The Evil Within Puts "Survival" Back Into Survival Horror

The Evil Within Puts "Survival" Back Into Survival Horror

the evil within logo

A behind-closed-doors hands-off gameplay demo of The Evil Within shown at Tokyo Game Show scared the pants off me.

In the entirety of the ten minute extended The Evil Within gameplay demo Bethesda was showing off behind closed doors at Tokyo Game Show, protagonist Detective Sebastian Castellanos did not fire a single shot. The Evil Within (or Psycho Break as it's called in Japan, because Japan loves cool English buzz words), very clearly puts the "survival" aspect back into survival horror, emphasizing running and hiding over just gunning down everything in your path.

The preview was essentially an extended version of the trailer we saw pop up earlier, walking us through what appeared to be several distinct gameplay segments. The Evil Within genuinely frightened me, for the simple reason that it actually had some sort of tension.

You see, the reason why games like the newest Resident Evil and the father of monster-closests: Doom 3, don't work as survival horror is because there is no tension. When a monster pops out, you are startled for a moment, and then you blow its head off. In The Evil Within, this is very clearly not an option for Castellanos.

One of the segments has him fleeing from a chainsaw-wielding masked maniac. At one point, he takes a chainsaw slice to the leg, which makes his desperate attempts to flee even more tense. He eventually manages to escape by hiding in a closet as the man passes by.

While the setting of The Evil Within (an abandoned mental institution) is certainly nothing new in survival horror, the way the engine works to just make everything look creepy, is brilliant. There is just the right amount of lighting, the perfect balance between "too clean" and "too dirty", and plenty of great atmospheric sound effects that help bring the world to life.

It's just too bad that the demo was being shown on these gargantuan screens it clearly wasn't designed for, making everything seem pixilated and blocky.

The Evil Within is looking like it might be another stellar installment in the survival-horror renaissance kick-started by Amnesia. Definitely keep your eye on this one.


Tip for enemies in survival horrors: Check the closet. If you cannot see your quarry, he is very probably in the closet. Even if he isn't, checking won't hurt, and at least you'll have narrowed down the possibilities. But he's totally in the closet.

Why check the closet when you have a chainsaw? Just test it instead.

Tip for enemies in survival horrors: Check the closet. If you cannot see your quarry, he is very probably in the closet. Even if he isn't, checking won't hurt, and at least you'll have narrowed down the possibilities. But he's totally in the closet.

I concur with this advice! Especially seeing as it always seems to me that I wind up hiding behind or under things. :)

Otherwise I have indeed been waiting eagerly for "The Evil Within". I am actually hoping it manages to deliver a combination of combat and stealth approaches, like some other games, and manages to be organic enough where both are an option in most cases as I feel both the "kill everything" and "avoid everything" approach are suspension of disbelief killers on their own. There have been many times in some of the stealth oriented games like Outlast where some dude has walked right past me and all I could think is "right now, this guy should be totally at my mercy" especially when the enemy isn't supernatural or augemented, and is apparently just some crazy dude.

Over the years I've tried to think about how to put it... and I guess what I'm saying is that what we need is more "Manhunt" where stealth is encouraged due to overwhelming odds, but so is combat under the right circumstances, especially if you set up a good takedown.

At any rate, the only way they are going to really avoid the problems inherent in "Resident Evil" is if they decide to at least change the protagonist every installment, either that or make it a "final fantasy" type anthology series where certain things carry over (like the name Cid) but otherwise it approaches the general subject of "survival horror" a bit differently each time. The thing about "Resident Evil" is that it's transition from survival horror to action adventure makes sense, I mean the first couple of games used characters that were just now running into the threat for the first time and were thus unprepared and didn't know what to do. Common sense of course dictates the progression of the series, once these guys know what is coming, and prepare for it, it becomes far more straightforward. What's more logically when you have a corporation (no matter how big) running around killing towns and cities for experiments, eventually people ARE going to notice, and the development of an organization to counter them makes sense, albeit it then goes into a sort of "Bio-hazard Busting GI Joe" schtick with Umbrella as Cobra, and Wesker as Cobra Commander. Needless to say it's not horror any more at that point.

I'll also say that I am quite surprised more companies haven't tried to do "Call Of Cthulhu" based survival horror games as that mythos is pretty much perfect for the entire thing. A lot of the stories, by a number of authors (including Howard himself) featured fairly rugged protaganists, doing rugged things. We've also seen entire RPGs based around it already (with mixed results) the bottom line is that when you get away from the sanity nonsense, there are some things you can fight, and some things you can't. Meaning there is a lot of room for cases where your going to run, hide, and gather information, as well as some things where the proper response is a Tommy Gun and a pair of brass knuckles, but in the end the central threat is typically something your just going to be able to hold off for another few decades, you generally don't try and throttle Hastur with piano wire (I hope on this site at least I won't have to explain this, but the idea of someone thinking about it is kind of amusing none the less). Bethesda itself did a Call Of Cthulhu game called "Dark Corners Of The Earth" which was actually pretty good, if under promoted, and in need of some serious polish (for example running from the mobs in Innsmouth near the beginning was a great chase/stealth scene but it was glitch and undirected enough to be annoying at the same time).

This cop is truly f****d. I see many grisly deaths ahead of him.


Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
Register for a free account here