Environmental Horror in The Evil Within

The evil without.

The survival horror genre has evolved in multiple directions since Resident Evil popularized it on the PlayStation nearly 20 years ago, but the man responsible for that series, Shinji Mikami, is ready to bring it back to its roots with his latest game, The Evil Within. Earlier this year, he said: “I want to explore fear again, and that sense of overcoming fear, one that's unique to games." Based on a pair of demos being shown at PAX East, it seems that he’s once again using the environment to inspire fear and discomfort on the hearts of players.

Like Resident Evil’s mansion and Resident Evil 2’s Racoon City, The Evil Within makes use of space, or a lack thereof, to induce stress. As the player walked around a large city--one of two environments demoed at Bethesda’s booth--everything seemed peaceful thanks to open spaces, but the city began to constantly shift in all directions and was anything but comforting. City blocks rose and fell without warning, and alleyways shrunk with each step. In the span of one block, he went from a sprint to a stressful shuffle through a gap less than a foot wide, and I wondered if his next step was to be his last before the buildings on either side turned Sebastian, the distraught protagonist, into a human sandwich. Then, just when he made it out into open space, the street began to slide underground, and when it finally settled, a school bus plummeted into the pavement mere feet from where he stood.

Eventually, the city settled into its own and enemies began to appear. Blood-thirsty, zombie-like urbanites and firefighters lurched and moaned at Sebastian, and occasionally fired weapons, too. With enough firepower, which didn’t appear to be in short supply during the demo, they were easily brought to their knees, but lest they reanimated, he immolated them with a lit match before treading onward.

Once the second half of the demo began, taking place in a dank and foggy medical facility, he tangoed with massive, mutilated juggernauts. These beasts, whose bodies are wrapped in barbed-wire and heads enclosed in heavy safes, only fell after five direct hits from a shotgun. Of course, they handily absorbed the first four shots, walking ever closer with their massive, spiked clubs. Given the hospital’s tight spaces, it seemed all too easy to get backed into a corner. These situations recalled the cat and mouse dynamic that’s bound to be familiar to Resident Evil veterans.

Open and tight spaces alike choreographed moments of calm and intensity during the demo, but even when tranquility set in, there’s always something, or someone, waiting around the bend. It’s clear to see that this is Mikami returning to his roots, but while The Evil Within recalls Resident Evil, it doesn’t feel derivative or too familiar either. For all the flack Resident Evil fans gave the latest game in the series, there’s a fair chance they’ll find what they’re looking for in The Evil Within when it ships later this year.

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doc-brown

Peter Brown

Peter is an Editor at GameSpot who's passionate about gaming hardware and game preservation.

PAX East 2014

PAX East 2014
51 comments
GabrielX-X
GabrielX-X

I'm sure this game will be scary and good game, but the model animations is kinda weird. Models acting like robot with skiped frame rate to me.I'm not sure about that Tech 5 engine, it doesnt fit for this game. I wished that engine should be frostbite 3 or like Resident evil 3.5 engine, this game still has very very awsome graphic, I mean look at the leons model and the animations in Re4 3.5.

grenadehh
grenadehh

Are we all ignoring that there's an Umbrella logo in the beginning and the video is purposely meant to look like it says Racoon Mental Hospital?

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

This game already has me loosing sleep and it hasn't even came out yet, about time!!!!!

sohail5566
sohail5566

seriously am i the only one who wants to see a gameplay come on gamespot just show us a gameplay

Brakkyn
Brakkyn

"it’s seemed all to get backed into a corner" - grammar.

On topic: I see a lot of talk about Resident Evil, and I must confess I have only played half (Leon's playthrough) of Resident Evil 2 for the Nintendo 64--obviously ages ago.

grenadehh
grenadehh

All I see are bad RE4 graphics. Capcom isn't developing this so why is it literally using the RE4 engine? And I'm talking PC RE4 port, not RE4 HD - the worst of the litter. Worse than the PS2 graphics it was ported from. Seriously like, it's bad. I'm not a graphics whore but what the fuck is this?

CTR360
CTR360

looks gorgeous i buy the ps4 version i cant wait i have faith on father of survivor horror games sinji mikami

Fenixx
Fenixx

I've seen what this game has to offer and I'm still not impressed.  The streets and buildings closing around you and vehicles falling where you were...sounds a lot like an Uncharted game or any other modern action thing.  It's another scripted sequence to add to what I've already seen.  Scripted scenarios in games are not scary.

I also realize it was a demo but still "With enough firepower, which didn’t appear to be in short supply..."  Again, it's sounding more like an action game.  Making the character too capable takes away any sort of fear of the enemies.  If you don't fear the enemies, there's a big chunk of the horror that's completely gone.

In my opinion, this game looks way too much like Resident Evil 4, which is a very bad thing.  Yes, it was a good game, but people seem to ignore the fact that it's also the game that killed the survival horror genre.  I'm not going to go into a bunch of detail as to why since I don't want to turn this post into a book or anything, but it's basically for the reasons I've already mentioned.  The character was too capable, it had a more action focus, etc.

I hope for the best with this game but so far I haven't seen any actual survival horror.

Neo_OnionKnight
Neo_OnionKnight

Really been waiting to get a fix on my horror cravings. It's been too long since I've played a decent horror game...

Also the clip showed a creature with a beer bottle...I don't take any supernatural creature seriously if it has a beer bottle in its hand....



Jasper_73
Jasper_73

finally a survival horror that looks good. I havent played a good one since Deadspace 1

evin777
evin777

I loved outlast very much let's see what this one will do.....

