It’s not long now till the release of this year’s hottest horror title, The Evil Within. Shinji Mikami’s disturbing take on the revival of Survival Horror looks to be a clash of tension building horror and intense survival action filled to the brim with blood, gore and scary spider ladies with several arms.
I was lucky to gain the opportunity to play the upcoming release at Game’s Lock-in at Stratford. This was an event that held playable demos of the game for late night gaming and a chance to explore early on what is to be expected from this title. Gaining entry to the event, I was soon placed by an Xbox one console and given a controller and headset. After a short introduction video, explaining that stealth and patience are key to survival, along with headshots, setting fire to dead bodies and when you walk next to a proximity mine, the beeping noise is a bad sign.
The demo took place mid-way through the game in a spooky mansion, much like the mansion from Shinji’s original master piece, Resident Evil. The objective here was to open a locked door and follow two other characters. The means of unlocking the door came soon enough after exploring the ground floor and discovering some enemies. In a dimly lit room, two “Haunted” creatures were feasting on a poor soul and rather enjoying their time together. I walked closer towards them only to find a mine on the wall next to me. After a booming flash, I was taken back to the checkpoint. I repeated the same path and was more cautious this time, to try and disarm the mine. This was not an easy effort and raised the tension even more. A mini game popped up and with quick reflexes I was able to disarm the mine and progress forward.
I soon learned that the enemies inside the game world are tough! They can be pretty powerful in their attacks and often enough, if they get close can cause serious damage to your character. After disposing a few shotgun shells they were defeated. The video did warn me however “the dead don’t stay dead”. Matches are another resource in the game and once in short supply and needed the most among ammo and health. Matches are used to burn bodies and finish off any defeated Haunted.
Soon I discovered my first puzzle and a gruesome one at that. On a table before me was a human head, opened at the back with an exposed brain. Apart from being extremely gross, the purpose of this activity was to represent a new style of puzzles with an extreme “Saw” like twist. To complete the puzzle, I needed to listen to a recording of some complete nutter discussing the sweet spot of the brain. Looking at a crude map of the brain and looking back at the actual thing, I had to place a rusty pin in the correct part to unlock one of the three locks at the main door.
After feeling slightly ill I ventured upstairs were there were many more haunted. This time I decided to use stealth which helps in conserving ammo but often proved a tricky task as I was caught twice trying to impersonate a ninja. Third time I was successful and was helped out by another mine placed in a certain area. The game was multiple and creative ways to dispose of your enemies other than shooting and stealth kills. So with the mine placed nearby and me with a bottle, I threw the glass bottle near the mine which altered a nearby haunted. Now, haunted don’t set off mines but me throwing another bottle at the mine does, a great way to dispose of one or multiple enemies if you’re out of ammo. Another way to defeat foes if you’re out of ammo is to craft bolts for your Agony Crossbow. A powerful weapon with a host of brilliantly fiendish crossbow bolts ranging from explosive, electric and freeze bolts turning your foes into ice.
Two things came to me during my play through that proved that not only must you fear your enemy, the haunted but the world itself. The game world had many tricks up its sleeve other than mines and trip wires. As I walked up a corridor I soon fell to the ground and was being pulled into a giant grinder at the end of the corridor. Thinking first “holy S**t” I tried to gather at my panicked state, how to stop the grinder. I died the first time and on the second play through I learned that shooting a certain glowing object above the grinder will stop it. I reminded me of Dead Space 2, when a window would break and Isaac Clarke would be sucked out, only giving him seconds to close the opening by shooting the shutter down.
The world around me was dangerous and on a constant mission to kill me by any means. This made the progression ever so nerve-racking as I didn’t know what to expect around the corner. Finding the two last brains, one of them behind a secret door unlocked by opening a safe filled with guts (I don’t know, its mental), I was able to unlock the giant door near the entrance.
Before I reached the door, the ultimate evil appears, Ruvik. An unstoppable foe who can end your life with one strike. As I outran him to the giant door, his relentless nature and brutal rage was something inhuman for a character and brilliant as an enemy. I was safe, walking through the door and down another long corridor to find what I was looking for, until. Ruvik showed up once again, walking towards me with an engulfing darkness around him. As he approached, the lights went out and my time with the demo was over.
The game holds high hopes for those who played and loved the older style survival horror games with the increasing tension and brutal gameplay that will put any good gamer through their paces. The Evil Within looks to be a hit for the horror genre and hopefully bring back the glory days of good old survival horror.