It's been a while since we've had a good survival horror game. Thankfully, Bethesda plans to pull out all the stops with The Evil Within, which it recently showed at a behind-closed-doors event.
The Evil Within is currently in development at Tango Gameworks, a team led by director Shinji Mikami. A lot of fans will be familiar with that name, as he's worked on such classics as Resident Evil 4 and Shadows of the Damned. Clearly, he has a taste for horror, and from what we saw in the demo, this game is loaded to the brim with it.
In The Evil Within, you portray a detective named Sebastian Castellanos, who's called upon with a couple of team members to investigate a disturbance at Beacon Mental Hospital. When the team arrives, they find the scene in disarray, with a number of empty cop cars surrounding the building. Upon entering the hospital, Sebastian finds even more creepiness, with blood everywhere and no sign of human life.
Eventually he runs into a confused doctor and leaves his partner to attend to him while investigating further. He then stumbles upon a room with a closed circuit TV system, and it's here where the shocking truth behind the hospital sets in. A mysterious figure teleports across the hallways, killing a couple of police officers with throat slashes before unplugging the TV feed. Sebastian fails to see the figure suddenly appear behind him, jabbing a syringe into his neck and knocking him out.
When he reawakens, he finds himself hanging upside down in a meat locker of sorts, with a weird mutated figure walking around. Longtime gamers will see Mikami's personal touch throughout the scene, especially with the creepy Bach's Air On a G-String playing in the background.
After pulling a knife from a nearby corpse, Sebastian breaks free and sneaks past the huge creature, making his way out the door. He grabs a set of keys and enters another door, but sets off an alarm. The large monster takes off in pursuit with a chainsaw in hand. Sebastian escapes, but not before taking a nasty laceration to his leg.
Here's where The Evil Within demo really took off, as Sebastian limped around trying to avoid the wrath of the chainsaw-wielding creature. You'll have to employ stealth techniques in order to survive being detected, occasionally using a distraction to your advantage. Sometimes, with smaller enemies, it's encouraged you fight back, but considering the size of this guy, it was best to stay quiet.
Mikami and his team have no problem keeping the tension running high. While limping away from his adversary, it almost looked like Sebastian would get captured and sawed in half. However, he barely escaped through a steel door with the chainsaw-wielding maniac rattling his weapon against metal bars.
The demo concluded with one more tense moment, as Sebastian, slowly recovering from his wound and regaining use of his leg, made his way into a room filled with what appeared to be a pile of red goo. Suddenly, a beast with multiple legs emerged from the substance, lunging towards Sebastian and impaling him before the screen faded to black.
With The Evil Within, Mikami seems to have borrowed elements from his classic Resident Evil, with a similar third-person camera view and the occasional option to use a weapon to your advantage – like the knife Sebastian stole from the corpse. However, this game shows a bigger leap in tension, especially when the detective is incapable of fighting a stronger, faster enemy. You'll have better chances to fight back throughout the game, but you'll want to keep a close eye on your resources or you're a dead man.
We were also stunned by the game's sound design, which really ties in well with the overall product. You'll feel shivers down your spine as you hear nasties growling behind or in front of you.
We'll see more of the game this week at Comic-Con and provide further insight into this maddening, horror-filled world. One thing's for sure – it isn't for the squeamish.
The Evil Within will release next year for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.