My first impressions of The Evil Within was that maybe Shinji Mikami is trolling Resi fans, in a good way, with numerous nods to his past. Then there are the other references, though. Things like Silent Hill and Texas Chainsaw that suggest, just maybe, he wants to make a really good, proper, horror game.
New The Evil Within screens & impressions
The Resi references are hard to miss though. As detective Sebastian Castellanos arrives to investigate a mysterious asylum, the police cars and flashing lights reek of Resident Evil 2′s city outbreak. Later encounters with humanoid monsters are note-for-note the Ganados knee-capping crowd management of Resident Evil 4, as is the giant wielding a chainsaw. Watching not quite human groups move through streets waving torches, or fighting them off, siege-style, within a house again scream Resi 4, while the music and collapsed roads keeping you trapped are all very Silent Hill. Oh, and you collect ‘Handgun bullets’.
It seems a competently unpleasent adventure as you move though levels designed like a serial killer’s basement – all body parts and meat hooks. A good use of shadows and view points also keep on screen clutter to a minimum. In a section where you have to avoid the pursuing chainsaw giant in a room full of bodies and bits of bodies, you never lose sight of him as you creep past window frames and gaps in the wall. The resulting sneaky stealing of a set of keys as he dismembers bodies is classic American slasher movie suspense.
The influences do appear to widen though. There’s the upside down spider armed screaming hair woman thing whose spindly contorted limbs and long black mop is a classic Japanese horror trope. Another character seems to be a supernaturally powered assassin who’s less easy to place as a sort of Matrix-y intelligent nemesis. The result though feels like it marks a pleasing return to the sticky-handled, Oh-God-why-am-I-opening-the-door horror games of old.