The Evil Within, brainchild of Shinji Makami (of Resident Evil fame), is looking to revitalize the Survival Horror genre by making survival a very unlikely outcome. Oddly, this fits in nicely with the idea of making a "true" survival horror game, where the player defies overwhelming odds to escape a house of evil monsters. While ammunition and other resources are scarce, so you'll have to get by using your wits. This often means hiding from creatures, luring them into environmental traps, or making a run for it when it looks like you're doomed.
I got a chance to put my survival skills to the test during the E3 2014 demo, and quickly discovered that not only is ammunition hard to come by, shooting can be unreliable. Head shots don't always kill enemies, and downed creatures don't always stay dead unless you light them on fire with matches (another scarce item). I started my journey outside of a building with two shots left in a shotgun, which I quickly used up by indulging my instinct to shoot shambling zombies. Luckily, one of them dropped some ammunition and I made my way into a house.
Inside, I found a room with a small handful of resources and a patient in the corner. Just then a monster came bursting in and I greeted it with shotgun blast, and finished it by lighting it up with a match. A short cut scene followed, where at character named Ruvik, who I chased down a hallway, despite how the doctor accompanying me warned me not to. Making terrible decisions for the sake of plot is all part of the horror experience, after all.
Reality shifted and I found myself in an abandoned hallway. I followed it towards a door, and the hallway extended itself a few times. I've seen this movie before, so I wasn't exactly surprised when stepping through the door transported me a madness montage that ultimately dropped me into a pool of murky, fetid water.
This is some sort of warehouse basement, where pulling a lever causes dismembered corpses to fall from a chute. Exploring can be difficult given the game's darkness combined with the film grain effect. The character, Sebastian, has a lantern hooked onto his hip, but it doesn't help all that much. There was a small room in the back with a walkway suspended above. It's difficult to see gaps in the walkways, so I ended up falling through the same opening a couple of times, since there doesn't appear to be a jump button.
I dispensed a couple small explosive barrels that would probably have made some nice traps, but couldn't figure out how to pick them up and move them. I ended up trying kicking them into place like extremely volatile soccer balls. That's when I tried to exit the basement and Ruvik appeared again to block off the door and summon monsters to kill me. I set off the traps I laid and took out few of them, but there more appeared and shambled my way.
The last of my shotgun and pistol ammunition was used to take out a handful of them, but two large zombies remained. I threw my only grenade at one of them, which knocked it over, but otherwise did shockingly little damage. It got back up and chased me again. With no option remaining, I turned to using the Agony Crossbow, which is described as a weapon of last resort. That's probably because the materials required for its special bolts (which include jars of green upgrade goo) are very hard to come by, but I have to say, the weapon is extremely effective. I used my only two explosive bolts to make short work of the remaining monsters.
The basement exit became unblocked, and it opened to a narrow hallway. At the end of it was a small room with ceramic tiles for walls. Entering it triggers an event where the thin, pale, woman sitting in the middle screams, then transforms into a giant spider lady and starts munching on a nearby corpse. There are some enemies in The Evil Within that cannot be fought, even if I had any ammunition left to spend on it. My only option was to run, and it was about then that I realized I would soon perish.
Still, I ran down the corridor and found a side room. There were a couple bullets in the corner and a ladder on the opposite end. I went for the bullets, and the delay was enough for the spider lady to catch up with me. She swiped at me and knocked me over. I tried to make my way down the ladder, but she swiped each time I tried to climb down. I was caught in a loop, and I knew the end was inevitable. She finally grabbed hold of me, used two of her many arms to pin me down, and two more to punch my face until it caved inward. Next time, forget about the bullets. Or move faster. Lesson learned.
As a person who grew up watching all kinds of horror movies, I can't really say whether or not this demo managed to scare me. However, there were plenty of moments when I was filled with a sense of dread and impending doom. It comes when you're backed into a corner with several zombies closing in on you, and you realize you have no bullets left, no gadgets to exploit, and nowhere left to run. In that case, it's almost a relief when a spider lady pummels your face in.
The Evil Within releases for the PC, Xbox, and PlayStation systems on October 21st.