The Evil Within Rebirths The World of Survival Horror
If you’ve been keeping up with the gaming scene, you might be aware of the new survival horror video game from Tango Gameworks and Bethesda Softworks. The new title is the new brainchild of game director Shinji Mikami, creator of the Resident Evil series. The latter series is experiencing a bit of a decline at the moment and has seen better days. However, it appears that Mikami has given the world of survival horror another shot in the arm with the upcoming dark, macabre title The Evil Within. For fans like me, who loved the aesthetic of Resident Evil 4 and the way that game both reinvigorated and redefined the genre, The Evil Within could be right up your alley.
Here’s what we know so far. In previous previews and the first look gameplay video released at last year’s E3, the game’s protagonist, Sebastian Castellanos, is a detective. Sebastian and his colleagues are called to a crime scene at a mental hospital. Since nothing good ever happens at a mental hospital, Castellanos is attacked by a shrouded assailant. He awakens, hanging upside down by a chain, in a disgusting human butcher room with a chainsaw-wielding maniac, dubbed The Butcher in this game. Sebastian barely escapes The Butcher and his death traps, and escapes outside the hospital–only to discover the apocalypse has seemingly struck the outside world. Sebastian now finds himself in a deranged world of terror and monsters that is constantly changing and warping around him.
For E3 2014, Bethesda Softworks provides two gameplay levels to play. One, from earlier in the game, and another that takes place later. In the first gameplay level sequence, there is a quick tutorial on the game’s controls and some techniques. Up to that point, there’s a brief blow-through of the plot. Details are scarce. Somehow, Sebastian was able to find a doctor from the mental hospital. The duo acquires an ambulance and is stuck in the countryside. The demo begins outside a remote, dark, and horrific village. Remember the town square of the Ganado village in Resident Evil 4? Well, imagine that, but about 100 times scarier. The main enemies of this game, referred to as “The Haunted,” are quite similar to the zombies and Ganado of the Resident Evil franchise. In the middle of the village, The Haunted appear to be creating a bonfire made of dead bodies. The doctor, who seems somewhat crazy himself, guides you to a hostel that apparently belongs to his brother. One of the Haunted throws what appears to be an innocent victim onto a spike in the bonfire. After you find the doctor’s brother, he has apparently gone insane and mutilated himself. After getting rid of the doctor’s brother, you dissect the cadaver he was working on to get some keys. You traverse through the hostel and can locate some helpful items, while also dispatching some enemies. In terms of weapons for the demo, you have a pistol, a shotgun, and a crossbow. The crossbow shoots specialized, custom bolts and is a heavier weapon, but it is preferred as a last-ditch weapon. You also have matches, which you need to burn The Haunted, even after you seemingly “kill” them–because they can still revive. Weapons, ammunition, and matches are scarce, so it’s best to use them sparingly. One trick I found is that you can line up some of your Haunted kills and burn two with one match.
Later in the level, Sebastian and the doctor find a disturbed young boy named Leslie, a supposed patient from the mental hospital. Sebastian investigates more deeply into the building, and suddenly the scene changes to a more industrial type of warehouse. The change is sparked by putting Sebastian in a corridor before he’s engulfed in a wave of blood. When Sebastian regains consciousness, the area has changed. The setting of the game is abstract, nightmarish, and surreal. You are never quite sure if what you are seeing is real or if this is all in Sebastian’s head, though I’m leaning toward the latter. One wonders if Sebastian is losing his mind or his grip on reality, or something far more sinister. I also wonder if perhaps Sebastian is an unreliable protagonist, and the one who is truly the cause of this devilry. Sebastian encounters some more death traps and Haunted before facing RE-Bone Laura (the spider-lady type of creature), whom we have seen in the trailers and some of the early gameplay videos. RE-Bone Laura is incredibly hard to kill, but not impossible. In this sequence you have to outrun her and survive as best you can. Sebastian can run, but you have to pace your runs or his stamina meter will run out. After escaping RE-Bone Laura, you are again pursued by the shrouded figure. This is Ruvik, apparently the game’s main villain.