Tango Gameworks' The Evil Within will dabble with the supernatural, the gory and the nerve-rackingly suspenseful, based on a demo shown to Polygon at a recent pre-E3 event.
The game, led by developer Shinji Mikami, who is best known for his work on the Resident Evil series and Vanquish, aims to be a "pure form of survival horror," Mikami said in a recent interview in Famitsu. Rather than focus on action, Mikami wants The Evil Within to be more horror-oriented with "a creeping sense of terror."
In the first 15 minutes of the game demoed to Polygon, the tone of The Evil Within was set through a series of gory cutscenes, eerie corridors and the main character's supernatural visions and teleportation to zombie-filled places. The game opens with detective Sebastian Castellanos arriving at an asylum where a massacre has apparently taken place. Upon arrival, Castellanos notices that all the police cars at the scene are empty and there is no one in sight. He enters the asylum to find bloodied corpses all over the floor. Making his way to a room with screens showing footage from the asylum's security cameras, he sees a ghost-like creature on screen who can teleport and turn invisible. This creature proceeds to gruesomely murder the police officers who had arrived earlier. The demo then flashes to a scene where the camera switches to the first-person and Castellanos is hanging upside down next to battered and beaten corpses, while a deranged butcher stands in an adjacent room dismembering body parts.
"It is this 'subtle, anxious, shapeless, unknowable sort of fear' that the game developers want to invoke."
The player, who is controlling Castellanos, must free himself from the ropes and, switching back into the third-person view, sneakily steal a set of keys from the butcher and escape the asylum. These early moments in the game — which exhibit influences from other survival horror titles like Silent Hill — are tense and fear-inducing, especially when the player is chased by the butcher and has to hide inside lockers and behind walls in the hope of not being discovered. The suspense is compounded by the game's use of music and silence. In parts of the asylum, the rooms are so quiet that the player can only hear the character's footsteps.
Speaking to Polygon, Tango Gamework's producer Masato Kimura said the game instills in the player a sense of uncertainty, and it is this "subtle, anxious, shapeless, unknowable sort of fear" that the game developers want to invoke. Players don't immediately understand why there is a human butcher in the basement of the asylum, they don't know who or what brutally murdered its inhabitants, and Kimura says that this lack of understanding is what feeds some of that fear.
Upon escaping the asylum, players find that the city surrounding the building has collapsed, and where the police cars once parked in the asylum's driveway, they are now at the bottom of massive pit. Buildings in the distance have fallen and are crumpled.
According to Kimura, the game will take place in different locations. Referencing the collapsed city, he said the studio is not making a "typical survival horror" — instead, it is "trying to add those things [like a collapsed city] to make a unique universe."
The demo we were shown ended in a Resident Evil-like scene with Castellanos being transported to what appeared to be an abandoned cabin in the woods. Here, he faced hordes of zombies and had to take them out with whatever weapons he had, as well as strategically laying down traps and bombs to manage the zombie horde.
The Evil Within is currently in development for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows PC. A release date has not been announced.