ends (including sleeve endings). Apart from this, the only other piece of clothing he wore light grey pants that showed evident burns, resulting in them ending at his knees. Various burns covered his body, particularly his torso and face, leaving him heavily scarred. The remainder of unburnt skin was left a sickly pale tone, giving him the appearance of a walking cadaver. The top right half of his cranium has been removed and replaced with a clear artificial skull, exposing his brain. Various holes are evidence in the artificial skull, a possible implication of self-experimentation.
Ruben Victoriano was a child prodigy but also mentally disturbed. Despite his young age, he made strong advancements in the fields of psychotherapy though his methods, as Jimenez states were inhumane in doing so. Regardless of his severely strained relationship with his father and anti-social, often twisted behavior, Ruvik loved his sister dearly. The fire that killed her and horrendously scarred him caused his psyche to completely warp. After the accident he was locked away from society by his father and plagued by schizophrenic hallucinations of Laura. His hatred and madness eventually consumed him until he murdered his parents to claim their fortune and further boost his research.
During his partnership with Mobius to develop STEM, Ruvik, whilst keeping his previous expertise on psychology and the scientific fields also became completely sadistic. He kidnapped dozens of people throughout Krimson City to advance STEM and experimented on them with their full awareness of the horrific experiments happening to them before connecting them to his machine. In spite of his immorality, Ruvik apparently wanted to use STEM to live with Laura inside his mind. However, despite needing Mobius' help, Ruvik became greatly angered how they continued to use his research under Jimenez name becoming so distrustful that he laid his house with traps to protect his research. Whilst trapped within STEM, even though Ruvik hated his imprisonment he also enjoyed his conscious influence over reality and lack restraints on reality which caused him to become more smug and confident as he believed that people within his own mind were nothing but his own playthings to toy with, Sebastian, Joseph, and Kidman in particular.
Despite his sharp memory of his previous life, as Sebastian delves further into Ruvik's memories, it reveals he has a surprisingly distorted view when it comes to his recollection of places and things He recalls the place where he was experimented on as a grotesque torture chamber, STEM as his own brain and the Victoriano mansion as a puzzle to reach his workshop.
Viewed through various flashbacks, it is learned that Ruvik (Ruben Victoriano) was a very intellectually gifted, but perhaps mentally unstable child; despite this and notes indicating a strained, though respectful, relationship with his father, he was quite close to his sister, Laura. Ruben lived in a family estate alongside his sister and parents, and his family was known to Doctor Marcelo Jimenez for their frequent and hefty donations to Beacon Mental Hospital.
At some point a young Ruben met and talked with the doctor, who had discovered the young boy's research facility, and assured the troubled boy that he was no monster, and that he, too had done things some would consider 'distasteful' in the name of progress. Beyond this, his father was evidently involved in a religious organization of some sort, donating to the church frequently and ignoring the various scandals faced by the institution, something that Ruben frowned upon.
While playing in a barn on their family's property, several men approached and set fire to the building as an act of vengeance against their parents, who had evidently been buying and managing large amounts of land in the area. Laura saved Ruben by pushing him through a small window in the barn, but was unable to get out of the barn herself; Ruben was horrifically disfigured from his burns.
His father then took to hiding the disfigured and mentally traumatized Ruben into the basement of the family manor, apparently without Ruben's mother's knowledge of his survival. She later mentions in a frantic note that despite her husband's assurances that both children died in the blaze, she feels that Ruben was still alive, and claims to have heard his cries coming from the basement. Voices heard as well as a diary entry found in the manor later in the game show she grieved quite deeply over the apparent deaths of her two children. Ruben himself was haunted and deeply disturbed over Laura's death as well as the pain and disfigurement he himself suffered as a result of the blaze.
Some time after the loss of Laura, his own terrible burning, and his essential imprisonment at the hands of his father, Ruben eventually killed both of his parents in their bedroom. Taking control of the manor funds, he continued to 'donate' to Beacon Mental Hospital in exchange for test subjects for his various experiments, and at some point took to working directly with Doctor Jimenez. Henceforth, he seems to be known strictly as 'Ruvik' as opposed to Ruben.
Ruvik continued his experiments on the human psyche and mind for a great while until coming into conflict with his long-term partner, Jimenez, for the latter having published Ruvik's experiments and findings under his own name. The doctor refuted Ruvik's anger over the matter, revealing that Ruvik, though brilliant, was never formally trained and thus would be unable to ever publish material under his own name. Their relationship becoming more and more strained, Ruvik is eventually betrayed by Doctor Jimenez upon the near completion of their primary project, STEM. Several men brought in by the doctor corner and restrain Ruvik, forcing him to become the primary test subject for the STEM-- a project meant to unite minds, feelings, consciousness, and so on into one, felt and experienced by all those linked to the machine. Ruvik's brain was manipulated, probed, and sampled in the same ways he had done to his prior test subjects. His body was then disassembled until nothing but his still-living brain was left, which was then sealed in a container. Recordings made by Ruvik--presumably after this betrayal and the events thereafter-- indicate that he suspected Jimenez of planning this betrayal for a good while, as without Jimenez's help, the agents would never have been able to survive Ruvik's various traps.
