Slated Release Date: October 21, 2014
Date Played: June 12, 2014
Length played: Approximately 25-30 min.
Platform Played: Xbox One
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Rating: NA (A Mature rating is expected)
I have been a survival horror fan since Resident Evil 2. At the time, I had weaseled my way into convincing my grandma that the zombie killing sequel wasn’t a “bad game” for a kid to own. Yes, I had no conscience as a young lad, however, it opened up a genre and series that propelled my interest in video games, even enough to spend my entire summer saving for a silly SEGA Dreamcast. But I digress.
The Evil Within looks to bring survival horror back to its roots. What are those said roots? Well, for starters, the game is being directed by none other than Shinji Mikami, who was the driving force behind the early games in the RE series. Slower gameplay, not-so-easy to solve puzzles, and of course, being able to scare the jeepers out of you are what makes the genre scary. Many would argue that games like Resident Evil 6 showcase Capcom’s inability to publish a game true to the series, given its focus on action. The Evil Within on the other hand, takes tidbits from both areas while still attempting to scare you.
It’s always about a house.
The playable E3 demo opens up to a dirt pathway with grass brush lining the edges. The only indication as to where we were in the game came from a prompt midway through the demo reading: Chapter 8: The Cruelest Intentions. The player takes on the role of Detective Sebastian Castellanos as he attempts to resolve the mystery surrounding a succession of murders. However, the demo started us presumably after these events, being that we were already entangled in the dark world that is described in the preview summary of the game.
As the scene opens up, we find a wrought iron gate in the distance leading up to a fountain, and what else? Nothing other than a large creepy house that the player is inevitably going to enter. A few items can be picked up outside the house through some mild exploration. This is something that is often found in such games, rewarding the player for investigating their surroundings. Matches and handgun ammo were obtained before it was finally time to explore the ghastly structure.
The usual survival mechanics are present. A syringe restores health, while the scroll wheel opens up to weapons that can be mapped to the D-Pad. Heavier Medkits can also be used for full health recovery, which is in comparison to the herb and health spray used in Resident Evil. However, one thing that I did find refreshing for a game housing an action-oriented slant, was the fact that ammo tended to be limited. Sure, there were instances where it could be picked up room-after-room. But, for the most part, it was scarce. This led to tense moments with enemies, and often checking my supplies, thus tapping into the games’ backbone.
One thing that I must mention is that the house/mansion almost followed the same Resident Evil design in terms of discovery. So, enter house, see big double-door that can’t be unlocked right away, follow other doors downstairs, unlock room above, etc. Before long, you begin to trail off, not necessarily knowing exactly what direction you are heading in or how far off the given path you’ve strayed. Then, you are right back at the downstairs location where you started and one of the locks has come undone from the massive door. All the while, your wits and ability to be startled are tested.
“Men of science are dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge.”–Unknown character in-game.
The controls of the game are fairly standard. The most significant thing you will find is the ability to sneak and hide during certain portions. This ability is done with the (RB) and was only useful to avoid planted enemy proximity bombs. The demo didn’t open up to show where the hide ability would come into play, but that didn’t stop me from climbing into an armoire and having a look around from the inside. This was done similarly to that of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.
There is a sprint that can be done with the (LB) and provided minimal use in the close quarters of the house. The knock back (Y) was used in a few instances, but enemies never really felt overwhelming. Most were avoidable and dropped with shotgun fire. This might explain the absence of a quick or 180-degree turn. There were some instances of exploration where I found that this might have been helpful.
The controller houses the standard aim with (LT) and (RT) to fire. A combat knife was also selectable as a weapon, so Resident Evil fans will find comfort in the ability to down enemies by slashing instead of burning though bullets. Speaking of burning, the ability to light enemies on fire can be done with the (B) button. The significance of this wasn’t explained in the demo; however, there was something about lighting an undead corpse on fire just to be sure. Remember, RULE #2-Always Double Tap.
Is the game scary?
The Survival Horror genre means different things to different people. Much like that of what the general populous refers to as scary movies, the same can be said about the gaming counterpart.There are a lot of things to like already about The Evil Within. Cheap scares can be found throughout each level, along with eerie, dimly lit rooms filled with trailing echoes that will have you looking over your shoulder.
In one instance, an enemy stood waiting behind a tattered bed sheet/linen. I could see the zombie standing, swaying back-and-forth. It didn’t attack or start to move towards me until I started firing off shotgun rounds in its general direction. It then became crazed as it flailed after me with its blade. The close-quarters combat provided a tense experience, and inevitably, left me falling victim the knife wielding attacker. Aside from zombie attackers, there are also plenty of traps to fall victim to.
At one point, I thought I had just unlocked my next pathway by discovering a new room. Instead, a rope noose found its way around my ankle, pulling me towards a pair of spinning bladed grinders. Instead of a quick-time event, in this case, the goal was to shoot the rope and break free. Let’s just say the deaths are equally enjoyable.
It takes a lot for a movie in general to be scary, and for the most part, the expectation for a game to truly provide that experience isn’t fair. There are already new and old school elements that create an early likable experience. I wouldn’t mind even less ammo pickups and the possibility of finding more memoirs littered throughout the house, considering that we’ve come to find experiments on the human brain were going on here. It was similar to the various documents scattered throughout Resident Evil, but only limited to a short passage in the build played.
The Evil Within is being developed by Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda. It is slated for an October 21, 2014 release date on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. The game will also release on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, although it concerns me regarding graphic fidelity.
Shinji Mikami, creator of the Resident Evil series, is directing the project.