The Evil Within, or Psychobreak as it is known here in Japan, has a pretty big presence here at TGS, even though there is no actual playable demo. Instead, there is a large room dedicated to delivering an auditory and visual experience of the game that I got a chance to see here in Tokyo.
The video begins with a cement wall that begins undulating, separating, shifting, then finally opening up to reveal the game. Already the game seems to be teasing at the psychological aspects of the title as the opening was more art house than anything that could be called a video game. The scene then opens with the main character exiting a car, with two detectives, a male and female, by his side. The main character approaches the mansion alone and we are treated to another short piece which is more video art than game. It features the mansion separated into three separate panels, the left showing the left wing, the right wing to the right panel, and the main building in the center. Shadows then descend upon each of the panels, shifting light and creating perceptions within the viewer, showing faces on the building’s façade, and letting sinister-looking motifs fall on the building’s wings. If the first scene of the video was like an M.C. Escher piece, the asylum segment was more akin to a Rorschach test.
Finally, gameplay takes over fully and we are inside a bloodied up mental hospital, encountering a menacing butcher, then making a desperate, wounded escape from said butcher, avoiding large industrial traps straight out of Saw films, and ending with a supernatural event.
All-in-all, Shinji Mikami’s promise to return gamer’s to a true Survival-Horror franchise seems to be true as familiar motifs such as long, empty hallways, violent symbolic imagery, and escape vs. combat all seemed to be at play here. Details I found personally inviting was the fact that I couldn’t firmly date the game which looks to be present time but the style of clothing for all characters seems to imply differently. Additionally, the audio design of the game seems to be top-form as the music has an operatically haunting feel with moments of extreme intensity. Lastly, the imagery is all fantastic with barbed wires, industrial settings, and genuinely horrific monsters. The whole thing is very Session 9 and could very well be the most worthy successor to Silent Hill 2‘s subtle horror without being a Silent Hill title.
It may have just been a video, but The Evil Within continues to be my most anticipated title of 2014 simply by presenting so many ideas that will entice any fan of survival or psychological horror. For now, you can look forward to playing it once it arrives next year for PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and One, and PC.