The Evil Within is returning balance to survival horror - preview

by Ben Salter 8 Comments 18 Likes 3,676 Views 03/06/2013 Back to Xbox One previews The Evil Within

Praise Lord Shinji Mikami, the father and now saviour of survival horror.

Following Resident Evil’s disastrous plunge into the action-sometimes-horror genre, its creator has risen to bring balance to survival and horror. I could feed you a half-baked line about “what Resident Evil 5 should have been” but that would be rash after a 30 minute developer demonstration of The Evil Within.

What I will tell you is even as a spectator, I was anxious as protagonist Detective Sebastian Castellanos rounded a corner and disappeared into the dark void of the unknown.

Lead producer Masato Kimura walked us through two contrasting sections, demonstrating both horror and survival-action in their rawest forms. The first revolved around pure fear: rescuing himself from the dwellings of a mental hospital turned slaughter house, Castellanos had to flee without means to protect his ravished body from a rampaging crazed butcher. All to the soundtrack of a funeral home’s waiting music and the rattlings of a poorly maintained chainsaw’s metal teeth gouging through decrepit steel lockers and empty shipping crates.

Even as a spectator, I was anxious as protagonist Detective Sebastian Castellanos rounded a corner and disappeared into the dark void of the unknown.

If that wasn’t terrifying enough, Castellanos breaks his leg in a daring escape that would normally signify refuge through a cut-scene or end of the mission — not so in The Evil Within. That was only the beginning of Seb’s blight. Our hapless hero had to combat a psychopathic brute while managing a vulnerable limp.

”Since Shinji Mikami defined the genre, it’s been a long time,” Kimura told us. “The definition of the genre has broadened, widened and has evolved a lot.”

It was a polite way of saying business-minded imbeciles have shifted the genre too far towards action in search of a professedly lucrative mainstream audience; while the original fanbase lost interest. Developer Tango Gameworks wants to amend the imbalance by reviving the horror. True horror. Albeit hesitant to make any direct comparisons to Resident Evil 4, Kimura admitted The Evil Within shares common elements but is geared more towards horror than the once GameCube exclusive.

The second section of The Evil Within unveiled to us resonated with the over-the-shoulder action of RE4, only with an added emphasis on scares and a sizable dose of insanity.

After fending off undead beasts — covered in protruding knives — lumbering through cabin windows using a scarce supply of ammunition and trip mines, Castellanos stumbled down a flight of stairs into what can only be described as a Stanley Kubrick hallway (now I have that freaky kid repeating “Red Rum” stuck in my head) infused with Eternal Darkness.

As he approached a door at the end of the passage, a distorting shimmer rained upon the tight corridor and spawned a sprawling hallway, pushing the door several feet away. As he approached again, a sea of discoloured blood came flooding at Sebastian with nowhere to run; but moments before he was to become devoured by its gushing force, it vanished as quickly as it had appeared, replacing the door with a bright light shinning through a small opening as a tormenting lure.

What the hell, man!

Edging closer to what is going to spell certain death for somebody, Sebastian stumbles upon a curious body bag. As he jaunts too near, it explodes like a mutating cell into tens, possibly hundreds, of body bags, and is engulfed by the unwavering light. There’s no turning back.

After 25 minutes it came as a massive shock. We’d seen genuine horror, survivalist action and a handful of enemies that had yet to really reveal themselves, yet did enough to inspire an inborn urge to turn on the lights. But I didn’t foresee this deranged bewilderment.

Let’s backtrack to the eerily creepy cabin, where the graphics were grimily detailed and combat was rigid. Up until the last moment in combat, I assumed Sebastian couldn’t move while he aimed, but it was the Tango developer’s play style as he eventually inched backwards, trying to evade an incoming threat while maintaining composure — the thoughtful movement invoked the classic Resident Evil fight or flight mentality with a modern embellishment allowing limited access to both at a cost, should you really need it.

The Evil Within has rekindled my passion for a quality survival horror experience.

We saw it running on PC, and The Evil Within is yet another game caught in this 2014 “cross-gen” upheaval on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 running on a modified idTech 5 engine.

If you haven’t taken the hint, Resident Evil 4 is my favourite survival horror game of all time; hell, it’s one of the reasons I started to feel passionate about videogames. It was the only poster that stayed on my teenage bedroom wall as the years passed, and I saved all my Year 8 pocket money just to scrounge enough to see tidbits in Hyper magazine's preview, even though I had already read it all standing in the local newsagent defying dirty glares from the owner.

Nothing in the genre has engrossed me since. Everything, bar a few indie highlights, has inundated me with unwanted boring action. Over the past five years I’ve almost quit playing anything with “survival” or “horror” in its marketing pitch in fear of being underwhelmed by generic trash in search of a dollar, not a delightfully terrified fan.

The Evil Within has rekindled my passion for a quality survival horror experience.

From what I’ve seen, knowing that The Evil Within is the brainchild of a man who has given more to the survival horror genre than anyone else, and having it all bankrolled by Bethesda, a publisher renowned for making the right decisions of late, I don’t know how I’m going to survive another year as the pencilled-in release slowly creeps up on us. I want to see more now!

MMGN attended a preview event for The Evil Within in Los Angeles as a guest of Bethesda.

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The Evil Within is returning balance to survival horror - preview Comments

  • GunSlinger 7166 XP 03/06/2013
    Now that I've read this...
    I NEED THIS SO BAD! [MOG] [Derp]
  • gammaray13 7379 XP 03/06/2013
    great read indeed, this sound like the good old days of horror are returning =)
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  • renagadez 85648 XP 03/06/2013
    lol damn, hoping to see some actual gameplay.
  • 1wiierdguy 7990 XP 03/06/2013
    I'm excited for this, I love me some survival horror. :)
  • Cade606 344 XP 03/06/2013
    until i see gameplay im going to be skeptical but hoping
  • Olly 32485 XP 04/06/2013
    Resident Evil 4 was survival horror [MOG]

    Favourite survival horror game?! really? after that i'm not convinced by this article at all lol will wait and see if its any good.
  • Ghosty 1198 XP 04/06/2013
    Intrigued [Derp]
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