Is it stealing if Shinji Mikami steals from Shinji Mikami? Ponder that as you ponder the idea that Mikami, whose last Resident Evil was the last Resident Evil that was widely loved, is making a new game that will ring the bell of anyone who played Resident Evil 4.
They're calling this new one The Evil Within.
Can't fault the guy, right?
It's been eight years. Mikami made some very non-Resident Evil games after RE4, including God Hand and Vanquish, cult classics both.
The new game comes from Mikami's new studio, Tango Gameworks, and a new publisher, the Fallout and Skyrim folks at Bethesda. It's survival horror. Stars a detective. Starts, at least according to a demo I recently saw of the game, in an asylum. Our hero stands a bit to the left of the screen, a la RE4. He's got no herbal health sprays. He has syringes. He has limited weapons and ammo. Was it eight minutes into the demo before he was being chased by a brutal, murderous enemy who was wielding a chainsaw?
Here's a difference. When our hero walked down this hallway, no dogs jumped through the windows.
This is an interesting project, one that implicitly proposes an alternate history where Resident Evil games didn't go to new game directors at Capcom and turn into controversial action-adventures set in daylight. The post-RE4 Resident Evils that exist and that Mikami had nothing to do with are paced less like horror movies and more like a Summer blockbusters. The Evil Within seems creepier, more dangerous, more old-school. It might as well be the Resident Evil 5 we didn't get.
What else The Evil Within really is remains a mystery. You can't glean much from 20 minutes of action (this might as well be the refrain for any video game preview these days). Detective walks into asylum/hospital. Cops who had already arrived were killed? Blood everywhere. A dying doctor mutters ominous things. The monitor in a security room shows someone being attacked by a shadowy figure. The figure looks up at the camera. Is suddenly behind our guy and... kills him?
The Evil Within might as well be the Resident Evil 5 we didn't get.
Cut to our guy hanging upside down, broken and bleeding and about to be finished off, presumably, by some hulking brute. Escape. And then running, sneaking, getting chased into a room full of spinning blades, escaping, limping, tossing a bottle to make a sound that distracts the stalking enemy before getting by... hearing a ferocious sound, getting outside to discover a city split by an earthquake.
Later, there's a scene of our hero armed with guns, standing in some sort of house, preparing for an assault of the shambling zombie-like enemies who might be this game's main bad guys. The player can set traps, shoot or run. Traps aside, it resembles the house shootout in RE4. The graphics are gritty and detailed, though the game world looks stiff, true to an RE game.
After the demo, a rep from Mikami's studio takes questions from the press. The first is about how this game is different from Resident Evil. The answer from producer Masato Kimura, via translator, is that it might seem similar because it is intended to be "really scary" but will have several unique features.
I follow up. I said I didn't see much gameplay that looked different from RE4. Could they highlight what's different?
"One of the things from the demo is the mine trap," Kimura says. "There will be a lot of traps that makes the combat more strategic. That's one of those things.
"Another thing is the last scene of the first demo," he adds, referring to the big earthquake. "The collapsed city... that's not typical to survival horror. We are trying to do things that usually [aren't] in survival horror to make a unique universe."
Fair enough, but it's not like anyone is going to yell at Shinji Mikami's new team if "all" they manage to make is a new, better Resident Evil. They've earned that shot.
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Here are my notes from watching a demo of the game. The copy here is more raw and hasn't been edited much. If you prefer this kind of thing, let us know.
Detective goes to asylum were empty cop cars fill the driveway, goes inside, finds doctor who says “it was him”, finds a secutiy station and watch thre cops flee and then get killed by some sort of stabby ghost lady who then looks up at the camera, appears behind our guy and attacks. We wake up in first person hanging upseide down near other corpses that are ripped in half. We swing and grab a knife. Then we’re down in third person moving through rooms full of dead bodies. Brick and tile walls, gas cans, metal tables, dumpsters, the look is grey and red, mostly
Guy tries to sneak upstairs, is chased by a man with a chainsaw who gets his leg, then drops gate, our guy has to limp-run through a room full of spinning blades, winds up in some room full of filing cabinets
There’s a lot of using keys to open locked doors.
Hides in locker from chainsaw guy. Heartbeat is pounding
Chainsaw guy goes into another room. Our guy slowly creeps out and tries to sneak by. There’s a lot of crouching and sneaking. It seems somewhat tedious. Guy throws bottle to distract enemy, escapes to an elevator
Scene change. No more limp. Walking through hallway with windows at one side, as if dogs are going to jump through the window. Everything starts shaking, as if there is an earthquake. and there was? There’s a crease in the world
they say that was the first 15 minutes and was horror
now survival horror combat…
red line across three fifths of bottom of screen, left fifth is red
it was a health bar,
we go into a house. This is very Resident Evil. Menu for weapons and health packs. Picks up syringes for health. Has lantern on belt for illumination
has revolver and…matches? Goes into dark room, is rushed by slow moving enemies who sure look like zombies. Headshots hem and then lights one on fire.
Picks up bullets and mine trap, equips latter
Goes into an upstairs room. Zombies approach from outside. Sets up some mines on the wall, shoots enemies… world seems fairly unbreakable. Suddenly the music changes and it seems like the zombies have stopped attacking. Something weird is happening in the hallway. He approaches a door and it keeps not being there or extending the hallway or something. Then a door opens and a shining river of blood flows out, then he’s in a very different, modern basement (had been in something that looked more stone and old) We might be back in the hospital. Or, more likely, in a morgue
Character stands to the left a la RE4. Approaching corpses, an enemy arises. A slither of limb. Maybe female. That’s it.
PC, current and next gen consoles
This preview is based on a hands-off demo of about 20 minutes of the game.