The Evil Within E3 2013 Preview: A Terrifying Return To Classic Survival Horror

by Mike Bendel on June 14, 2013 @ 3:06 am

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Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within was one of the most dark and disturbing titles on showcase at E3 this year. The game is billed as a return to pure survival horror, and early impressions of a hands-off demonstration indicate it could well deliver in that regard. Unlike other entries that continue to stray from their roots (ahem, Resident Evil), The Evil Within is poised to deliver great gameplay without compromising on the horror aspect. What really struck me is how the game manages to convey fear, as well as pain and suffering. Throughout the demo, it became apparent to me that the team behind it has set out to create a love letter for survival horror. Additionally, during the presentation at E3 Mikami mentioned the game will do away with annoying QTEs, which is something I’m sure many can rejoice over.

The demo starts off as a routine crime investigation, detectives are called in to investigate a series of murders at Beacon Mental Hospital. Things quickly go south when Sebastian Castellanos – the character players assume the role of, suddenly gets stabbed by a shadowy figure while combing around the asylum’s camera room.

Castellanos later wakes up tied up in a chamber surrounded by dead bodies hanging from the ceiling. A hulking masked man armed with a giant blade is heard dismembering one of the bodies to the left of the screen. As you can imagine, the sounds are appropriately disgusting. Castellanos manages to free himself by lunging for conveniently placed knife. Meanwhile, the aforementioned figure is carrying half a human torso towards what appeared to be a waste deposit or some sort of meat grinder.

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It’s not long before the masked butcher catches on to the escape attempt and starts running after Castellanos down tight corridors. Combined with the eerie sound effects it all felt very claustrophobic. The level design is reminiscent of earlier Resident Evil titles – particularly 2 and 3, which not surprisingly were produced by Mikami himself. In fact, the entire scene brought back memories of the Nemesis in Resident Evil 3. It’s clear there was a considerable amount influence from those titles, but the differentiating factor is that The Evil Within is a much more modern take in terms of gameplay.

The pacing seemed to flow extremely well, a constant tension was felt during the chase. Later on in the demo we saw some stealth tactics employed as Castellanos arrived to a room with branching paths, providing opportunities to evade and hide. The developer walking us through the demo slipped up at one point here and so we had a chance to witness the death animation, which was quite gruesome.

After nimbly escaping the masked butcher (with a chainsaw to the leg, no less), we then cut to a later segment in the game which consisted of a swarm of zombies forcing their way into a house. Players of Resident Evil 4 and onward may find the approach to combat familiar, what with the over the shoulder camera perspective. The dev handling the demo set some proximity explosives underneath the base of the windows in this scene which exploded as zombies neared the safe house.

Beyond zombies, a rather disturbing spider-like creature fused out of dead body parts was shown in the last part of the demo.

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Powered by the id Tech 5 engine used by RAGE, The Evil Within looks great, you can tell the artists spent a great deal of attention to capturing the intended mood of each scene. Additionally, the UI for the most part stays out of the way, providing complete immersion. Survival horror fans should take note of The Evil Within, it’s shaping up to be one of the most satisfying entries in the genre to date.

The Evil Within is due out on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in 2014.

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Comments
NeilR says:

I saw the developer demo video a few days back and thought it looked like it was going to be good; I'm glad your first person impressions match up. I'm looking forward to this one.

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