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PAX East: The Evil Within First Impressions

Can The Evil Within revitalize the dying genre of survival horror?

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The survival horror genre is scarcely worked within the video game industry and can be hit-or-miss with the general public.The Evil Within is the latest survival horror videogame by Tango Gameworks. As a fan of the survival horror genre, I was excited to see what The Evil Within had in store at PAX East.

Initial Impressions

About forty people were led into a dark room with a huge monitor in the front while a person stood beside ready to play. I instantly shrugged off the fact that I wouldn’t be able to immerse myself into the game by actually playing it. The gameplay demo begins with the lead protagonist, Sebastian, walking in a city in ruins. There are destroyed buildings, debris everywhere, roads torn apart, and abandoned cars everywhere, but it all looks too familiar. There is absolutely no context as to why or what is happening. Sebastian, although the main character, felt completely distant from the game itself. He doesn’t seem to react to what is occurring and just remains undaunted by it all.

Been There, Done That

The demo continued with the player showing off some of the proverbial city destruction. Afterwards, Sebastian is met with gun totting zombie like enemies. This completely removes the survival horror aspect and trades it in for an action genre. Additionally, Sebastian is equipped with powerful weapons that can easily obliterate the enemies with ease. The omnipotence of Sebastian detracts from the sense of helplessness one should experience when playing a survival videogame. After dispatching the enemies, various objects fall from the sky creating a loud noise to catch the viewer with a cheap scare.

The second gameplay demo places Sebastian in a dungeon filled with toxin gas while he is followed by meat tenderizing enemies whose heads are swathed by metal safes. Again, there is no context as to why he is there. The atmosphere was definitely terrifying and created a heart pounding moment, but that quickly subsided when the player swiftly equipped his crossbow and froze the enemies in place and promptly killed them with a pistol. The essential feeling of vulnerability was lacking here as well. After a few twists and turns of valves, the player successfully exited the area.

Graphics

The Evil Within has beautifully done graphics. Sebastian’s hair sways according to the movement he’s making. The debris in the first gameplay demo looked astonishing. The dungeon had a grimy and sludgy appearance which fit well. From their attire to the weapons they were wielding, the enemies were given fine detail in their presentation. 

Final Thoughts

The survival horror genre is not an easy sell. In today’s modern world, everything is fast paced, including videogames. People would happily trade in a slow paced videogame for, a high octane shooter which is probably why Tango Gameworks incorporated the gun-wielding enemies and gave Sebastian various weapons. Developers of this genre tread on risky roads because they want their game to appeal to everyone so it can sell. The Evil Within gameplay demo has some elements of the survival horror genre, but it’s not quite there yet.

Originally Published Apr. 15th 2014

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Just a gamer who is trying to get the word out to the world

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