While there were a lot of events to take place at Quake Con this year, one of the most anticipated was a live demonstration of Shinji Mikami’s newest horror game, The Evil Within. I myself attended the screening, and have to say you can really tell the game is being directed by the same man as Resident Evil 4.
The similarities to the classic horror game is uncanny. The demonstration started with main character Sebastian investigating a quiet mansion surrounded by police cars, not entirely unlike the opening to Resident Evil 4, except with two others as backup and police outside who give a damn.
But that backup was soon lost when Sebastian saw three armed officers on a security camera get taken down by a transparent, deformed man who teleported around like Albert Wesker. After the man looked at Sebastian, the screen turned white, and the game suddenly switched to first person view instead of third, and the well-known scene of Sebastian hanging upside down with other dead bodies was played out.
While the transition is probably meant to catch a player off-guard, it’s quite the swerve, and no explanation about anything happening was offered in the demonstration. There wasn’t even any dialogue to acknowledge it. That’s likely on purpose, but you would expect someone in such a situation to at least utter some kind of remark questioning what the hell is going on. I would. Then again, the giant chainsaw-armed jerk probably shut him up in what was a legitimately scary moment of it mutilating a nearby corpse, but even then you’d expect at least a scream before that.
After arriving in what is basically Silent Hill’s butcher shop, Sebastian grabbed a knife from out of a nearby hanging body and cut himself free. The knife shined white to distinguish itself from the dark environment, much like Resident Evil 4.
After that, the rest of the first part of the demonstration consisted of Sebastian sneaking around the giant chainsaw-wielding monster, grabbing a key to open a specific door (like Resident Evil), and running from the monster through hallways in what were obviously scripted events. At one point Sebastian demonstrated his ability to distract the monster by throwing a bottle with the physics of the moon. I could hear a fraction of the audience chuckling when that happened, which I doubt is the reaction the demonstrator wanted.
At another point, Sebastian was able to escape the monster from behind a closed grate, but the walls behind the grate were made entirely of spinning sawblades and were closing in. Thankfully the door on the other side of the room was unlocked, making it significantly less tense. Who designed that room? Jigsaw? Probably not, because Jigsaw would lock the door!
While sneaking around the butcher, the demonstrator eventually let himself get caught (they admitted to as much) so it could decapitate him in what I swear was a frame-by-frame recreation of the chainsaw decapitations in Resident Evil 4 (are you sensing a pattern?).
For the second part in a new in-game area, the demonstration showed off combat. The Evil Within plays like most other third person shooters, but with a much more limited supply of ammo to add a sense of value to the bullets and caution to their use. Using his mighty pistol, Sebastian wasted two deformed monsters, one through decapitation and the other through burning it while on the ground, kind of like the Resident Evil remake. It was stated before the presentation that monsters could "play dead", which is why the burning option is there for some assurance.
It turned out Sebastian was in a shabby little house, and when he looked out the window, he saw more humanoid monsters coming toward it carrying torches. He them had to defend the little cottage from the monsters that were coming in through the windows and up the stairs.
Gee! That doesn’t sound familiar at all!
But before anyone could point out the similarity, Sebastian was instantly teleported (it's ot explained yet) away to a hallway. Some linear hallways later (as the entire game is looking so far) Sebastian kept being instantly teleported to different locations (kind of like F.E.A.R.) until the demonstration ended with Sebastian being attacked by a multi-armed demon that came out of the ground in a blood-soaked room.
You may have noticed that The Evil Within shares a lot of similarities with Resident Evil, especially the ones Shinji Mikami worked on in the last generation. That isn’t a bad thing though; that means he knows what aspects of those games made them scary, and he's working his magic with The Evil Within. The giant screen and blaring speakers probably helped, but the demonstration was scary, atmospheric, and disorienting (in a good way). The game may end up being scarier than any Resident Evil game, to be honest.
However, it doesn’t look like The Evil Within has Resident Evil’s exploratory elements. There were rooms out of the way to look in and find health syringes in (no need to check the contents), but for the most part everything seemed linear, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Maybe it was only that way to keep the demonstration on track. We’ll have to see for ourselves when we can actually play it, but so far it’s succeeding in delivering the scares.
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