Oh, do I love me some horror. Most gamers probably scoff at the idea of going into a game environment made to illicit fear, but for me, there’s something enjoyable and satisfying about it. For me, the experience of running around a hazy warren of death and mayhem, dark corridors saturated in grime and mystery, or simply moving about an old house with a shady past is sort of a fantasy of mine, though it’s waned as I’ve grown older. Still, a good horror game with omnipresent mystery and intrigue is very attractive to me.
I agree with Mikami-san: today’s views of Survival Horror are less “horror”, or “survival”. My outings with Dead Space and the most recent Silent Hill haven’t given me much to sink my teeth into. In fact, besides Amnesia: The Dark Decent, the closest thing to a survival horror game that I’ve enjoyed and found creepy in recent years is Lone Survivor, a 2D side-scrolling horror game that infuses muddy, dark imagery, where you play a man trapped in a derelict city full of infected, corpse-like monstrosities, with strange shifts in reality that cause you to question the nature of your surroundings. It’s not a new formula, but it still holds wel.
Under the banner of Tango Gameworks, which was acquired in October of 2010 by Zenimax, Mikami is hoping to pull off a triple-A title that returns to the roots of survival/horror. Announced as project “Zwei” back in 2012, their upcoming The Evil Within is Mikami’s vision to do just that.
Though the teaser trailer offers no real preview, being a sort of art-house horror flick involving nothing but images of various monstrous bipeds stalking dark, grungy corridors and various humanoid creatures lurking in the dark, the tone is apparent, or at least the direction they’re aiming for.
Mikami expressed that he wanted the game to balance action and horror in a way that was both fun, intriguing, and terrifying. It won’t be too scary to drive away gamers, but it’ll never be too safe to make it boring or repetitive, crafting an effective survival experience that leaves you breathless, yet feeling triumphant in the face of adversity.
The idTech 5 engine powers it, though heavily modified, (“Tango-Stylized” as the staff put it), to complement the game’s nature.
A press preview recently spoke of the story surrounding The Evil Within, stating that it took place in an old, run-down asylum where you play one of three detectives sent to respond to a call there. Arriving on the scene you’ll be met with by a group of abandoned police vehicles, with mary a sign of life or struggle to be found. Entering the facility, you find grizzly images of death, bodies of the asylum’s staff and the police officers lining the walls. Found security footage depicts these horrible acts before you’re knocked unconscious and drug to an unknown location. From there, the game begins to expand upon things both horrific and at times seemingly metaphysical as the world slowly shifts this way and that.
Far be it for me to say that Mikami can’t deliver on a truly terrifying scenario, though I can’t speak for Resident Evil’s track record. His ideas behind the design of RE4 at least held water long enough to be enjoyed thoroughly before the scenario became overused in the subsequent installments.
I want to believe in the Bethesda/Zenimax brand a great deal, to be honest. With id Software under that umbrella now, one can hope that everything will be great for everyone If nothing else, Shinji Mikami may very well push the kind of standard we as older games grew up with in the earlier days of Horror/Survival.
The Evil Within in 2014.