Until the new Silent Hills game is officially released (which you can read about here), Bethesda’s upcoming game The Evil Within just might be the perfect fix. And based on what we’ve seen so far, the game certainly appears to exceed many of our expectations. In fact, here are five reasons why survival horror fans should be excited for The Evil Within and for the survival horror genre in general:
1. One of the greatest minds in gaming is making his return to the survival horror genre
Shinji Mikami, an icon in the gaming industry, is the lead director of The Evil Within, set for release on the 14th of October on the PS4, PS3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360. He is the creator and director of the original Resident Evil game. After the initial success of the widely popular survival horror game, he was promoted to producer and became more involved in the business side of the franchise where he oversaw several sequels. A few years later, he made the decision to step in as lead director for Resident Evil 4. Under his direction, the game incorporated some drastic changes, helping it become one of the most influential and highly rated games of all time. The game helped redefine the third-person shooter genre by introducing a “reliance on offset camera angles that fail to obscure the action.” The ‘over the shoulder’ viewpoint introduced in Resident Evil 4 has now become the standard in third-person shooters, including titles ranging from Gears of War to Batman: Arkham Asylum. It has also become a standard “precision aim” feature for action games in general, with some notable examples such as Dead Space and Mass Effect.
Mikami also created several more critically acclaimed games, such as Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Vanquish, and was the creative producer of Shadows of the Damned (2011, PS3 & Xbox 360), a highly rated action-horror game combined with some very dark, but nonetheless clever humor. Based on some of his previous survival/action horror themed games, there’s good reason to believe that The Evil Within will be an impressive game.
2. Bethesda Softworks, a titan in the gaming industry, is producing The Evil Within
Given Bethesda’s involvement, many gamers see this as a quality stamp of approval, even before the game’s release. With smash hits like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Fallout 3, and Dishonored under Bethesda’s umbrella, it’s no wonder that just about any game with their name behind it will attract lots of attention. All three of the aforementioned titles won multiple game of the year awards and both The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series have a staggering fan base. With Mikami on board, Bethesda’s production quality, and well known Hollywood actors who will be doing voice acting for some of the main characters, to say that The Evil Within is ambitious is a significant understatement.
3. Popular Hollywood actors playing major roles indicate that immersion is a primary focus
Anson Mount, the lead actor in AMC’s Hell on Wheels, will be voicing the game’s main protagonist, detective Sebastian Castellanos, a character players will be able to control throughout the game. Joining him will be actress Jennifer Carpenter, widely known for her supporting role in the hit TV show Dexter, which aired for eight seasons on Showtime. Carpenter will be playing Sebastian’s junior detective and partner Juli Kidman. The main antagonist will be voiced by none other than Jackie Earle Haley, known for his role as Rorschach, the grumbling, guttural-voiced antihero in the 2009 film Watchmen. “One of the most crucial elements to any successful survival horror game is the setting and sound, which includes the depth and authenticity of the voice acting,” said director Shinji Mikami in a press statement. “We brought together a great cast of experienced actors to help ensure that players really believe our characters’ emotions and the tension they feel in every scene.”
4. The Evil Within appears to be a blend of Silent Hill-styled psychological horror and Resident Evil 4-styled action horror
Just a glance at several screenshots shows that this game will be revising some of the best elements of the 2005 masterpiece Resident Evil 4, which was, after all, Shinji Mikami’s own creation. A quote from IGN on the official The Evil Within website practically sets this notion into stone, “This is the Resident Evil 4-style follow-up that we’ve been waiting for.”
Game play footage and images indicate that guns will be an integral part of the game (though with minimal ammunition) and the over-the-shoulder aiming looks almost exactly the way Leon Kennedy appeared in RE4. With great actors assuming the largest roles in the game, this also indicates that poor voice acting and a cheesy story is one thing that the developers hope to completely cast aside. So far, the game looks incredible and from what I’ve seen in the game play footage, it certainly appeals to my tastes in survival horror. The graphics, atmosphere, sound, and mechanics for a demo are extremely well done. When the polished and finished project is released, it will likely look even better. Watch this 12 minute extended game play demo and decide for yourself:
5. The involvement of Hollywood in the survival horror genre may become a trend
The recently announced Silent Hills game also includes the involvement of popular Hollywood actors, including legendary writer and director Guillermo Del Toro. It’s no secret that famous actors and actresses have been involved in gaming for quite some time, mainly doing voice acting. What’s unique (especially regarding The Evil Within and Silent Hills), however, is that the survival horror genre is finally starting to garner some attention from the right people. This is very good news, as bad voice acting has plagued many horror games due to developers having a tendency to focus mainly on graphical prowess, lighting, scary looking creatures, and lots of gore. Due to budgetary issues some horror games look great, and although the story may be compelling, the moment the first sentence is spoken the experience of being immersed in an exciting environment of horror is to some extent compromised. With icons like Guillermo Del-F***ing Toro working on Silent Hills, who knows how many more creatively famous people may be inspired to get involved in game development. It is a billion dollar industry, after all. Perhaps one day someone like Christopher Nolan may even take an interest. I’ll take a pass on Uwe Boll, however.