Recently we were able to get some play time with The Evil Within, a horror survival game from Bethesda and Japanese studio Tango Gameworks.  Directed by Shinji Mikami, best known for the Resident Evil series is therefore no stranger when it comes to this genre. His other works include Vanquish and Ace Attorney. Before acquisition by ZeniMax Media, Mikami owned his own studio,Tango Gameworks.

The horror survival genre is one of those gaming black spots, it can either go right, or horribly wrong leaving gamers feeling disappointed. So let’s see where The Evil Within lies.

The story behind The Evil Within is one of murder and intrigue. You play as Detective Sebastian Castellanos who witnessed the gruesome murder of his fellow officers by what can only be described as an evil force. Attacked and unconscious Sebastian wakes to find himself in a world where the dead now roam, lead by this evil entity. You now must fight back the fear and claw your way through to the bitter end of this mindbending mystery.

Now that I have set the scene for you, it’s time to delve into what we experienced on the day. There were two demo builds available to play, both of which are going to be playable at E3 this year. On both builds you are able to set your own difficulty level, so I chose one of the higher settings, Survival mode. Each build represents a different level from the game and each one took me around an hour to get through.

The first level saw me heading towards an old asylum, and my first impression is of a total horror movie atmosphere with dark surroundings, fog, and old buildings in the distance. You can explore the entire map with no set path on which to stay. This lead me to my first encounter, a mad doctor hacking up bodies. No sooner had he spot me, he attacked. I died, in fact I died a lot in my time with the game as it’s challenging in so many ways. For instance, in other games you shoot the enemy a number of times and they fall down dead. They also fall down in The Evil Within, but as they are already dead they get back up coming at you again and again. You have to either set them on fire or completely blow their head off in order to kill them. Setting them on fire is a simple matter of running over to them once down and striking a match, this is fine until you run out of matches, and then ammo, so your only option is to run and run fast.

This however, creates another problem, the whole place is full of traps that trigger an explosion or take your head off. You have to be aware of your surroundings at all times, even when trying to get away. These traps can be useful though, by either ducking under them and allowing the enemies to take the hit, or dismantling them and using the part to construct arrows for your Agony Bow. You can construct all manner of these arrows including shock, explosion and freeze, all of which do exactly as the name suggests. Another way to avoid detection is to hide, you can hide under beds, in wardrobes and under tables, quietly sneaking out to take down the enemy stealthily. Puzzles are also a main stay in the game, a few of which I experienced on the day. The one that stands out most for me is the brain puzzle as I call it. In order to open a specific door you must locate 3 severed heads mounted on experimenting tables, all of which have the brain exposed. You then have to place electric probes carefully into the correct spot to open each of the locks on the door. These puzzles also increase in difficulty depending on what mode you play the game in, which adds to the experience for seasoned gamers, or helps out new players of the genre.

From time to time the evil entity appears and you have no choice but to run and escape it as it follows you at a steady pace sending shivers through your spine. The horror genre would be nothing without a few scares here and there, and this is what I wanted to get from the day. If I am totally honest, the game delivered. One part in particular stands out, one which sees you being chased by what I can only describe as a head with arms. This enemy had to be evaded by me running through a dank dark corridor. Avoiding traps I made it to the elevator, on my third attempt. Relieved that I had finally passed her I breath a sigh of relief, only to have her suddenly appear as the elevator door opened, making me jump a little.

The Evil Within has much more to it’s gameplay, both in terms of depth and complexity than I have touched upon above. It portrays an atmosphere of pure spine chilling horror, one that has had me thinking of this game ever since I played it. With moments of fear, anticipation, bloody violence, and a constant feeling of being watch or followed, it has restored my faith in this genre. What I played on the day, even still with months left in the development stage, was a polished, gripping and tense game. A game that we should all be eagerly awaiting, and I have no doubt we all will be once the public get their hands on it at this years E3. Forget all that have come before us in this genre, and think of this a rebirth, a new beginning that will bring fear back to our favourite gaming platforms.

We can now also announce that the new date for the release of The Evil Within is October 24th.

The video below is not representative of the levels played on the day!