My Bethesda booth tour started with a clip of the Evil Within, a new survival horror game being developed by Tango Gameworks and directed by Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame.
The footage started with a cut scene from the beginning of the game. Detective Sebastian had been dispatched to a mental asylum to respond to a distress call from other police. When he gets there, he find that all of the cops have vanished - leaving only empty cars behind.
Once inside, its obvious that something terrible had happened, as bodies litter the floor. After looking for survivors, Sebastian spies a security camera monitor. On it, three cops are seen madly firing at a subject off screen - until a frakenstien-esque madman appears and kills them all. Startled, Sebastian quickly turns around and the monster is right behind him - and it knocks him unconscious.
Sebastian finally comes to in game, where he finds himself chained upside down in a horrible mad butcher's chiller. A huge hulking beast is cutting up hunks of human and is coming for Sebastian next. By swinging to another trussed up corpse, he was able to free himself and try to escape. This was done through a cinematic stealth mechanic, where Sebastian hid himself in the shadows and worked his away around the beast.
All of this was delivered by way of the grimy, dirty aesthetic of the game, and compounded by a claustrophobic level design and some truly disturbing experiences. For example, after being discovered by the mad butcher, Sebastian runs into a room only to have the butcher flip a switch which sets two massive walls of whirling spikes careening together. In a panic, he needed to make it out of the room before being made into mincemeat.
That kind of Saw-like horror appears to be at the center of the game, and it clearly shows in the title's design and implementation. Being a third person survival horror it's also obvious that a lot of attention has been paid to how Sebastian moves, talks, and interacts with his environment. The early footage I saw was promising.
The second part of the demo showed off the combat that players will experience. This was a little more traditional, with Sebastian blasting away zombies with a pistol and also trying to blow them up with exploding bear traps. The Resident Evil influence was strong here. There were clear similarities between the fighting in The Evil Within and the zombie takedowns in Racoon City.
However, the gameplay footage also displayed the second theme to title - its psychological horror. When racing away from the zombies, Sebastian went into a room; when he came out again the world had changed. The zombies had disappeared and he was now in an endless corridor.
This seemingly random change of environment was surreal and very confusing. A classic staple of the Japanese horror genre, its clear that Shinji Mikami is attempting to make The Evil Within as emotionally horrific as he can - as well presenting the experience in a visually scary way.
From the gameplay footage that I saw, it looks like the Evil Within is going to be a polished title that horror game fans will love. And with Shinji Mikami's fingerprints all over it, they should be expecting a bedwettingly scary experience - with a decent combat mechanic to boot.
Pros: Bedwettingly scary