- "You'll...protect me?"
- ―Leslie to Kidman
Leslie Withers is a supporting and plot-crucial character of The Evil Within, The Assignment and The Consequence. He is a mentally-impaired patient under the care of doctor Marcelo Jimenez, and a subject in the STEM program.
Leslie had a normal childhood, and was raised like any other child until one day, his family was murdered right in front of him which "broke" something in the boy's mind and sent him into a state of catatonic delirium. Leslie seems to live in denial about what happened to his family, and dreams of the day when he will be reunited with them, thinking he'll take a train ride home.
As a patient of Beacon Mental Hospital, Leslie underwent "treatments" which included ongoing experimentation. These experiments have left him extremely mistrustful of people.
Leslie has pale skin and white hair, and dark rings around his eyes, a possible result of extreme sleep deprivation, or insomnia. Another likely cause could be albinism, as his eyes have a faint pinkish hue to them. One of his front teeth has a large chip in it, while the rest of the set is poorly-maintained and seems to be mildly rotten.
He is almost always seen wearing a straightjacket owing to him being a mental patient. He is initially bound, though the sleeves came undone at the start of Chapter 3, after the ambulance crash.
He usually stands either hunched over or very upright, looking at the floor, with his hands either close together or over his ears.
Leslie is mostly seen as very frightened and easily overwhelmed by his surroundings, and is prone to fits of hysteria when presented with a trigger, be it visual or audio. He has a tendency to repeat the last few words said by whoever may be around him, and seems to be very confused, if not detached from his surroundings, probably living in his own world.
Despite his unstable mentality, Leslie is almost child-like, and is quick to develop a sense of trust in those who are kind to and protective of him, "people" here being chiefly Juli Kidman and Sebastian Castellanos, often hiding behind them and will help them when needed.
Leslie seems to be aware of and largely fearful of Ruvik, panicking when he is near. He views Ruvik as a hostile entity, as seen when he uses Kidman's handgun to shoot at Ruvik's manifestation in The Consequence. Despite this, he is seemingly conditioned to head towards the "source" at all costs, whether he realises it or not, and breaks down more and more the closer he is to Ruvik, and exhibits increasingly bizarre behavior by the time he reaches Beacon.
According to Ruvik's assessment, Leslie was noted to have psychological developmental delays and issues with communication, social cognition, and repetitive behaviors. These mannerisms and traits are in line with those of autism or Asperger's Syndrome. Further testing also reveal signs of Synesthesia, and increased susceptibility to external stimuli and pattern adaptiveness that were passed down through his family genes.
Leslie displays signs of traumatic mental scarring and possibly anxiety disorder, often wandering around mumbling to himself and affording little attention to those around him, though with some persuasion he could learn to trust those who seem like parental figures, like Juli or Sebastian. Leslie has always compensated for his communication difficulty by unconsciously emulating the thoughts of others.
With the correct stimulation, however, Leslie would be instantly and painfully debilitated, unable to do anything while reduced to a screaming fit of agony. In these instances, there is usually a presence of Ruvik nearby that can be destroyed to calm him down, though not always the case. Despite this, however, Leslie seems "programmed" to involuntarily head towards Beacon Mental Hospital and by extension, Ruvik himself.
While it is known that his mental disorders are hereditary and that he was driven to an highly unsound state after witnessing the murder of his family, it is unknown if he was like his in-game disposition in the first place, or if his mentality was further harmed by the experiments done to him. Considering the nature of Ruvik's STEM, and the fact that a more lucid version of him can be heard talking in one flashback, the latter case seems to be more believable.
Incidentally, the more exasperated his mentality is, the more high-pitched his voice becomes, as his past self sounded much closer to his age.
The Evil Within
Leslie is first seen sitting in the back of an ambulance with Dr. Jimenez and Juli Kidman, panicking at the bumpy ride and Dr. Jimenez is trying to comfort him. He seems to know that they are going to drive over a cliff and when they crash, he and the others are scattered.
Throughout most of the game, Leslie is only seen for a few seconds to a few minutes at a time after being found by either Sebastian, Kidman, or Dr. Jimenez before getting scared and running off again, though how he manages to survive on his own, unarmed, is unknown. Although, the fact that he may have been guided by Ruvik is possible.
There is also a short scene where Joseph and Sebastian see Kidman leading Leslie into Cedar Hill Church.