Printul_Noptii
Printul_Noptii

This game has been on my radar for a while now and I am really very curious how it will turn out but damn the graphics in the new trailer look worse than in the previous demo, I really hope its early stuff thou. Shinji Mikami is a very creative mind similar to Metal Gears Kojima or Ninja Gaidens Itakagi so the potential is there, this just needs polished graphics and good gameplay and it will be awesome as the creepyness seems to be there.

gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

The environment is a cross over between early RE and silent hill games combat's a lot like RE4 and overall the game seems scary.in short I'm willing to forgive the dull textures and will probably enjoy the game.

saintofanarchy
saintofanarchy

It's still too early to judge but I really do like what I've seen so far. I'm sure this game will have some good scares and hopefully the right mix of combat and survival. This is Mikami's chance to give the finger to Capcom and prove he knows what he's doing. 

chechak7
chechak7

silent hell + resident evil 

BamaGoatt
BamaGoatt

Looking forward to this daylight and dying light hope all 3 live up to the hype.

cashincontrol
cashincontrol

That video looked ridiculously choppy but I'm sure a Bethesda project will look much more gorgeous upon release. I've been following this game a lot  more over the last few months, I hope it doesn't bomb.

youre_a_sheep
youre_a_sheep

"With enough firepower, which didn’t appear to be in short supply during the demo, they were easily brought to their knees"

Uh oh.  I do NOT want gunplay to be a substantial element of this game.  Hopefully that's just one section and not representative of the experience.  There's a big difference between fearing an empty gun and fearing what's after me.

Xenro4
Xenro4

Well the vision is there. Now we just have to see if it turns out as great as we hope. One of my most anticipated games. The idea of a city where you don't know what will jump out at you is pretty neat. Reminds me of Raccoon city when Nemesis flew through the window and scared my pants off.

aleks_989
aleks_989

I was very excited for this game and I still am, but this trailer has way more downsized graphics than the previous one. Maybe it's running on Xbox 360 or PS3, or hell, the game is still in development, but it looks cheap. I am talking about the graphics only. I hope this gets the quality it deserves. After all, it's a horor game, and what better way to be than show us the most realistic scenery possible.

platinumking320
platinumking320

Well. I'm feeling positive about this. Hope it comes out well.

dialtech
dialtech

Sick! Bethesda and the creator of the original Resident Evil working together is a great combination. The new face of horror. 

Holy-Rapture
Holy-Rapture

You mean, he was almost a.. Sebastian sandwich. ;D YES!

mikebell1983
mikebell1983

Shinji Mikami knows that the resident evil series went to shit and is beyond saving at this point. Its good he's taking the genre back to it's roots

stage4saiyan
stage4saiyan

I'm hoping this and Devil's Third are both great games. I'd love for Mikami and Itagaki to give a big "fuck you" to their respective ex-developers.

yeah_28
yeah_28

"but lest they reanimated, he immolated them with a lit match before treading onward"

I like hearing this since it worked well in REmake but that was a pure survival horror game with non linearity and actual choice, if in this game the enemies are so bothersome and capable that you cant run away, and there are no alternatives paths to take, burning the bodies is going to be a chore.

The mention of a large city and open spaces is also very refreshing for me to hear since most reviews I read so far talked about linear corridors.

Also Peter, thumbs up for writing "human sandwich" in the article ;)

freedom01
freedom01 moderator

sounds great, really have high hopes for this game

doc-brown
doc-brown moderator staff

@Brakkyn  Wow. I have no idea what happened there. 

mattress805
mattress805

I agree. I can't wait to play this. I loved playing through Outlast on the ps4

mattress805
mattress805

Silent hill + resident evil = awesome.

BamaGoatt
BamaGoatt

@chechak7  I only played the first 2 resident evil games never played silent hill but will take your word for it.

gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

Daylight looks dull.SOMA and dying light do look interesting.

gremdude1
gremdude1

Play outlast then! If you look at the original Resident evil and Silent hill games, you have TONS of ammo if you play on easy. I am sure if you play this game on hard, the ammo will be scarce

grenadehh
grenadehh

@Pelezinho777  Thank you someone else who recognizes how god awful the game looks. Straight out of 2004. Terrible textures, looks just like RE4 on PC. The hair especially - no effort whatsoever to use modern hair meshes or at least bump mapping to make it seem like it isn't from the PS2 era.


As for Rambo, no. Sorry. Graphics  in this game won't make a 2-generation leap all of a sudden before it comes out.

Rambolike
Rambolike

@Pelezinho777 When people post negative comments like yours without even seeing the finished product, I know I'm dealing with someone who's never done a single creative thing in their lives. I can guarantee that you have never done anything inventive, save play video games and eat KFC.  Get a life.

korvus
korvus moderator

@aleks_989  For me it's not so much the graphics as the animations; they look so clunky and outdated.

zillaman101
zillaman101

@aleks_989 I don't care about the graphics as much as if it's going to be a classic horror experience. I hope it lives up to real classics like silent hill and resident evil.

gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

Looking forward to the "you were almost a Sebastian sandwich" achievement.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@gamefreak215jd  Daylight looks amazing but it will turn out disappointing like Dead Island, due to some technical implementations. 

grenadehh
grenadehh

@gremdude1  A) There is no easy on RE1. On RE2 there is, not 1. In 1 there is hardly any ammo ever.

aleks_989
aleks_989

@zillaman101 @aleks_989  I'm with you on that, but when we have the power of next-gen consoles and PC, why not go for the best possible experience in everything.