Who knows what evil lurks
The Resident Evil and Silent Hill series are often regarded as some of the best horror games ever made. So what would happen when you blend the two franchises' styles together, and sprinkle in some new forms of sheer terror? The Evil Within, from auteur developer Shinji Mikami and his team at Tango Studios, could be a return to the third-person nightmare fuel that shaped a generation of scary games.
But as much as The Evil Within triggers the nostalgia and fear cortexes in our brains, it's also got plenty of unexpected abominations waiting in its myriad dark corners. Want a glimpse at how The Evil Within will fill you with dread? Wondering if Boxman (pictured above) will be the new Pyramid Head? Here's everything you need to know about The Evil Within...
It's the creator of Resident Evil's return to survival horror
In case you dont know Shinji Mikami by name, he was a programmer at Capcom that got his big break directing the original Resident Evil. It popularized the survival horror genre, one defined by running from hideous monsters and slowly collecting the arsenal to take them down. He's also worked on games as random as Dino Crisis and Ace Attorney, but he eventually went on to redefine action-horror games with Resident Evil 4. He left Capcom to work with Platinum Games on Vanquish, and now hes ready to return to the genre that made him famous.
Early screens and details show The Evil Within is about horrifying situations that you barely survive. Rather than a heavily armed supersoldier, you'll be a confused police detective running from monsters that greatly overpower him. The third-person camera is still over the shoulder--a fitting move since Mikamis RE4 popularized the technique--but the focus seems to be more on the environments than creating shooting galleries. Generally, Mikami wants games to be scary again, and hes hoping Evil Within will be the title to do it.
You're playing as Detective Sebastian as he investigates an asylum
The main character of this survival horror nightmare is detective Sebastian Castellanos. He arrives on the scene of a standoff at an asylum, with his partners Joseph and Julie "Kid" Kidman, only to find a bunch of empty police cars and no sign of other officers. Sebastian enters the asylum, stumbling onto multiple homicides before suddenly being knocked unconscious.
Sebastian wakes up alone and strung up in a dark room, seemingly awaiting execution by a monstrous butcher. The asylum has changed a bit, shifted into a much more sinister version of itself, and Sebastian has to escape fast or be ripped apart by his captor. This looks like the start of a very long night.
The monsters are new and familiar
A horror game is only as good as its monsters, and The Evil Within's initial offering of creatures got our attention--in a very gory kind of way. The previously mentioned butcher is a hulking man in an apron that Sebastian has to sneak around. Once hes on to you, you better run, lest his chainsaw separate your head from your neck (perhaps a reference to one of the more graphic deaths in Resident Evil 4).
Later on, youll meet decomposing, zombie-like enemies that attack in groups, and Sebastian has a limited number of bullets to deal with them. Melee attacks with your bare fists will only buy you time, though can pick up hatchets and pipes you find lying around and embed them in the exposed cranium of any attacker.
Puzzles in The Evil Within are not for the weak of stomach
If you can't handle the gorier scenes of films like Saw or The Silence of the Lambs, you simply shouldn't play The Evil Within. That's because puzzles often involve poking around dissected human cadavers, with the camera way zoomed in to show you even more grisly, fleshy detail. No matter how tolerant you are of digital gore, some of these scenarios are undeniably disturbing.
One door puzzle I encountered required us to do some impromptu brain surgery on three human heads. These craniums were completely mutilated, yet the faces continued to twitch and blink due to electric stimuli. Solving these horrific brainteasers involved stabbing each exposed brain with a gigantic needle, in hopes of hitting the right cortex that dictates a given emotion. Another optional side question involved tearing open the stomach of a previously dissected cadaver to retrieve a set of keys. So, yeah--not a game you should buy for your kids.
Sneaking and guns blazing are both viable options
Systematically sneaking around might be slower going, but it's an incredibly efficient way to take out a room of lurching enemies without having to burn your supply of medical syringes. Stealth kills are simple to perform--just creep up behind a ghoul unnoticed (meaning your lantern needs to be unlit), and you'll stab him in the brain for a quick and silent execution.
But tip-toeing through dark shadows can be so darn creepy--luckily, you can shoot up the place instead. Ammo in The Evil Within is scarce, but not to the point that a single missed bullet makes you want to take your own life. As long as you've got good aim and take time to draw a bead on your attacker's noggin, you can shoot your way out of scary situations. But even when you think you've killed these horrors, it's not over. That's because
Fire is the only thing that can put these monsters down for good
Oddly enough, blasting a basketball-sized hole in a zombie's chest is only the first step. Once you've dealt (seemingly) fatal damage, your enemies will fall to the ground--but wait awhile, and they'll start to wriggle around. If you're not careful, they may even spring to undead life and start slashing at your legs. How do you keep this from happening? Light those suckers on fire.
Sebastian had the foresight to take some matches with him--fortunate, since burning zombies to ash is the only way to make sure they stay dead. They all light up like dried Christmas trees when they encounter a lit match, and their ragdoll twitching as their flesh burns to a crisp is both hilarious and disturbing. Out of matches? Then you're in a very bad way, and must contend with ghouls that refuse to die. Your only hope is to stumble upon a spare box of matches, or a wall-mounted torch... if you're lucky.
