The Evil Within is like the Saw movie of video games. Some people are going to love its gruesomeness whereas others will find its old school Resident Evil style feels like predictable old hat.
We fall into the latter camp at the moment. When we first saw the game this time last year it failed to convince us that the crap-your-pants horror was something that needed a resurgence. It all looked a bit too much like Resident Evil meets Silent Hill with an extra gallon of blood for good measure.
It plays much the same too. Cumbersome mechanics make it purposefully tricky to survive. Add limited ammo, traps, collectables and puzzles, plus unexpected waves of zombie-like evils and it feels like trying (and failing) to outrun the dogs in Resident Evil for the first time.
Although we’re not in the 90s and the decade that followed any more there’s still a market for this stuff. Saw the movie spawned a never-ending number of sequels because there was demand for it.
So on that front The Evil Within already has its audience. If cutting open corpses to find the next relic in a puzzle and watching your protagonist get munched up by spinning blades is your idea of fun then look no further. You sadistic lot.
What The Evil Within gets very right is its dark, creepy style. The demo we played at the Bethesda stand at this year’s E3 begins in darkness - literally, we played it in a blacked-out corridor - and Japanese developers Tango Gameworks deliver lo-fi grit to its gaming world. Added digital image noise give those low-light scenes distinct character.
It will make you jump, it will make your heart thump as the adrenaline trickles into your bloodstream. At first at least. There’s a thrill in that, but once you’ve died a few times over you’ll learn what to not do the next time and then the novelty of the grimness wears off.
Having only played some of The Evil Within from chapter eight perhaps we’ll find an entirely different stance once we get to play the game from the very beginning.
Last year we saw the game’s opening gambit: the cops are called to a mental asylum where they encounter dozens of dead bodies and a “is he in your mind?” evil figure dispatches your colleagues before taking you captive. Strung upside down, blood dripping into a pool beneath, you reawaken in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre moment complete with metal-masked maniac cutting up human bodies in the background.
This one is going to divide opinion we suspect when it launches in October. Without seeing how the horror progresses it’s a tricky one to call at this moment in time. What we can confirm, however, is that The Evil Within is most definitely not family friendly.