Things that go bump in the night.
Survival-horror games are a genre that has lost its way over the past decade. lt seems that some game developers believe throwing a ton of zombies at you in the dark results in a terrifying game. It doesn't. To create a perfect amount of terror within a survival-horror game, you need the perfect balance of atmospheric creepiness, story, and ghoulish creatures, not just a ridiculously large amount of enemies and an assault rifle. The Evil Within has that balance locked down.
My short time with the game involved me escorting a doctor through a creepy town to find the building where a demented patient was being kept. Once we had secured the patient and had made it to a seemingly safe haven in a quiet corridor in the basement a white-hooded figure appeared at the end of the hallway. The doctor issued a warning for me not to follow the man and of course I did. Upon doing so there was a shift in the corridor entirely. The doctor and his son were nowhere to be found and upon looking behind me where they should have been I instead found myself looking down a corridor that seemed endless. I was completely alone and completely freaked out.
The environments are just as deadly as any creature in the game with traps hidden throughout most areas. Tripwire traps and proximity mines are a few of the dangers lurking around every corner. You can disarm these traps to craft metal parts into (weapons) or use them to your advantage when faced with a large number of enemies. However, if you go to disarm proximity mines and are not successful there is no time to run away; you just get blown the hell up. In my case I opted to use them as traps for my enemies after failing several times to disarm them. They came in handy once I ran up a narrow stairwell and shot at a proximity mine hanging on the wall, incinerating half of the enemies who had carelessly crowded around it.
Once I had dwindled the number of my foes, I could focus on the stragglers. In any other survival-horror game this might prove to be an easy task, but that was not the case at all for The Evil Within. Conventional weaponry is not as affected as one might hope. Shooting these undead hellions or bashing them in the head and watching them fall to the floor is no longer enough to ensure their demise.
In order to make sure your foes stay dead, you will need to burn their bodies after delivering a seemingly killing blow. Even if their head is blasted off, there is still a chance they will continue to attack you. The task of incinerating them was very tricky to pull off when dealing with more than one enemy because lighting a match and throwing it at the body you want to burn can seem like an eternity when a second foe is only a few feet away.
Even on causal difficulty, The Evil Within is a daunting experience. Ammo is scarce and your stamp can be spent quickly if you aren't careful. When you run out of stamina it brings your movements to a complete halt until you catch your breath. This was a bit annoying when I was sprinting away from that multi-limbed demon beast featured in the newest E3 trailer. You can try and sprint in short spurts to conserve energy but the recovery time isn't that great and it leaves you vulnerable. In this case, that meant me watching helplessly as protagonist Sebastian Castellanos stopped to take long, deep breaths while the demented multi-limbed demon monster thing was storming in my direction.
Once I had survived the gauntlet and successfully escaped the grasp of the beast, I was in the clear. Or so I thought. While running downstairs that I assumed would lead me to my escape, I found myself eye to eye with a sinister, white-hooded figure, also previously seen in the trailer. I found myself running away when I realized that weapons clearly weren't going to cut it. Apparently, running the hell away from mini-bosses is officially the best way to bypass most bosses in The Evil Within. It's nice to see that unloading a ton of artillery isn't always the answer to winning boss fights in this game. Death actually matters in The Evil Within.
Stealth also plays a major role in The Evil Within's gameplay. I didn't get to implement stealth as much in the level I played because I was ambushed by a large group of enemies but when exploring areas it is normally best to do so as quietly as possible. One of my favorite stealth aspects of the game is the fact that you can hide in closets and under beds. It's a seamless transition from regular gameplay to your hiding spot, without loading screens or anything. You can also use items in the environment to lure enemies away from you, like picking up bottles and throwing them in the distance, away from points of interest.
Shinji Mikami has again redefined the survival-horror genre with a game that may certainly go on to surpass Resident Evil and many other survival horror games on many levels of terrifying. As much as I love the Resident Evil franchise, The Evil Within is truly more nightmarish and unsettling than an survival horror enthusiast could ever hope for. There was absolutely no moment during my short playthrough where I felt safe, not even when I was hiding underneath a bed out of sheer paranoia. The Evil Within will be available this year on a wide range of platforms, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, when it releases on October 21st in the U.S and October 24th in Europe.