E3 2014: The Evil Within Preview

Ever since its announcement, The Evil Within has been a game I wanted to know more about. Developed by Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil, The Evil Within has the pedigree to be the next great horror title. With this year’s E3, I finally got a chance to sit down with the game and see for myself.

There was a constant feeling of tension as I started though the demo on the show floor at E3 2014. The Evil Within places you in a world where nothing seems as it should be. From the colour palate used to the way otherworldly environment, the game sets the player in a nightmare. Creatures look like the work of a madman, with spikes and objects thrust though every part of their bodies as they lumber towards you. The environment feels hostile and ready to strike, painting a truly unsettling landscape for horror.

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The section I decided to start with was an old house already twisted by evil. Ghosts played out moments from the past as I explored. As with any horror title, there were puzzle sections to solve before advancing. These seemed like trivial tasks; a simple obstacle involved locating different experiments around the house to open a door, but they gave the short demo a purpose.

In my mind, the real test of any good horror game is if it can make the payer feel powerless without feeling frustrated. Past games like Silent Hill did this well, presenting you with the ability to fight, though ultimately, fighting should only ever be a last resort. Thankfully, at least from the demo, The Evil Within follows this same concept. Playing on Normal, you will find very little in the way of ammo, weapons or items. The creatures you face won’t go down easily. Everything I faced took multiple shots to kill, and even after they are put down, if the corpse isn’t burned, they may rise back up.

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The real dread comes from short sections where you are forced to run. These are less frequent, yet when I encountered they were the highlight of the experience. Apparitions will chase after you, forcing you to hide in one of the many locations around the level. I found these moments reminiscent of games like Amnesia, filling you with dread and taking away any sense of power you may have had. It is nice to see a game today not give you an unstoppable arsenal. It worked to set the mood, and endures the sense of unease is ever-present.

All these elements could grow frustrating if not handled right, but in the demo, it all seemed very well paced, allowing for each section to have impact. Finally getting away from a twisted specter was as rewarding an experience as it was terrifying. The real question is can The Evil Within keep this concept for a full retail experience, and that is something that is impossible to say until it is released this fall.