The Evil Within E3 2014 Preview

The Evil Within

Resident Evil fans have been longing for a true taste of Shinji Mikami’s classic survival horror magic since 2005, when the excellent Resident Evil 4 shook up the gaming world with its innovative fusion of horror and action. RE4 featured a balance and sense of pacing never again achieved by a Resident Evil title or arguably any horror game since. As for the original Resident Evil format, it’s been gone for over a decade.

Enter The Evil Within.

The name itself hints that Resident Evil lives and breathes somewhere inside this Bethesda-published survival horror title developed by Shinji Mikami’s Tango Gameworks studio. And from the extended, two-part demo I had the opportunity to play at this year’s E3, it looks like that implication is valid. I came away from Bethesda’s dark demo room not only satisfied with what I’d played, but wanting more of that sweet survival horror.

The Evil Within

The primary part of the demo was set inside a dark, haunted mansion and focused on a particular psychological patient’s history, revealed through flashback apparitions that were tied to a series of medical experiments. These served as simple lock-and-key-style puzzles; in order to proceed, I had to insert an electrode into a living subject’s cerebral cortex to match a nearby medical report. After a few of these probings, a massive door unlocked, opening the way forward.

The game’s design encouraged me to move at a slow, deliberate pace, taking care to drop a lit match onto each zombie-like foe I vanquished along the way, lest it return to punish me later. Ammo for my pistol, shotgun, and Detective Sebastian Castellanos’ signature weapon, the Agony Crossbow, were all satisfactorily scarce, forcing me to fire conservatively on the slowly advancing walking dead whether it was with hard ammo or special shock, freeze, flash, or explosive bolts, which will be crafted from parts found throughout the game — usually by way of disarming traps.

The Evil Within

Much of the demo also tapped into the psychological horror that was once reserved for the Silent Hill franchise. In a different area, hallways warped as I walked, and a torrent of blood rushed over Castellanos. At one point, a multi-limbed girl emerged from a pool of blood in the floor and initiated a high-tension chase sequence. And throughout the experience, a malicious specter called Ruvik appeared intermittently, in a flash of light, and pursued Castellanos with an eerie outstretched hand for a few minutes at a time. Being caught by this terror was devastating, as it brought Sebastian to the brink of death, so again, the only option here was to run.

Even healing oneself dangerous in The Evil Within. The detective can recover health with simple syringes without any ill effects, but using a full medical kit results in blurred, dizzied vision and slowed movement for about half a minute. Sounds like a perfect time for Ruvik to show up, and in my playthrough, of course he did.

The Evil Within is shaping up to be something really special. The simplest way to describe what I experienced in Bethesda’s booth at E3 2014 is “a technically improved blend of the golden age of the Resident Evil and Silent Hill franchises.” It looks like it will be exactly what fans of the genre have wanted for years. We’ll find out for sure on October 21.



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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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