Shinji Mikami is well known to survival/horror fanatics, because he is survival/horror. To many, he’s the human embodiment of the term, as he created the revolutionary and iconic Resident Evil. Over the years, the niche genre has started to fade and twist; many games that claim to be “survival/horror,” including entries in the famed RE franchise, have felt more like action. Now, Mikami steps up and tries to remind everyone that in fact, the industry still has room for slower-paced yet absolutely terrifying experiences.
Mikami acknowledged the lack of true survival/horror titles on the market; as a result, he started work on The Evil Within, a creepy, freaky adventure that should be an homage to the olden days of horror. The game stars detective Sebastian, who must investigate a strange and terrible force that appears to be invading the human world. Something very dark and very bad is lurking around the corner, and the protagonist – along with a partner – will have to somehow survive and unravel the mystery. Dubbed as a “pure” survival/horror game, fans of the series should be excited.
For control, we’ll get the standard over-the-shoulder third-person camera, which worked exceedingly well in Resident Evil 4. Movement should be relatively straightforward, as the classic “tank” controls are now a thing of the past. However, this isn’t about running-and-gunning; it’s about struggling to survive, which means that every bullet counts. As you might expect, ammunition will be limited, and there will be times when you’re simply not equipped to handle a fearsome denizen of the night. Given the grotesque imagery you will encounter, being ill-equipped is gonna be extremely unsettling.
Obviously, that’s the point. Your environment will play on your nerves and emotions; it’s designed to rattle you. Keeping your cool, proceeding with caution, and being on the lookout for both enemies and traps will keep you alive. Tango Gameworks is even incorporating some stealth elements, because staying quiet is another key to survival. Maybe you can’t take on that giant freak with a chainsaw but if you’re very careful, you can sneak past without alerting him. You’ll have access to a standard pop-up inventory ring but for the most part, the developers are trying to create the most immersive atmosphere possible.
For the record, there is no multiplayer planned for the title, although Mikami has hinted that his team might experiment with asynchronous multiplayer reminiscent of Dark Souls. And yes, we’ll be able to move and shoot at the same time, so it’s not like they’re trying to bring us back in time. They’re not saying everything was better in the old days ‘cuz clearly, that isn’t true. They’re simply taking a fantastic concept that has started to ebb, and utilizing the modified idTech 5 engine to realize their vision. If the game is successful, publisher Bethesda wants Tango to turn this into a series.
Is it the new Resident Evil? Will the latter simply go the way of Dead Space and appeal almost exclusively to mainstream gamers, most of whom have never even played a pure survival/horror title? Maybe. But remember one thing: Unlike other companies that will remain nameless, these guys understand that while they’re embracing an “old” premise and style, there’s no need to revert to old technology. Perhaps The Evil Within will indeed mark the resurrection of survival/horror. It’ll be a challenge but at the very least, they’ve got the right man for the job.
2/6/2014 Ben Dutka