I have no doubt that The Evil Within will likely become a scary, atmospheric game worthy of Shinji Mikami’s namesake. That’s coming, I’m sure of it.
What I saw today at PAX East, though, was anything but. It wasn’t bad, and I’m not willing to write this game off based on what I saw, but the demo was hardly exciting enough to stand tall amongst all the wonderful big and small games here at the show.
The Evil Within was played in front of a room of what had to be 50 PAX attendees. Folks who stood in line for a while in order to catch a 15 minute-ish demo. It was eyes-on only, and it featured a full section of walking through a scripted city collapsing and another section of fighting the same bad guy again and again and again.
Let’s start with the good stuff, though. The game looks great in motion, and there are plenty of particles floating about to give the world that little extra push of creep and grime. It moves like a classic third-person survival horror effort. The main character, Detective Sebastian Castellanos, moves slowly, is stiff and seems to be feeling the weight of what’s going on around him.
It looks very much like a game Mikami would make, which is good news.
Castellanos, however, wasn’t very reactive to the world around him. A bus drops off a cliff in front of his face, and he doesn’t flinch or budge. A building sinks into the earth and Castellanos plods along, unaffected. That made the scripted scenario that we dripped through at the onset that much more static and boring.
Then we got to the interior of some sort of dark, dank, wet and steamy environment. Now, instead of dealing with heavily scripted spaces, our demo driver was forced to fight the same enemy again and again. Literally. Over the course of several minutes and the rest of the demo, our driver moved about, turning valves and fighting the waves of the same hulking beast.
Then it ended.
Look, I try to walk away from previews with a positive mentality. I refuse to assume the worst about a game based on 15 minutes of play. However, Bethesda and Tango Gameworks picked an awfully boring and repetitive 15 minutes to show off at a convention of fans.
The Evil Within is set to hit the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC platforms on Aug. 28, 2014. I assume the rest of the game plays out more fun than these two sections did. Why they didn’t show us that stuff, I’m not sure.