While later survival horror games have often gone easier on the player, tempering tense moments with calm periods and cathartic shoot-outs, The Evil Within can be flat-out sadistic in the way it piles on the stress. At times it’s impossible not to imagine Shinji Mikami sitting in a grimy, steam-gushing control room behind the scenes, pulling infernal levers and smashing bloodied buttons with a hideous cackle, like some nightmarishly brain-wronged Wizard of Oz.
Example: It’s near the beginning of the game. You’ve just escaped the meat-hook you’ve been unconsciously dangling from, snuck around the hulking Chainsaw Guy in order to snag the key to the door, and now you’re away. But oh no, you’ve tripped the alarm, and now Chainsaw Guy is right behind you. Oh dear, there’s nowhere to go except along this infeasibly long, narrow corridor. Oh crap, now he’s nicked your leg and you’re limping. Bloody hell, this corridor is long, isn’t it? But look, a door! Surely there’s salvation through there! Oh no. No, there’s no salvation. There are just huge spinning, wall-mounted blades, moving steadily in towards the centre of the room. For no good reason whatsoever. And you’re still limping. Why, Shinji, why!?