If The Evil Within represents - in part, at least - a gigantic, big-budget callback to Shinji Mikami's past, its DLC is reminiscent of the 'B' scenario you'd find in Resident Evil 2 after beating the main game. Rather than chucking out any old nonsense and hoping for the best, Tango Gameworks has used The Consequence to deepen its parent game, weaving in and out and providing more backstory and insight on all the game's major players.
Carrying straight on from the first DLC, The Assignment, players are again tasked with guiding Krimson City Police officer Juli Kidman out of the STEM system which holds her (and her mind) prisoner. Imagine Silent Hill meets The Matrix and you're there, with Kidman attempting to balance her loyalties to fellow officers against carrying out a mission for her bosses at the nefarious Mobius, run by The Cigarette Smoking Man, or his nephew at least.
Like its immediate predecessor, The Consequence favours stealth over action. For a large portion of its running time, you won't even have a firearm. It's a relatively risky approach, given how frustrating The Evil Within's stealth systems can be. Overall player weakness (two hits is often enough to kill), hypersensitive AI, and an inability to sprint for longer than about three seconds without having to stop and catch your breath - you literally keel over - mean that when you do get seen, it's often easier to die and restart than try to run and hide.
It's a problem mitigated, in large part, by Tango choosing to focus on atmosphere more than anything else. During the roughly two-and-a-half hour experience, enemy encounters are infrequent and manageable. Instead of the constant ammo-counting dread of the main game, The Consequence gets to build on what The Evil Within does best: twisting its environments to fit the fears of both Kidman and the person playing as her. There's exposition, sure, but for the most part you're feeling the same as your avatar: what the fuck is going on here, and how do I get out of this thing?
It works, and is the foundation of The Consequence's best asset: its sense of rhythm, a dreamlike ease in which you navigate a nightmarish world, even as it shifts, ever more grotesquely, around the player. There's less emphasis on outright panic here than in the main game, as befits its tension-building aims. Instead, Tango picks its moments well, using the game's lighting engine to craft excellent jump scares (one where you're being chased by a boss through a torture chamber in particular). There's also clever reuse of stages from Sebastian's campaign, with the game playing your knowledge of the various tricks and traps off against you.
Elsewhere, Tango wisely opts to keep changing things up: at one point you'll lose your torch, and have to rely on tossed chemical lights: in another, you'll use flaming planks to burn out pictures of Ruvik, who has gone full Vigo the Carpathian. There's nothing new about these features, but they function well, moving the story along and keeping The Consequence interesting. Progression through stages is in keeping with The Assignment: the odd locked door which needs a handprint to open, or ethereal portals which require a blast of your torch to traverse. There's not a lot getting in the way, in other words, of you stepping into ever-more disturbing locales.
Things weaken considerably when something does get in your way, however, especially when that thing is an eight-foot bipedal lighthouse with a chest cavity that would put that dude in The Thing to shame. A sub-boss carried over from The Assignment, this enemy has the power to both slow you to a crawl when it is looking directly at you, and kill in one hit. Combine this with your dreadful sprint impediment - she stops to catch her breath - and you've got a recipe for outright frustration.
It's the DLC's worst moment, by far, lessened somewhat in its retrospective impact by the satisfying revenge you get to enact later on. Elsewhere, however, The Consequence delivers, both on its own merits and as a complement to The Evil Within. Its conclusion is at least as satisfying as that found in the main game, and probably more so given the revelations it contains. It's also stuffed with exposition for those that want it, in the form of audio tapes. More of the same it may be, but The Consequence is also a tightened, refined version of a game that was already pretty good to begin with.
Version Tested: PS4