In his mental scape, Ruvik contemplated and searched for a means to escape his imprisonment, eventually finding that the Beacon Mental Hospital patient, and Doctor Jimenez's own patient, Leslie Withers, would somehow be the means to return to the physical world. Records and notes left behind by Ruvik indicate that he was perhaps searching for a brain that he could transfer his consciousness into via the STEM. Notes from staff at the hospital involved in the STEM project find that those involved with the project--ranging from patients to those working the machine--eventually slip into a coma, and those who attempt to flee find themselves unable to do so.
Eventually, though it is never quite shown how, Ruvik managed to manifest himself at Beacon Mental Hospital and massacred those within, including police called on scene, as he searched for Leslie. It is this incident that brings Detective Castellanos and his partners to the scene.
The Evil Within
After ambushing Sebastian and several others, he brings them into his own mindscape through the STEM somehow, with the world and all its terrors that Sebastian is forced to face all a manifestation of Ruvik's own tormented psyche. Though interfering little with Sebastian's progress early on, later chapters find Ruvik making direct contact with the detective, hunting him through the memory of his family's manor. It is here that Ruvik hints that through his connections with Joseph Oda and Sebastian's own mind that he knows full well of Sebastian's own past and motivations. Remarking that it is unfortunate that Sebastian was involved, he nevertheless states his intentions to make use of the detective for his own means.
As Sebastian progresses, Ruvik begins to make himself more and more known, frequently warning the detective through eerie messages to cease his interference, and his intent to make the man suffer. Sebastian is not the only one to come into odds with Ruvik; though it is never seen, it is hinted that Julie has encountered Ruvik before, and knows more about him than she is willing to say, going so far as to realize Ruvik's plans to use Leslie to escape.
At one point, Sebastian is led to the scene of the murders he had initially seen on the screen prior to being ambushed by Ruvik. He confronts Ruvik but is easily disarmed and held in a choke hold. Using his lantern, he sets Ruvik aflame similar to his initial burning in the barn all those years ago, forcing the man to finally drop him, and revealing his weakness to fire.
Eventually, Sebastian and Leslie find themselves in Ruvik's mental version of the STEM, a huge, pulsating brain connected with a variety of tubes and surrounded by an odd liquid. Despite Sebastian's urging, Leslie approaches Ruvik, and is subsequently turned into the same liquid surrounding the mutated STEM. A horrific, giant monster then emerges, with Ruvik seemingly merged into the forehead of the beast as if acting as its brain, and engages Sebastian in a final fight. Eventually getting impaling on a spike, Sebastian manages to greatly weaken the beast Ruvik had become through a rocket launcher left by a corpse nearby. Ruvik then shifts into the mouth of the creature and attempts to devour Sebastian whole, but a final bullet stops him at last, shoving Sebastian into what appears to be the actual STEM machine room.
Sebastian witnesses one final vision of Ruvik before disconnecting Ruvik's own disembodied brain from the STEM and violently stomping on it with his foot, putting an evident end to his existence. However, as Sebastian awakens and eventually leaves the hospital, he sees what appears to be Leslie walking away in the distance, the boy's usual shuffling gait gone and replaced by slow, ominous pacing. Before Sebastian can react, the world again flickers, and the boy vanishes.
Ruvik first appears in the Assignment when Juli walks down some stairs. He appears in a sealed off room. If you get close enough, he disappears.
Later he appears behind Juli inside the Water Chamber. He tells her that she's expendable, just like he was, and like how Sebastian and Joseph are. He then lifts his hand up to her face and she falls out of the chamber.
She has another brief encounter with him when enters a room with a spike trap. Grey brain waves will move through the room. When she tries to leave, Ruvik appears there standing and facing towards her, if she approaches he'll turn around and a wall will appear. After this Juli has to take another route in order to get back to place she has to go.
There is an unexpected, very short encounter with him, which happens when Leslie and Juli are heading to the church. Leslie starts to point and when Juli approaches him, Ruvik appears and reaches out to grab her. But he disappears and Leslie is standing where he was.
Ruvik finally appears in this DLC at the end, when she and Leslie are in Cedar Hill Church. Leslie will scream "He's here!!" before pointing at him and Juli will turn around and aim her gun at him. She backs away as Ruvik moves towards them. He explains to her, how he will also benefit from her bringing Leslie out of STEM. Ruvik then takes control of Leslie and has him repeat everything he says as well as do what he wants him to do. When Juli tells Ruvik to stop, he makes Leslie choke her. She gets out of his grasp, then Ruvik lies to her and tells her MOBIUS can see what they're doing. She's about to shoot Leslie when both Ruvik and Leslie disappear into black smoke.
