Warning: This article contains potentially disturbing and graphic screenshots from The Evil Within

 

The release of The Evil Within, the upcoming survival horror video game from Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, has been pushed back from August to October 21st — just in time for Halloween. At a recent press event for the game I had a chance to go hands-on with the title, and from what I’ve seen so far, The Evil Within could very well be worth the wait.

Over the course of an hour and a half I made my way through portions of two different levels. I explored industrial environments, a creepy village, and a large mansion. I played the game on a PC, in a dark, curtained booth — all in all a fantastic environment for experiencing a survival horror game. I found the game to be tense, disturbing, and frequently disgusting…in a good way.

evil within asylum

Fighting The Haunted

The most common enemies that populate The Evil Within are referred to as “The Haunted.” They behave a lot like the “zombie” enemies in The Last of Us, patrolling certain areas and needing to be either evaded, stealth-killed, or confronted directly. Because these foes are supernatural in nature, though, typical zombie rules don’t necessarily apply — which means that just because a room was empty the last time you passed through it doesn’t mean it will be empty this time. The Haunted will occasionally make frightening vocal sounds that can alert you to their presence — which means you might have a moment to get ready before one of them comes crashing through a door.

In an interesting twist, The Haunted don’t necessarily stay dead once you’ve taken them down. Though it wasn’t something I experienced in my hour and a half with a game — and I was playing on the easiest difficulty, which may have factored into it — I was given an on-screen warning that it was necessary to burn The Haunted to make sure they stayed dead. Matches, therefore, are an important resource that must be carefully managed.

evil within hatchet

Unless you have one of the game’s rare and limited-use melee weapons, hand-to-hand combat against The Haunted only pushes them back and gives you some breathing room, rather than actually dispatching them. To take them out you’ll need to use bullets — which are always in short supply, of course  – or take advantage of the traps and hazards in the world around you. Every fight is given added drama and urgency by the fact that switching from one weapon or item to another involves opening an on-screen menu that slows down — but doesn’t entirely stop — the action around you.

In one section of the game I played, attempting to open a door summoned about ten Haunted enemies at once. I killed a few with my gun, then took off running before I could be cornered. I crept past a motion-sensing bomb that blew up a few more enemies as they followed me, and then finally ran up a flight of stairs, waited until the last few Haunted were bunched up, and then fired a bullet into a tank of gas, setting them all ablaze. If the rest of the game takes advantage of this same kind of tense, improvisational combat, The Evil Within could be a blast to play.

online_village_escort

Creeping Madness

In the first level I played, I escorted a doctor through a sinister, fog-shrouded village in search of one of his patients, a young man named Leslie. Along the way we encountered one of the doctor’s former colleagues — now obviously possessed, insane, undead, or some combination of the three — before finding Leslie and then being attacked by a hooded figure known as Ruvik, who looks to be the game’s primary antagonist. The appearance of Ruvik is always a cause for alarm, as he can’t be killed, and will hunt you down until he either catches you — at which point you will take massive amounts of damage — or you manage to escape. While I explored  the mansion in the second section of the game I got to play, Ruvik seemed to appear in certain places on a trigger and in others as a random encounter, but every time it was a shock that made me jump and had me scrambling for the nearest exit.

Disease and madness seem to be two of the main themes explored in The Evil Within, and they are done so with an intense effectiveness that should be much appreciated by horror fans. In the course of my hour and a half with the title, I witnessed a man scratching the skin off his face, ghostly apparitions that made me question my character’s sanity, and a river of blood that chased my character down a hallway. I ran away from a terrifying monster made up of a collection of claws and twisted limbs…right into a bomb I had neglected to disarm. I got some insight into the background of both the Doctor I had earlier been escorting and Leslie himself, neither of whom were as honorable as I had assumed. Oh — and I also performed brain surgery on severed heads that were were somehow still alive.

So, you know…just a typical day, really.

evil within brain

The Evil Within got my heart pounding

While exploring a hallway, a snare grabs your ankle and begins pulling you towards certain death. You have to react quickly to stay alive. I died repeatedly and gruesomely.

The best comparisons for The Evil Within are The Last of Us, which was the last great survival horror game on the market, and Resident Evil 4, which was the last great installment of that classic series. From what I’ve seen, The Evil Within looks to be much more similar in terms of pacing, tension, and combat mechanics to the former title, though its unlikely it will reach any of the same heights in terms of human drama that The Last of Us did. The story seems to be close to the classic Resident Evil formula, with a mixture of supernatural and scientific elements, iconic enemies and set-pieces, and a plot that is disturbing even though it might not entirely make sense.

evil within heart rate

I’ve personally always found Resident Evil games to have story elements that I can only assume are clear in the game’s original Japanese, but which lose a bit of clarity – though not effectiveness — in translation, and I’d wager that The Evil Within won’t stray too far from this style. In practice, it doesn’t really matter too much WHY a snare is dragging you by your ankle towards a giant meat grinder…all that matters is whether you can react quickly enough to save yourself from death.

When my time with The Evil Within was up, I stumbled out into the light, frankly a bit relieved for a break from the tension. It’s too early to say how effective the game as a whole will be, but it was undeniable that what I played was frightening. In fact, I have photographic proof of it. I was wearing a Gear Fit when I played, and had it record my heart rate right after I left the demo. My normal resting heart rate is 75 beats per minute…and after an hour and a half with The Evil Within, it was 117. 

You’ll be able to grab The Evil Within for yourself on October 21st…if you think your heart can take it.

 

 

The Evil Within PC

Platform: PC
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  • Raylan S. Kennedy

    Espero muito por esse game, e que ele possa chegar dublado com português (Brasil)

  • hahaha

    espero que shinji mikami não nos decepicione :)

  • Kabuto

    Mikami nunca nos decepcionou! O que fizeram com Resident depois dele que sim!