The Evil Within was revealed back on Thursday, April 18, if you had been living under a rock. Originally known as “Project Zwei”, the game has the directorial backing of Shinji Mikami, who is well known for pushing the survival horror genre to popularity during the early days of Resident Evil. He was also responsible for the upbringing of Dino Crisis and Onimusha, as well as a creative part of Shadows of the Damned. While we didn’t get much information then, April 22 saw further reveals through IGN (of which you can find their feature right here), and excitement was abound. The Evil Within, for many horror gamers, looked like the type of game they wanted and/or needed, and Mikami being behind the project only made it all the sweeter. However, I’ve had some reservations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty excited for the game. However, will The Evil Within really turn out to be that breath of fresh air for horror games that everyone thinks it will be?
Originally, this article was going to be completely pessimistic. Not for the sake of any ulterior motives, but because I originally had more pessimistic views on the material that I read about concerning the game. After going back through some of the articles and news and sitting down and giving some more thought, I developed some more optimism with what I know about the game alongside those pessimistic ideas. Maybe you’ll agree with what I have to say; maybe you won’t.
Seeing as I’m quite split at the current moment concerning the game, I guess I could start with what is making me a bit uneasy about the future title which, in a general nutshell, is the direction in which the horror could go. Going back through that article from IGN, I’m given the impression that the game will focus quite a bit on presenting the type of horror we know where there seems to be much blood and gore flowing about–something which I’ve had a problem with when it comes to horror for awhile now (this is probably one of my more larger concerns) You can see this in the teaser trailer released as well (if that trailer is any slight representation of what you might find in the game).
The issue that I have with blood and gore is quite simple: it’s not scary. I understand that this is my opinion and not reflective of anyone else, but I find the situation a bit unnerving that the game would use material that has become quite consistent in much of horror these days. I find that blood and gore is one of the elements of horror these days that people have become accustomed to and, thus, just tend to shrug off.
The way that the environments have been described, according to IGN, make it seem like excessive use of carnage could end up being an integral part of the general atmosphere. I think the part that set me off is when IGN stated “We see every spot of blood, every severed intestine with garish clarity; beautifully disgusting.” concerning the environments and atmosphere. I’m not looking for Silent Hill-esqe atmosphere (after all, that’s for Silent Hill), but the idea of taking one of the elements of horror that just flies over people’s heads these days and placing it at the forefront like that really doesn’t set it apart in that area.
“There are a lot of survival horror games nowadays, but the thing that I want to focus on is having the perfect balance between horror and action.”
That quote from Mikami also kind of worries me a bit. I may be taking it out of context since who knows what the ‘perfect balance’ is. Is it 50/50? 70/30? Who knows? However, I worry about the injection of action into horror titles, especially nowadays. Mikami says that there will be a return to resource management, much like his older Resident Evil titles. However, remember that in older Resident Evil games you were often forced into confrontations. They may not have been all the time, but I remember playing through the first and second Resident Evil games and traversing narrow hallways and passageways with monsters and zombies blocking up the joint. How do you face that? You pretty much have no choice but to whip your weapon out and gun them down which throws out much of your resource management that you build up.
My general concern is that The Evil Within will go this route somehow. While it certainly isn’t something you need in a horror game, action is something that the general audience wants and I fear that there may be a return to these ‘forced confrontations’ with weapon in hand like in back in the older Resident Evil titles. I bring this up, of course, because it has been stated that this game is meant to take us out of this trend we see, but if there is going to be that appeal to the basic audience I feel like it’ll be shoehorned in somehow.
Of course, there are some aspects revealed about the game that I’m very optimistic about even not knowing much about them. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the trap system will be implemented. Having traps reminds me a bit of back in Siren where you could set up distractions to lure enemies and then get them from behind (one I remember is the radio in the well). I’m hoping quite strongly that the traps will become a very integral part of the game in which you deal with enemies as this could add a new innovation or twist, however small, on the survival horror genre. Will we have snag traps? Will we be able to set up some homemade devices and go all Home Alone on these enemies? Who knows at this point, but I’m hoping that we’ll find out much, much more about how they will play into the way the game is played.
This also coupled with the cover system which I believe is Mikami’s plan to coax more thought out of the player when dealing with enemies. I’m a bit mixed on this as well since this cover system in a horror game won’t be anything quite new for the genre (The Last of Us, which is partially survival horror, is implementing this method for dealing with the spore creatures). However, the fact that the enemies may react differently in this game whenever you go into hiding feels like something that can help add some tension into the game. As IGN put it, “When the fiend doesn’t know where Sebastian is, its movements are erratic and unpredictable; when it spots him, Sebastian must either run or get a chainsaw to the neck (an outcome that Tango kindly demonstrated for us).”
I’m a little on the fence with the reveal that the game will have environments that shift on you as well. This automatically makes me think ‘Silent Hill‘, which could be good and bad. Good because Silent Hill games are good horror games and they can provide some inspiration, but bad because we’ve already seen the transitions of your environment before with the Otherworld. If there were, in some way, the ability to make the environment changes random (this could be a stretch as these environmental changes could also be central to plot devices), I think that could make them a little more frightening to the player as a way to f*** with their mind. They could still provide a surprise even if scripted, but not as much if you go through more playthroughs since you’ll know what to expect.
Also, I have some hope when it comes to the creature design which is something I think has been lacking when it comes to horror games released these days. Dead Space 3 had either recycled enemies or some rather bland designs, Silent Hill: Downpour was notorious for the design of the creatures in-game, and of course we have an outburst of zombies…just to name a few. The designs, so far, are really reminding me of older Silent Hill times which were always creative with their designs (although there was usually a purpose behind them). Since what you face provides a much needed jolt to what you’ll get out of a horror game, the designs need to be well-made. That four-armed wraith creature still freaks me out and if what was said about this monstrosity in the IGN article I linked is any grand indication, that one will freak me the hell out.
As a person who loves horror games, I’m looking for someone to prove to me that a game in the genre these days can really deliver. I’m hoping that The Evil Within will do just that. Nothing against Mikami at all, but none of the horror games he’s been a part of that I’ve played have even remotely scared me (even when I played Resident Evil games at the young age of nine) I guess I’m one of those difficult-to-scare individuals that he talked about in the interview for The Evil Within.
Remember: I am in no way saying this game is not going to succeed or be a good game. In fact, I think it will be one of the better horror games we’ve seen in quite awhile as long as the focus is kept to provide us that. However, as far as whether or not this game will be that savior for triple-A horror titles, a breath of fresh air for the genre as a whole, or that roller coaster fright ride we want is yet to be seen. There are some things about the game at the moment that can make people question this and we’ve still got some time to go. Who knows what will happen between then. I guess us horror gamers will have to keep our fingers crossed.
At this current moment, do you have any concerns regarding The Evil Within? Do you think any of my concerns are valid concerns? Let me know in the comments.