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Published on May 28th, 2014 | by IceCube

GLiTCH Plays: The Evil Within

Hi guys,

I’m GLiTCH and welcome to my latest preview! I recently got to invited to play a world-first media hands-on with The Evil Within, a new third-person survival horror game.

This title is being pieced together by Shinji Mikami, the brains behind the Resident Evil series, who has strongly pitched it as the long awaited return to “true, survival horror”. In this preview we played two chapters (8 & 12), and I really wanted to explore how he intended to go about achieving this big task.

Really good horror games (and films) are hard to find. Many attempt it, but very few nail it. So does this latest effort nail the scares? Yes, but not without some chin-rubbing concerns.

online_village_hatchet_1399631054 copyThe hosts were a real headache.

I really like the main character of this game: Detective Sebastian Castellanos. He’s cool, collected and looks the part, but sadly he doesn’t play his role as a human being very well, and this is one of the key reasons why the fear factor has some holes in it. From what we saw in two chapters loaded with frights, Sebastian rarely seemed terrified, phased or even slightly perplexed by the events surrounding him – and there is some crazy s**t happening here!

Relating to your character is key to understanding the situation at hand, so if he’s not scared, why should you be? He makes rare random comments with quotes like: “there’s something really wrong with this place”. We, er, kinda established that in the first minute of the game, but here we are in the middle of chapter eight rehearsing the role of Captain Obvious. What we needed was terrified panting, freaking out or just some sign that he’s only human. Even the coolest of cool people have some semblance of nerves.

online_brain_1399631051 copyThis was an autopsy puzzle to open a door… naturally.

In the past, Mikami has proved that human emotion is not always essential to make a great thriller. His former masterpiece, Resident Evil 4, was arguably the best entry to the franchise and one of the scariest survival horror games of all time, and he achieved this with Leon Kennedy’s reticent personality. Another example is with the early Silent Hill series, where minimal dialogue played advantage to the surreal mystery of your impossible situation. These great survival horror games used an eerie and intense atmosphere to create the feeling that you were living in your nightmare. To put it simply, they were subtle.

The Evil Within is as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face. In an attempt to push hard for that “true survival horror” claim, Mikami may have pushed too hard. This game simply throws every horror cliche at you, one after the other, and it feels like getting stoned by an angry mob.

online_mansion_snare_1399631052 copyThe doors open behind you and suck you towards that grinder. OH&S FAIL.

Here’s a list of just some of the different “scary things” I encountered in only two chapters:

– Various glowing eyes zombies
– Creeky doors, dark corridors, bloody walls, creepy paintings
– Never-ending tunnel
– A blood avalanche
– A Mad Scientist
– A re-appearing apparition of a hooded man
– Three decapitated, living heads
– Deadly booby traps
– A river of human carcasses
– A blood-soaked, eight-armed, spider woman
– Man-crushing spindle blades (with human vacuum)
– Human sacrifices
– Ghosts

online_mansion_ruvik_1399631052 copyThis annoying apparition reappears regularly to kill you upon touch.

The Evil Within is a scary game, even when it slams those scares repeatedly into your face. The mish-mash of horror is nonsensical from a cohesive standpoint, and I wasn’t given any story details that would explain the story so far. What I gathered though, is that the plot has a lot to do with the human brain, insanity, and scientific experimentation. Is our character imagining some kind of mental nightmare? Or is he really being drawn into a world of hellish horrors?

Our initial concern from the gameplay was the shockingly-choppy frame rate. Turning and aiming was painful and it was quite frustrating to play, particularly with extremely limited ammo and my naturally-terrible aim with nervous, sweaty palms. BUT my Bethesda host assured me that it was the result of two things: a) This early game-build that was in the process of being improved and b) the wrong graphics card supplied by the PC hire. It could just be PR-speak, but I believe it will be far more playable upon release.

online_village_knifefight_1399631055 copySebastian is not a fan of zombie cuddles.

To conclude, I don’t believe The Evil Within is due to join the ranks of the survival horror greats like Silent Hill, Resident Evil and The Last of Us, but it’s still early days and there’s much more to still see. It seems to be more “gore” than it is “thriller” or “scares”, but it is an absorbing horror game loaded with a variety of unexpected surprises, frantic action and intriguing puzzles.

The Evil Within is due out on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360, PS3 on August 28th!

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