Ruvik first appears in the second DLC, when he turns Sebastian into a haunted. Juli almost shoots Seb, but when she sees Ruvik she shoots him instead. When she does, Ruvik teleports away.
Later, there is a scene that was included in the main game but not the DLC, where Juli is driving a school bus, and Ruvik appears standing in the middle of the road. He lifts his hand and causes the bus to lift off the ground and crash into nearby buildings, but that's the second time she sees him.
Then when she gets up after the bus crash, she finds multiple paintings of him. They repeat things that he's already said. And they spread his influence around through floating red droplets. Juli can use fire to burn them and stop him from spreading his influence through the building and try to control Leslie.
After she deals with them, her and Leslie go out into a park. Leslie begins to flash into Ruvik continentally. She tries to shoot him but is stopped by Sebastian.
After that Ruvik is finally seen in the climax, when Leslie approaches Ruvik and Ruvik liquefies him.
A New STEM
MOBIUS took Ruvik's research as well as the knowledge gained from the Beacon incident to refine and build a new version of STEM. Within it, they created a small town called Union. From the incident, they had learned that psychopathic personalities were capable of massive power within STEM, and that Ruvik being at the core lead to it being very unstable. It was because of this that MOBIUS sought after a different kind of core. They also began extensively screening the subjects who volunteered to be placed within Union to prevent another massacre.
The Evil Within 2
Several conversations between Sebastian and Juli Kidman do mention him occasionally, with the latter stating there was no telling what he might have done had Sebastian not stopped him, however his ultimate fate is still unconfirmed.
He makes several non-physical appearances, appearing on the walls as Sebastian's memories of Beacon flash on the wall during the final Anima encounter.
He appears as a shootable target in the gallery mode of the Shooting Gallery, having the ability to teleport to different spots in the gallery.
Though appearing early on as a ghostly image, Ruvik does not become a direct threat until Chapter 9, the Manor. During these encounters, the world will take on a cold blue hue, the music will shift, and Ruvik will appear and walk towards Sebastian, occasionally teleporting around. After reaching the player, Ruvik will extend his arm and cause Sebastian's head to explode, resulting in instant death. Ruvik is immune to all attacks at that time, so the player is forced to flee. Ruvik will disappear if the player breaks the line of sight with him for a while, either by entering a hiding place without Ruvik noticing, or by running away as fast as possible. The latter option is more risky because Ruvik's erratic teleporting can put him right in front of the player's running path.
As a final boss, Ruvik seemingly merges into the skull of a horrific, mutated beast that can easily kill Sebastian with a single swipe of a giant claw. Hunting down the detective, one can only flee until eventually landing on the previously used armored vehicle, in which one must attack specific areas of Ruvik's monstrous body in order to progress and eventually defeat the boss. A well-aimed final bullet puts an end to Ruvik's horror.
A list of victims Ruvik has killed:
- "Laura, of course you couldn't be dead."
- ―A sentence from a note written by Ruvik
Laura was Ruvik's sister and the only person who understood him. They clearly had a very close relationship and cared for each other. After Laura has perished in a fire, Ruvik became depressed and finally snapped. He even went as far as to killing his parents, blaming them for everything that happened to him.
- "I still hear my darling boy's voice."
- ―Beatriz in a written note
Ruvik's relationship with his mother is greatly unexplored. But after her initial claims that she feels that her son is still alive, it can be implied that she cared for him as any mother would for their child. However, after the fire and Ernesto hiding a traumatized and disfigured Ruben Victoriano, Ruvik condemned them both to death.
- "Oh, father, if you only knew how satisfying that look on your face is."
- ―Ruvik to his dead father
Ruvik expressed a deep hatred towards his father and prior the incident, their relationship was described as being quite a strained one. The reasons for this were never explored however according to one of Ruvik's notes, it is implied that this was due to the closeness of his children. Despite this, the young Ruben held high respect towards his father and once thought of him as quite intelligent. After the blaze incident, their relationship was destroyed as Ernesto took to hiding his traumatized son in their family manor basement. They began having more conflicting perceptions, including religion, to which Ruben looked down upon his father for his hefty donations to the church despite the scandals in the media. Eventually, Ruben grew to deeply loathe his own father, resulting in him murdering both his parents in their bedroom.
- "How dare you come into my house and threaten me."
- ―Ruvik to Jimenez
Ruvik and Dr. Jimenez have known each other for many years. They first met, when Ruvik was still a child. Jimenez wanted Ruvik to share his research with him. After that Jimenez considered Ruvik an apprentice, however Ruvik never thought of them that close. Jimenez provided Ruvik with equipment and test subjects in Ruvik's late teen years after the fire. This was around the time when Ruvik started creating STEM.