Since its debut on the PlayStation One Resident Evil has been a pioneer for survival horror games. Now that the Resident Evil franchise is getting more action based, the games original Director Shinji Mikami has decided to create his own new survival horror game, The Evil Within. We got the chance to have a sneak peak at this years Gamescom.
You play as Sebastian Castellanos, a police detective who has been rushed to the scene of a mass murder at what appears to be a mental asylum. When Castellanos and his team appear on the scene however, not all is what it seems and a supernatural force soon starts killing them off one by one. Castellanos is attacked and loses consciousness and soon wakes up hanging upside down in a dungeon caked in blood and littered with dead bodies. With a monstrous looking demon butcher casually disemboweling a victim in the background Castellanos knows he has to act quickly.
Once the butcher has dragged his victim to the next room to be chopped up into tiny pieces, the player is encouraged to start their daring escape from this living nightmare. Whilst hanging upside down from a first person perspective you must work out how to get down from the ceiling using anything you can find and a heck of a lot of swinging.
After grabbing a knife from one of the many suspended corpses and cutting yourself down , the challenge was then to use stealth to grab a set of keys hanging in the butcher’s hellish kitchen. This is where the games stealth mechanics kick in as the player has to use the environment and timing to their advantage with tables and and doorways becoming your best friends. Eventually when the Butcher vacated the kitchen area it was possible to make the snatch and run for the door undetected. This was very reminiscent of old school horror games such as Silent Hill and Resident Evil, as you could feel the tension in the air. You knew if one false move was made then it would be instant death, which encourages you to really think about the situation.
After the keys were obtained it was then a simple case of finding the exit and getting out of the building in once piece. All is not as simple as that however as an alarm is tripped and the demon beast of a butcher is alerted. The pace of the game immediately changes as you are being pursued by the Butcher wielding a chainsaw. If you’re sensitive to stress then the immediate change of pace may be not for you, but this just adds to the feeling to the horror and isolation as you desperately run for your life. Whilst being pursued he aim now, as you can imagine is to run for your life and try to escape. Whilst running the player will have to jump and duck over a couple of obstacles which in turn will eventually slow down the Butcher’s rampage, however there are several narrow escapes which does get the adrenaline pumping.
The game then took an interesting turn as the player took a chainsaw to the leg. Now in usual games you would bandage the leg up or take some medicine and feel perfectly fine again. In this game however players have to cope with the injuries as they come along with any side effects they may create. After the chainsaw attack Castellanos has to continue his escape with a dirty big gash in his leg, making him less steady on his feet and more vulnerable. Once again stealth is on the your side again as lockers can be used as hiding places whilst the Butcher throws a hissy fit trying to find his victim. The stealth mechanics really came into their own here as the player was able to use the Butchers shadow in order to anticipate what he was doing or where he was going.
After a bit of stealth action and another very narrow escape the demo ended with Castellanos jumping into a lift. The demo then jumped forward to a section of the game which showed off some of the combat mechanics. This section was set in a dingy cottage where a horde of grotesque looking creatures where about to launch an attack. These slow walking gormless monsters looked and moved like a classic zombie but their appearance seemed more grotesque, for example some of these creatures had fence posts and nails protruding out of eye sockets and barbed wire wrapped around some of their limbs. To me there was something unnervingly manmade about these creatures, as if they had been somehow constructed like Frankenstein’s Monster as apposed to being the classic infected style zombie.
Whilst the horde moved to attack players had the opportunity to place proximity mines under windows in order to stall the horde. Once the creatures started climbing through the window players could start shooting and fending off the horde as much as they can. The shooting mechanics were reminiscent of Resident Evil as it appeared the player had to stand still in order to shoot and had to retreat should the numbers get too large. What was a nice touch though was the fact that once a creature was killed you needed to set the corpse on fire to make sure that your victim doesn’t get up again. This added to the survival aspect of this game giving a sense of desperation to make sure that what’s dead is really dead.
Soon enough the cottage was getting overrun by these creatures and that feeling of dread started to bubble up as the player had to retreat to a corridor. Once inside the corridor however things start getting very creepy as the environment then turns a dark supernatural shade of red and a ominous wave of blood comes rushing down the corridor. Just as the player becomes trapped with nowhere to go, the environment changes again as the corridor now appears to be back in the mental asylum. The game takes another frightening turn when the player enters the room as creature which can only be described as a grotesque humanoid spider emerges from a pool of blood on the floor. The demo cuts out just as the creature lands its attack leaving us wondering what sort of world we have been transported to.
From what we have seen so far The Evil Within brings back survival horror to its core roots whilst adding some great new ideas and gameplay mechanics. The use of shadows added the suspense and overall created an atmosphere of uncertainty and isolation. We can’t wait for the game’s release next year