You'll be able to upgrade both Sebastian and his old-school arsenal
Forget automatic pistols and tricked-out SMGs--Sebastian likes his weapons old-fashioned. In the demo I played, my selection of firearms was limited to a pump-action shotgun, a devastating crossbow, Sebastian's trusty revolver, and a salvaged hunting knife. The archaic feel of the guns makes them no less satisfying to shoot into a zombie's belly, and their antiquated look only adds to the gritty ambience of the overall game.
But that's not to say that Sebastian's averse to upgrades. As you explore, you'll find pieces of reclaimed machinery from traps and crates, as well as jars of green goo. I used the former to craft more ammunition (including special types for the crossbow), and it will also be used to cobble together traps and snares. The green goo had no purpose in my demo, but in the final game it will be the currency that fuels the upgrade system. Sebastian's health and stamina bars can be upgraded, but only via special syringes. They're few and far between, easy to miss, and the extent of their benefits falls between 'barely anything' and 'not much at all'.
The mysterious Ruvik seems to be the cause of this entire nightmare
You might've noticed a hooded, imposing figure in the latest Evil Within trailers, who looks up to reveal a sinister, disfigured face. That's Ruvik--and whenever he shows up, you're bound to have a really bad time. Sebastian encounters Ruvik constantly, since Ruvik is a seemingly omnipotent baddie that can teleport at will and devastate your entire life bar just by poking you with his index finger.
Ruvik will certainly play a central role in the plot, since Dr. Jimenez seems to recognize him from a dark part of his past. If you attempt to shoot Ruvik when he warps two inches in front of you, he'll simply phase out of the way, Agent Smith-style. In terms of story, Ruvik is definitely the primary antagonist--and in terms of gameplay, he will be the enemy you fear the most. Why, you ask? Well
Sometimes, you've just got to run and hide for your life
Ruvik, and many of the other mutilated boogeymen that Sebastian encounters, simply can't be killed. You can shoot at them all you want, but all you'll get for your trouble is a Game Over screen drenched in Sebastian's blood. Your only option, then, is to run in the opposite direction, as fast as Sebastian's miniscule sprint meter will carry you. And run you will, because usually, it's instant death if your pursuer catches up.
Besides providing a thrill during cinematic, bone-chilling set pieces, being hunted by an immortal monster is also a recurring game mechanic. At random intervals, a blue pulse will fill Sebastian's head. That means it's time to hide or die, because Ruvik is roaming around near your location. If you don't take refuge underneath a bed or inside a wardrobe, Ruvik is likely to find you and disintegrate your body with a single touch. Whether this will be annoying or enthralling has yet to be determined, but it's certainly a good way to keep you on your toes.
Disturbing, confusing imagery is everywhere
This shouldn't come as a surprise, but The Evil Within exists to creep you the hell out. And rather than inundate you with a series of corny jumpscares, Evil Within leans quite a bit on the kind of atmospheric horror seen in games like Silent Hill or Parasite Eve. Sebastian seems to be losing his mind with each passing moment, since he's thrown in and out of nightmarish unrealities at the drop of a hat.
And funnily enough, it won't be the gory details--like bleeding walls or fleshy blockades wrapped in barbed wire--that unsettle you the most. Rather, it's the innocuous things, like a fleeting vision of a dandelion field, or the vacant stare of a decaying mannequin, that will really make your skin crawl. The Evil Within also changes your environment when you least expect it for some great, horribly unsettling moments. You know that family portrait you were looking at just a second ago? Look again. Now everyone has their eyes ripped off the painting, save for the dead-eyed boy you're investigating. Dear GOD.
Shifting reality keeps you on your toes
The asylum plays with Sebastians perceptions as soon as he enters it, transforming from a mundane--if creepily empty--crime scene into a blood-drenched nightmare filled with otherworldly creatures. It reminds us of Silent Hills shifts between spooky buildings and outright hellish landscapes, but the changing reality seems even greater when you leave the asylum.
Areas will range between tight hallways to open outdoor areas, including a cabin where Sebastian fights off waves of monsters. Once the combat is over, reality starts to warp, rearranging the room and ultimately pulling Sebastian back into the asylum. How exactly does someone free themself from something like this?
All the terrifying insanity runs on id Tech 5
The Evil Within is coming soon, due sometime later this year. In order to get this terrifying game on as many systems as possible, Bethesda has announced that it's coming to Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
What type of game engine could bridge the two console generations? Mikami is using sister studio ids id Tech 5, the same technology that ran Rage and will (presumably) run Doom 4. This is promising for the games visuals, but we hope that Mikami can finish his game with it faster than id finishes theirs.
See you in your nightmares
Thats all we know for now, but keep checking back for updates as we learn more about the game. Until then, does Evil Within sound like a true return to Mikamis horror roots? Let us know in the comments.