Videogame: The Evil Within
The Evil Within
I'll admit it: I was scared. It was just after midnight and I was possibly a little too immersed in The Evil Within - its haunting score, chilling surroundings and frightening creatures. And somewhere around the point where the chainsaw-wielding maniac started chasing me through the haunted mental hospital's barren halls, it all became a little too much.
It's taken me a while to truly play and review The Evil Within, mostly because of how effectively it achieves its goal: to frighten the living hell out of those who play it. Its creator, Shinji Mikami, is considered a god among horror gamers, having created the original genre-forming Resident Evil and its sequels.
And after a decade away from the world he's finally returned. The fans asked for it, so this time round, he's given them everything at once.
Aesthetically The Evil Within feels like a mashup between his last masterpiece, 2005's action-heavy Resident Evil 4, and the surreal worlds of rival series Silent Hill. On a much deeper level, the game is like a greatest hits of horror.
Within its grainy, dimly lit perspective, The Evil Within runs the gamut of its many sub-genres: surreal and supernatural, grindhouse and artsy foreign, haunted house and silly slashers. And then there are the skewed horror gaming clichés: your gun is nearly impossible to aim, stealth rarely works, ammunition and health boosts are constantly in short supply, and even on "casual" level, it feels incredibly difficult.
It is, for those not clouded by gaming's history or stuck within its hype, the meta- Resident Evil. A postmodern approach to horror gaming, clever and cunning with just enough of horror's strongest facets to keep a player's interest while never forgetting its true purpose: to scare the wits out of you.
And that it does, quite often and straight from the get-go. But only as the story progresses and gamers become accustomed to the many shocks does it start to become slightly stale. Horror has a short shelf-life, no matter how much you try to frontload it with meta-takes on the genre, and despite Mikami's many clever attempts, it can't be sustained through 15 chapters of gameplay.
Nevertheless, Mikami and company have twisted together a shrewd take on a rather outdated genre while instilling it with enough frights and nostalgic thrills to keep all manner of players happy.