Games continually attempt to capture the success of the classic survival horror titles like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. But newer games like Dead Space and later iterations of the Resident Evil franchise have taken a more action oriented turn and ruin the survival horror genre in a lot of gamers’ minds. We’ve already talked about how impressed we were with the indie title Outlast completely removing offensive actions and bringing back the genre, but there was another game vying for the survival horror limelight at E3 this year.
The Evil Within is a title from Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil, and I was privileged enough to have him present the closed door hands-off gameplay demo. First the audience was introduced to the protagonist, the man we’d be on this ride through hell with, Sebastian (no, not the Seb of Daily Reaction and Bad Gamers fame). And what’s survival horror without a mental asylum, which is exactly where Sebastian is headed into?
Inside the asylum we’re treated to a grim scene full of bodies everywhere. If this is just the foyer of the asylum, what terrors do the depths of these halls hold? Making his way to the security monitors, Sebastian sees a terrifying apparition brutally slit the throats of three policemen elsewhere in the asylum and then vanish. Turning around of course reveals the apparition to be right behind our hero, and the screen goes black.
The Evil Within holds a methodical terror. Scenes play out over a course of time just long enough that causes the tension to rise. In the next segment, Sebastian wakes up hanging upside down among a myriad of human corpses that are hanging around him. The classical music playing is unsettling and begins to affect the mind as it doesn’t match the gruesomeness that surrounds. A large beast of a man(?) is in the same room carving chunks of meat out of the corpses. Swinging Sebastian far enough to grab the knife protruding from the body next to him seems to take ages and I was convinced that Sebastian would be seen.
Fortunately, he is not seen and manages to narrowly escape through a tense moment of sneaking around, avoiding his jailer and grabbing the keys to the door. Stress levels run high as narrow escapes seem to be the name of the game. Well, ok, the name of the game is The Evil Within, but you get my point. Just as we start to unwind the stress from escaping, another survival horror staple can be heard: The chainsaw. The jailer is not happy with Sebastian’s prison break and seeks to carve him up nicely.
After yet another narrow escape that leaves Sebastian’s leg injured, the player now needs to hobble away with his limp. If you were wondering, yes, this is all done via gameplay, meaning players will be aggravatedly shouting at the screen as the injured protagonist doesn’t seem to move fast enough to actually live through this tense moment. More tension through methodical terror, close calls hiding in lockers and narrowly escaping rooms that have become meat grinders.
The next segment of gameplay showed off the combat mechanics. Enemies appear to be very difficult to kill and ammo is extremely limited. Stealth and the use of traps seems like it will be the most effective method for dispatching the terrors that swarm the game. One interesting move showed Sebastian shooting the leg of a zombie-like creature. After he fell to the ground, he used his lighter to ignite the corpse and defeat the enemy.
Psychological terror is present here too. This isn’t just about taking down or escaping physical creatures. Sebastian seems to be going through some serious dementia and mental issues. One scene had him running down an endless hallway that is suddenly flooded with blood. Another shows him exit the asylum to a completely destroyed post-apocalyptic courtyard, the same area that had been whole during the beginning of the gameplay demonstration. Mikami and the team are keeping tight lipped on any story details, so it looks like we’ll have to wait to find out more about these odd phenomena.
From my preview, The Evil Within looks to be pleasant mixture of the combat found in games like the early Resident Evils with the psychological terror present in games like Silent Hill. There is a chance that this could fail and that the terror could just end up being campy close calls and over the top psychological gore, however I see a gem within this game. If polished to a perfect shine, it could be an amazing revival of big budget survival horror games, utilizing a moderate amount of combat that works in conjunction with the psychological scares, rather than cancelling them out. Given that Mikami’s last game was the wonderful Resident Evil 4, I’m betting my chips on this being a great game.
The Evil Within is coming to both current gen and next gen consoles in 2014. Stay tuned to PlayStation LifeStyle for more information as we find out about more leading up to release.