The Evil Within and Shinji Mikami's quest for cold-sweat horror

The Evil Within the Shinji Mikami-directed horror game that finally made its real public debut two weeks ago is not screwing around when it comes to its mission. Mikami and the rest of the team at Tango Gameworks are after one thing with this game: Make it scary as possible.

"When you're faced with a scary atmosphere around you and a scary-looking enemy appears, that's scary, right?" the director told Famitsu magazine in this week's issue. "We're trying to create just the right mixture of elements to make that happen."

"We're taking advantage of the aspects of light and darkness that instinctively put fear into people's minds," added art director Naoki Katakai. "Lighting is always important for something like this; you can set it up to invite the player and create places that he'd be afraid to ever come near. We'd like them to feel a very physiological sort of repulsion. That, and we're also going for spatially-oriented situations, like how it's scary if an enemy confronts you in a confined place."

As revealed earlier, The Evil Within begins in the modern day with Sebastian Castellanos and his partner Joseph Oda dispatched to a mental hospital where a massacre has apparently occurred. Things quickly unravel from there, however.

"The game starts out as a modern drama, then becomes this world where you really can't tell whether it's reality or not," Mikami said. "You have situations that couldn't happen in reality, so overall it's a very mysterious and therefore creepy game. Having a companion with you helps flesh out the story, but in a horror game, if you've always got a friend nearby, that's not very scary. I want players to enjoy the horror by themselves as much as I can. If a friend is nearby, usually it's when you're in some kind of danger and you have to work together to survive. This game divides up its scenes between scary situations like that, and those there the horror is borne from the fact that you're alone."

Katakai, who previously worked on Resident Evil 4, Okami and more, is just as dedicated to creating creepy visuals as Mikami seems to be. "The visuals are going to have an impact that goes beyond anything before it," he stated. "We'll have a lot of neat stuff to show off going forward. The designs aren't meant to look pretty or cool; they're meant to be scary. There's a fair number of them, too, and what's unique about this game, is that there's a number of variations in how you can defeat them."

By variations, he's talking in part about the traps you'll run into along the way. "There are two types," explained director Masato Kimura. "One type is already set up and can capture the player or enemies. The other type can be carried around and sprung by you or your foes. Either type, if used well, can help you defeat lots of enemies strategically while conserving ammo."

"You can also use traps lain by enemies against them," Mikami added. "You might be able to use guns in close-range battles to survive, or maybe you can sneak around to avoid being noticed; that or you can strategically fight with traps. We want people to enjoy the choices involved, and as a result, you might feel there's less ammunition available than in previous games."

The Evil Within (due out, as of now anyway, for the PS3, PS4, 360 and PC) still has a lot of development left to complete, but to Mikami, the path ahead is already crystal-clear. "I want users to get so scared that their hands are in a cold sweat on the controller," he closed. "It's going to be a big title, one that's made in Japan and can appeal worldwide."

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