Fresh from my intense hands-on session with Resident Evil Revelations 2, I was excited to check out other horror games present at this year’s Tokyo Game Show. Coincidentally enough, the Psycho Break booth, or The Evil Within as it’s called in the west, was right opposite the Capcom booth I’d just exited. Eager to see what Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil, had come up with this time, I hopped in line and waited for my turn to see what the game had in store for me.
In a nutshell, The Evil Within blew Resident Evil Revelations 2 completely out of the water. Everything I encountered in the 20 minutes I had with the game felt like it was taken straight out of the original Resident Evil back on the PS1, except with a more psychological Silent Hill-esque twist to it.
The demo put me in control of Sebastian Castellanos, a detective investigating a string of murders. As the demo started, I walked Sebastian down a straight wooded path before finally arriving at an ominous-looking iron gate that opened the way to a large mansion. After taking a quick look around the courtyard area and coming to a damning realization that there was no other way to go but into the mansion, I took a deep breath and had Sebastian open the large double doors.
Once inside, the game opens up and gives you the freedom to explore whichever areas you wish. There was a huge metal door in the middle of the mansion’s main hall and searching for a way to open it seemed to be my next objective. There were two rooms on the first floor of the main hall, as well as a set of stairs leading up to even more areas available for exploration. Armed with a revolver and a few bullets, I began my exploration very cautiously.
The zombies in this game are vicious, though putting 2 or 3 bullets through their bodies will quickly take them down. There’s a catch, though; shooting them won’t kill them off permanently, you have to strike a match and burn their bodies to prevent the zombies from getting up again. Matches are very scarce, so once you’ve run out, you’ll probably have to rely heavily on stealthy maneuvers to survive the stages. In fact, the game does give you plenty of opportunities to sneak past your enemies. There are lots of environmental objects available for Sebastian to take cover behind, and with a little bit of observation of the enemy movement patterns, I was able to get past a few zombies without being detected.
There is also an eye icon that appears on the screen whenever a zombie is in the vicinity. When the eye is seen roving around from left to right, it means the zombie has yet to spot you. If the eye is wide open though, you should probably run because that means the zombie’s found you and you do not want to be caught in a situation with multiple zombies and little ammo to fend them off with.
Traps are set everywhere in the mansion so it’s wise to tread lightly. Once, as I was attempting to run away from some zombies, I set off a trap that almost dragged Sebastian to a gory death with a couple of spiked rotating cylinders.
There is a supernatural aspect to The Evil Within as well, and this could be seen from a very peculiar incident in a bathroom where I had the option to examine a mirror. Examining it took Sebastian to a whole other area entirely, which I suspect to have been either a past memory belonging to Sebastian himself or perhaps a clue regarding the mystery of the mansion. Whatever it was, it did a fantastic job of creeping me out even more than the zombies already had.
There is an atmospheric tension in The Evil Within, and coupled with a frightening scarcity of supplies, it is definitely starting to look like what might be one of the scariest games we’ve seen in quite some time. The Evil Within proves, without a doubt, that Shinji Mikami’s still got what it takes to strike fear in the players’ hearts.
The Evil Within will be released for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC on 14th October.