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Facing My Fears: Lessons From The Evil Within

by Mike Futter on Oct 27, 2014 at 10:25 AM

As you might recall, I don’t often play survival horror games for reasons I detailed in a recent story. That doesn’t mean I won’t try them, though. And with Andrew Reiner singing the praises of Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within, I decided to give it a try.

I’ve been streaming the game, and I’ll continue to do so until I’ve finished (you can catch up here). This exercise has proven to be a satisfying way to tackle a genre about which I’m often trepidatious.

I’ve also learned some things about myself in the first few hours of the game that I decided to share as a follow-up to my last horror-themed piece. If appropriate, I’ll be updating this as I continue to play.

Be very, very quiet
If you’ve watched the stream or the archive, you’ve no doubt noticed that I crouch everywhere I go in The Evil Within. This is, in part, due to the traps littering The Evil Within’s environments. But that’s not the only reason.

As I think back to how I played Deus Ex: Human Revolution on my no-kill run, Splinter Cell, or any other stealth game, I realize that I’m a croucher. I prefer to slink around in stealth mode. This isn’t a fear thing, though (at least not in most games). 

I just like to get the jump on the bad guys. And, in the inevitable situations that I stumble into the line of view, I want to give myself every chance to get away before being fully detected.

Fear of the unknown
Entering new areas means different things depending on the genre. In open world games, it’s about looking for landmarks. In shooters, I find myself looking for likely ambush points. For RPGs, its the joy of running into new enemies.

In horror games, at least for me, it’s about abject fear. I think about how I approached chapter three in The Evil Within. Each house is a new set of traps and undead. The constant screaming of the Sadist haunts and obscures the soundscape, making it harder to discern the presence of other enemies.

As I spent more time, learned the layout, and chipped away at the foes, I became more comfortable. Of course, becoming too relaxed is dangerous too. I learned my lesson as I walked right into an enemy that I thought I had dealt with. Oops.

Shivs and giggles
I won’t pretend that I wasn’t freaked out as I started The Evil Within. And I dealt with that in the way I deal with so many other things: humor (in my case, terrible humor).

I made fun of the environments. I goofed about the absurdity of being chased by an angry man-thing with a chainsaw. I started saying the word “stab” over and over as I was sneaking up on enemies (hoping that they wouldn’t turn around at the last moment).

So, if I’m ever faced with an axe murderer or a horde of zombies, I’ll be the guy you tell to shut up with the jokes. Unless I crack a really good one – unlikely, I know.

It’s dangerous to go alone
Part of what is making The Evil Within worthwhile for me is that I’m streaming the entire thing. We’ve had a fantastic audience for the first two parts, with helpful and engaging commenters keeping me from freaking out too much.

Thanks to those of you who have tuned in so far. It’s not too late to catch up, and I’d love to have you along for the rest of the ride.