The lights are on
When I got a chance to see the original The Evil Within trailer at E3 last year, I was blown away. The recently released trailer had me excited as well. Most of what we’ve seen from the game has screamed survival horror perfection. The two gameplay demos we had a chance to see today at PAX East (sorry, capturing footage was not allowed) left me a little concerned about just how creepy the title’s going to be in the end. While it would be insane to judge the game on around 20 minutes of gameplay, what was shown didn’t leave me with a great impression.
The first gameplay demo shows the protagonist moving about the massively changed world that players get a glimpse of at the end of the E3 trailer. Streets shift and move as the character moves around an unsettling urban backdrop. Things take a turn for the bland as the character moves into a gated area where he encounters a group of zombies and dispatches them handily with a variety of weapons, from a shotgun to explosive crossbow bolts. Not that there's anything wrong with zombie slaying, but the previous gameplay footage and trailers give off a completely different vibe, one without much shooting, and with a heavier emphasis on fragility and scares.
While the weapons seem competent, and the zombies need to be burned after they’ve been brought down to keep them from coming back, these slow stereotypical zombies being blasted to pieces with a vast, devastating arsenal isn’t the kind of thing that previous trailers and footage have conveyed. The demo ends with the character getting killed by a more interesting water monster, but the overall tone of the brief demo felt stale and overly familiar.
The second gameplay demo’s chance to redeem the first fell flat. The character maneuvers throughout a network of underground areas, continually killing “Boxhead” monsters. While creepy, the Boxhead encounters lost their luster quickly as the player’s vast array of weapons dispatched them easily, over and over. These demos placed a huge focus on powerful weapons and monster-slaying, a far cry from the experience of terror seen in the original reveal.
That said, during the demos I noticed what appeared to be a rather interesting crafting system that allowed the player to create specialty ammo to suit the situation he was in, a feature that has not been fully unveiled yet.
I’m still excited for the game, but I hope that these demos, with their focus on high-octane action over real scares, don’t portray the meat of the game experience.
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