The Evil Within is probably the scariest game we’ll have seen since some of the earlier Silent Hill games. In fact, it’s designed by Shinji Mikami of the original Resident Evil (you know, the one that is actually real survival horror and scared the pants off of us in 1996).
DualShockers Community Manager Dianna Lora and I sat in a room full of journalists from other media outlets, and we were shown a hands-off playable demo that started with two male investigators and a civilian female driving a car towards a mental asylum where there was a bloody incident of unknown cause. The woman’s expression at hearing the word “unknown,” leads me to believe that she has an idea what is happening; however she’s ordered to wait outside the building. Inside the asylum, the ground floor has a healthy helping of dead bodies scattered about. After leaving his comrade who takes responsibility for looking after the sole survivor, the investigation quickly takes a turn for the worse, as something I can only describe as a demon (that is so fast that it seemingly teleports) pops up behind Sebastian the protagonist, and our view goes dark.
When Sebastian regains consciousness, the room around him is still pretty dark. There are sounds of dripping, which you soon realize is blood dripping from yourself and from other nearby bodies. As Sebastian’s vision clears a little more, you see what appears to be a monster of some sort, staring straight at you. But, on second glance, it could just have been a severely deformed human being. The room is still pretty dark, but there are some pretty disturbing sounds of cutting and squishing nearby, which we are led to believe by looking peripherally to the side, that it is somebody being brutally eviscerated by a weapon or a tool.
Things quiet down and vision clears more. We now see that Sebastian is hanging upside down from the ceiling, apparently just like all the the other bodies in the room. The monster/human in front of Sebastian has a knife sticking out of its side. After swaying back and forth several times, Sebastian makes a grab for the knife and cuts himself down onto a metallic floor covered with pools of drained blood and guts. The aggressor is in the next room and it isn’t the teleporting demon that brought us here; it’s a big, fat, hulking mass of a monstrosity that barely resembles anything human. The monster works dilligently to heavily chop a deceased human subject into organic pieces at a work table.
The scenes so far have been so disturbing that my eyes were glued to the screen. However, there were a few times I glanced to the side after hearing gasps from Dianna. The story and sights thus far definitely rattled her. As for myself, I was enjoying what I saw. I happen to love survival horror, and this game was tickling me in all the right places.
As the game continues, there’s an exit nearby, but it’s locked and the keyring hangs from a hook next to the captor’s worktable. Eventually, the captor trudges slowly into another room and Sebastian sees his moment. He slinks stealthly to the worktable, snags the keyring, unlocks the exit and moves down a hallway. Unfortunately he snaps a tripwire that sets off a noisy alarm and alerts the hulking brute to his presence. The brute appears behind with a chainsaw, sprinting angrily ahead to slash at Sebastian.
As the chase proceeds, the brute grazes Sebastian’s leg with the chainsaw, forcing Sebastian into a limp. He leaps through a doorway, and the brute flips a switch that encloses him into the room: a trap! The room illuminates and reveals long, giant grinders along the walls, and the grinders slowly close towards the center. Sebastian limps through the room, somehow arriving safely to the other side and exits. Judging by the sounds, the brute is not far behind. It becomes a game of cat and mouse, with Sebastian trying to move from room to room, hiding in a locker and behind tables and crates as the brute runs around yelling and shearing the walls and floors with his chainsaw, enraged at having lost his captive.
At some point, the scenery changes, as if Sebastian himself warped to another location. There are a handful of strange supernatural occurrences such as a blood pouring through the hallway towards you as if a giant dam of it had burst. There’s a super freaky ghostly-zombie monster with more than four appendenges and long dark hair that creeps towards you and then sprints with sudden speed. Eventually, escape from the front door of the asylum yields an extremely perplexing view of the city destroyed by something so massive that there is a giant crater in front of the asylum. What in the world is going on?
As for the combat and action, there’s a later scene where the wooden house you’re in is assaulted by a wave of zombies and you fight back with motion sensing land mines, a shotgun, and other weapons. When a zombie hits the ground, you have the option of lighting it on fire to finish it off. You can heal yourself by occassionally finding syringes and injecting yourself with the contents.
When the demo ended and the lights came back on, Dianna yelled towards the designers and Shinji, “What’s wrong with you people!?” The room responded with muffled, nervous laughter. Everyone in the room seemed to have been affected by what they saw, myself included. But, my thoughts were different: “…that…was…awesome!” There may be something wrong with Shinji Mikami for him to creatively express a nightmare like this and share it with the world. But, if there is something wrong with him, why does it feel so right?