Shinji Mikami has had a prosperous career. He’s best known for his work on the Resident Evil franchise, but more recently since he has left Capcom’s grasps, Vanquish. His last horror game, Shadows of the Damned, didn’t pan out exactly as he planned, but he’s looking to put his name back on the map since he joined Bethesda. The Evil Within contains true survival horror mechanics, with monsters filling the world, and no one around to hear your screams. Collect every round and shell you can find, as you’ll need it to survive the dangers that lurk around the corner.
Sebastian Castellanos is the protagonist of the story as he’s dragged through the mud and blood of a nightmare world filled with zombie-like monsters and a ghostly stalker. As an officer of the law, Sebastian is called to a mental hospital after a slaughter ensues, and shortly after is pulled into a devastated world filled with horrors unimaginable to most people. At E3 this year, we were able to get our hands a new demo for the game, showcasing a more traditional means of survival horror, and better understand of what Mikami has in store for the future.
Like what turned Mikami into a video game superstar, this demo was very reminiscent of the first Resident Evil game. Sebastian finds himself outside the gates of a giant mansion, only to witness a suspicious individual go through a heavily locked door. It’s up to the player to go through each section of the mansion, both on the first and second floor, to solve the various puzzles. There’s one puzzle in particular that was grotesque and almost as cringe worthy as Dead Space 2’s eye surgery, just with less consequences to your performance. In this portion, you have to screw in a probe in a specific section of a living brain, and if miss, you’ll be damaged.
The Evil Within is a modern third person shooter with, at least in this demo, a lack of a cover mechanics. Even for a cop, Sebastian has trouble holding his weapon straight as under the pressure and concern of creatures ripping his throat out, his reticule will bob and weave constantly. With that said, this can be a very difficult game if you’re not patient. For one, our hero will rarely obtain ammunition, so he’ll need to use it sparsely. Sometimes it’s best to just run away, especially in the case of Ruvik, a ghostly specter who will randomly appear. This is the antagonist of the game and acts as a being that can’t be harmed or stunned in any way. It doesn’t help that if he touches you, you’ll be reduced to a single grain of health. It’s also something to mention that, like the Crimson zombies in the remake of Resident Evil, Sebastian has to burn the bodies of the dead otherwise they’ll come back, even without heads.
The Evil Within takes the best of the Resident Evil franchise and uses it to its advantage. It has the atmosphere and puzzle solving mechanics that make horror games great, with the controls and excitement that come with more modern third person shooters. Whether you waste bullets or sneak by enemies feasting on a corpse is all determined on your will to survive in this ghastly world. It’s up to the skilled Sebastian Castellanos to unfold this devious story as he trips down the rabbit hole further and further. The Evil Within is a true horror game that has the potential to be something special when it hits October 21.