I felt strongly about The Evil Within when it first came out. By “strongly” I mean I pretty much hated it.
For those of you who remember the aggressive marketing campaign that involved heralding its director and veteran of horror Shinji Mikami as the ninth wonder of the universe, ready to revive a dead genre, you should understand.
As a huge fan of survival horror, my body was ready. I expected artfully designed atmosphere, subtle psychological elements at work in its story and survival the way I knew it – hint: it involved clubbing a Shibito over the head with a shoehorn in Siren.
And that, ladies and gents, is why you don’t expect things. Just. Stop. Your senseless hype ruins otherwise good stuff.
When I revisited Evil Within years later, and after playing its sequel, I realised what a ruddy good game it is. Granted, there are some stupid end bosses that make you want to take a chainsaw to your own head and the story tends to lapse into melodrama far more often than should be permitted. But it had something far more important by the bucketload – no, not blood and guts, though it has a lot of that – Evil Within has a strong identity.
Its bizarre characters and writing, even weirder monsters, schizophrenic locations, morbid approach to role-playing elements and frequent use of Debussy’s Clair de Lune all create a distinctly unique (icky) world. The likes of which didn’t really come around again until Resident Evil VII – a game Mikami had no hand it but, in his own words, ‘was crafted beautifully.’
To Shinji Mikami, I was wrong and I think you did, in fact, revive a dead genre. Sorry.