Bethesda had a pretty huge booth dedicated to the Shinji Mikami directed The Evil Within. I’ve been curious about this game for some time, especially since information on it has been scarce to say the least. Also, big, elaborate booths draw me in like a moth to a flame so I had to see what this game was about.
This was yet another hands-off demonstration which, in and of itself, isn’t bad. However, all we got were the two demos being screened without any narration from a PR person or developer. After the presentation I spoke to the solo rep in the booth and he told me that the development team is located in Japan and neck deep into development so they couldn’t fly out to the States to talk about the game. They’ll be at E3 to field questions about the game but for now all I had to experience was the stuff shown at PAX.
The first demo took place in a city that was falling apart. Buildings were toppling over and cracks formed in the streets. The entire world was ever changing and the main character had to navigate through perilous streets, allies and sidewalks. After trying not to get killed by the city, the protagonist then had to face a new danger… the undead. This is a Shinji Mikami game so I can’t exactly say that I was surprised by this. The game already had a Resident Evil feel to me but the instant those zombies showed up it became RE to me in all but name.
The second demo took place in the sewers. Here, the main character was trying to evade what I called a “super box head” zombie. It was big and lumbering and could take you out in a few hits. It had a metal box on its head so, while it made it look silly, also made it hard to easily dispatch. The protagonist had to close down huge doors in order to slow it down but eventually had to face the large undead creature. He pulled out a crossbow and shot some kind of ice arrow that froze the zombie. While in this state, the foe was easily killed with a few shotgun shots. This kind of deflated the threat but it was effective.
Zombies can be killed in one of two ways. Like most traditional undead, they could be dealt with permanently via a good old fashioned headshot. The other way is by roasting them alive. When a zombie is downed, an icon indicating that it could be lit on fire appears. When they burn they screech with a high pitched noise that’s really disturbing. They also make a noise when you shoot their heads off which is weird considering that they have no more vocal chords (or throat, or mouth or jaw) to make noise. Zombies could also be stealthily dispatched as well by sneaking up behind them and stabbing them in the head with a knife.
The zombies themselves were of the George Romero type: Slow and lumbering. Some did move faster than others and one even had a machine gun. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are even more zombie types in the final game.
The demo had a limited amount of weapons. There was a handgun, shotgun, sniper rifle and crossbow. While a shotgun is good for completely obliterating a zombie’s cranium, other weapons such as the handgun were good for shooting out their knees to slow them down and make them easier to kill.
This is a survival horror game and the graphics do a good job of presenting a dark and oppressive world. Both demos took place in environments which had different types of lighting (day and night) but both were equally as disturbing feeling. The game has a film grain quality to it and is also presented in a widescreen format. The sound complimented the visuals and they had an appropriately creepy feel to them as well.
At this point in time I’m not really sure what to make of The Evil Within. It looked nice and I respect the man behind it but I don’t see how it will distinguish itself from other survival horror games, especially Resident Evil. I have so many questions about the game, such as what inspired it and what it hopes to introduce to the survival horror genre. I guess we’ll just have to wait until E3 hits to find out more.