In response to a few recent games that appear to be lacking in the criteria. This is a short list and thoughts on some stand out game mechanics that developers seem to be ignoring and need to build upon.
Will The Evil Within Take Us Back to Survival Horror?
There has been a lot of recent hype surrounding the The Evil Within, an up and coming survival horror game that was revealed back in April 2012. The game is being developed by Tango Gameworks, a Japaneses game developer founded by Shinji Mikami, the mastermind behind the Resident Evil series. Mikami states that The Evil Within, known as Psycho Break in Japan, will take gamers back to the terrifying roots of survival horror.
The exposition of The Evil within is similar to many other horror stories . A detective named Sebastian arrives late with his partner to the scene of a mass murder on the premise of an asylum latticed with Gothic architecture. The driveway is littered with empty police cars, their lights still flashing, and naturally, something sinister awaits within. In the asylum, Sebastian witnesses a hooded figure slaughtering his fellow police officers. Sebastian himself is then attacked and loses consciousness. He wakes up hanging in a cellar, upside down on a meat hook. In the same room is a monstrous, sub human butcher in a blood soaked apron hacking up something vile with a hatchet. Sebastian must escape this unfortunate predicament by creeping around the asylum that has been transformed into a scene much similar to the other world sections of the Silent Hill games. This new world of horror is complete with rust, blood, decay, and all sorts of malevolent creatures that lust to kill, and Sebastian is not equipped with an arsenal of assault weapons to take down the beasts. Instead, he must distract them with objects lying around the room and run if discovered. He is also not a trained assassin who can sprint, jump and swing around the map, instead he moves uncertainly through the nightmare with the same limitations of any average human. Remember the way your palms would sweat and your neck tense up while playing as Heather in Silent Hill three while having multiple “dogs” attacking you? All you could do was clumsily slash the air with the knife or try to shoot off a pistol that lacked adequate ammunition.
In terms of the action in The Evil Within, this seems to be the direction Mikami is taking. This will definitely be a new look for modern survival horror games, seeing as players are now often given “excessive firepower.” Even the challenging Dead Space series gives the player quite the arsenal to take out the Necromorphs. Therefore, it would be very interesting to go back to the days when a magnum or hunting rifle was the strongest weapon in the game.
What really gives me the hope that The Evil Within is returning to the roots of survival horror is the way Mikami describes how the story unfolds. “Thematically, it’s less about having twists and turns and more about maintaining an air of mystery,” explains Mikami. “So through the story you learn a little bit more, and then a little bit more, but the more you learn, you also realize there’s far more mystery out there to unfold.” (quote taken directly from IGN, The Evil Within First look). After reading this, I had a flashback to the original Silent Hill for PlayStation back in ’99. This was a game steeped in mystery as gamers led the everyman protagonist Harry Mason through Silent Hill, a town full of fog, secrets, and the constant implication that something was horribly wrong. There were always more questions than answers with this gem, but as you explored, certain aspects were unveiled and the player could begin to piece together this horrific mystery, often leading to even more questions. The gamer really had to dedicate themselves to the story if they wanted to come away with a sense of knowledge about what they experienced. Modern horror games seem to stray away from this element of mystery and overlaying sense of fear in favor of a more straightforward story that offers the occasional plot twist and plenty of cheap scares. It is great to hear Mikami say this about The Evil Within’s story, as it really reminded me of how gripping yet horrific a game like Silent could be when shrouded in such dark mystery.
According to what Shinji Mikami is telling us, The Evil Within looks very promising to diehard survival horror fans who remember the old Silent Hill and Resident Evil games. However, the game is not due to be released until sometime in 2014. This still means there is a lot of potential for things to go array. The main question is, will The Evil Within deliver a true survival horror experience full of psychological terror and tension like Mikami states, or will it end up becoming another action packed gore fest full of cheap “jump” moments? Keep your eyes open for more news to come and check out the official trailer below. (Information courtesy of IGN, The Evil Within First Look)
The Evil Within Official Trailer