At one point, Sebastian is locked in a room after becoming infected and attacking Kidman. About a few seconds after she leaves, Leslie is heard repeating "Get it open" over and over again as he tries to get the door to Sebastian's prison open. As soon as it's open far enough, Leslie then starts to yell for help and takes off again apparently knowing that enemies are near.
Dr. Jimenez is the one to mention Leslie's special connection to Ruvik, that he is the only one to survive being linked to him, so Dr. Jimenez attempts to use him to find their way back (which seems to cause Leslie extreme pain), only for it to fail, but getting the attention of Ruvik, who sends his Amalgam Alpha monster after Leslie, killing Dr. Jiminez in the process. Leslie and Sebastian are separated once more because of the beast.
Leslie is later seen with Kidman, who, knowing that Ruvik is after him, promptly tries to shoot him, and by that destroying Ruvik itself, only to be confronted by Sebastian who defends Leslie. Kidman takes a shot trying to shoot Leslie but accidentally hits Joseph.
Leslie is again seen attempting to lead Sebastian somewhere but is once again separated from him by Ruvik, then reunited with Sebastian in the STEM machine room they are all being kept in, as he is running away from Kidman. Kidman tries to reason with Sebastian, but Sebastian disagrees that Leslie should die when their predicament is Ruvik's doing. Ruvik intervenes and Leslie gives in to his influence, allowing him to liquidate and absorb the boy's mentality into that of his own. Leslie's psychological self presumably ceases to exist in the real world after this point.
Leslie is last seen by Sebastian outside of STEM, walking away upright instead of his normally hunched gait. Sebastian gets another headache from what seems to be the same kind of signal he's been hearing throughout the game and takes his eyes off of Leslie for a moment. When he looks back up, he seems to have disappeared. Though Leslie's fate remains unknown, it is heavily implied that Ruvik has taken possession of his mind as means of escaping STEM.
In the DLC, Kidman is assigned by Mobius to find Leslie and remove him from the system in order to use him as a replacement to Ruvik's brain, as Leslie is tame and easy to manipulate. However, when she realizes that he is the only way for Ruvik to escape from STEM, Kidman attempts to shoot Leslie twice, once at the church and once at the park. At the park, she realizes it's not his fault and that he is innocent and apologizes to him before she is stopped by Sebastian, who is unaware of Ruvik's intentions.
Kidman ultimately fails in her mission to remove Leslie from the system or to kill him to prevent Ruvik escaping.
Leslie looks to Sebastian as being someone he can trust, much like Kidman. In Chapter 15, Leslie hides behind Sebastian for protection from Kidman, who was trying to kill him to prevent Ruvik from escaping. Leslie has been shown to help Sebastian out in certain situations. In Chapter 11, Sebastian is locked in a room by Kidman and Leslie helps Sebastian get out via the other door by pushing the debris that was blocking it.
In Chapter 4, it is revealed that Valerio was Leslie's first doctor in the Hospice. Not much is known about their relationship, or how Valerio took care of Leslie. It's theorized that Valerio might be partially responsible for Leslie's bad appearance, but it is still unconfirmed if this is true or not.
Marcelo Jimenez was Leslie's second doctor. He took over the responsibility of taking care of Leslie at an unknown point in time. Leslie seems distrustful of him, although it's clear he has some form of attatchment to him, given he doesn't have much other human contact. He is sometimes seen panicking when he is near, and prefers the company of Sebastian over his. Marcelo is not above using Leslie to prevent Ruvik from escaping (which he ultimately fails at)
Ruvik seems to share some sort of twisted empathy with Leslie, due to them both having been damaged by the loss of loved ones. While Leslie clearly fears him due to his imposing powers and demeanor, Ruvik doesn't seem to actively want to harm him, due to the compatibility of their minds, and seemingly "programs" him to actively seek him out instead for their merging.
Because of this, none of the monsters encountered will hurt Leslie in any way, or even acknowledge his presence as in the case of The Haunted.
- Leslie was originally supposed to be 15 before the design team tacked on 10 more years. Due to some lapse in communication among the concept artists, his character designer visualised his looks based on this supposed age instead of how he was intended to be.
- As a side effect of this miscommunication, Ikumi Nakamura struggled to visualise an appearance and clothing appropriate to Leslie's background, before finally settling on a mental patient look. She seems to have a low opinion of this final iteration, which was not helped by his lack of a consistent personality courtesy of the design team, as noted in the official characters artbook.
|The Evil Within|
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