Survival horror is a genre currently with two faces, and their camps are always at odds on how the medium should progress. Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within could be the bridge connecting these two splintering factions.
On one hand, big budget action games with a horror setting, like Dead Space 3 and Resident Evil 6, like their grain of horror with a healthy arsenal of weapons, enormous monsters, nearly infinite ammo, and cheap scares and thrills.
Long time fans of survival horror believe the sacrifice of the “survival” half of the equation removes the core of what made the genre special in the first place.
To counter these big name franchises, fans and indie studios have taken to their own definition of horror and given more psychological and atmospheric horror games a small comeback. Fatal Frame, Silent Hill and Clock Tower are the classics, but in recent years, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is most famous for reinvigorating this sense of hopelessness. On the horizon lie the likes of Outlast and Routine.
I still can’t tell which category The Evil Within one will fall into yet. There is a lot of blood, over the shoulder viewpoint, and obvious reliance on guns to solve the heaviest of situations. However, the immersion and downright horrific atmosphere give a sense that this game is more than just a typical zombie romp.
Blood and gore can still be terrifying if given the proper treatment, and I wouldn’t put it past Mikami and the immersion experts at Bethesda to pass up on an opportunity like this. After all, Resident Evil used to be scary, too. Consider me intrigued.
The Evil Within will launch for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC next year. The Japanese title is Psychobreak, and it could mark the first time Bethesda strikes a runaway success in Japan with a superstar like Mikami on the roster.