The Evil Within announcement media analysis
Get out your reading glasses and tin-foil hats! With the first day of The Evil Within reveal being over and done with, what can we pull from all of it? What can we learn? While we know a lot more about the project today than yesterday, there still is a lot left (appropriately) in the shadows. We’ll be getting more news on Monday, but what can we pull from today?
A warning that all of this is heavy speculation and observation off of limited media and information. I’ll try to make it clear what is fact and what is speculated, but nothing in this article should be taken as concrete. This is just an analysis.
The team behind the game has quite a colorful history
Of course, at the forefront of the project lays the much-praised father of Resident Evil, Shinji Mikami. The man has a track-record directing and producing horror and shooter titles that anyone could admire, with his most famous roles probably being directing Resident Evil 1 (and its REmake), Resident Evil 4, Dino Crisis, & Vanquish. But behind the man is a lot of other talented individuals. Tango Gameworks is a new studio, with this being their first title. However, the staff are mostly experienced veterans, many from Capcom’s horror game past. There are various people on the project who were involved with the development of most of the main-line older Resident Evil games (from the original to Resident Evil 4), as well as other Capcom horror franchises, like Dino Crisis and Haunting Grounds. There is also a number of people working on the project who are from Platinum Games and Grasshopper Manufacture (which makes sense as Mikami worked with both of these companies to make Vanquish and Shadows of the Damned), and some of their pasts leads back into Capcom’s horror-game history, or other oddball horror games, like Rule of Rose.
The team behind it is constructed of a lot of people who have been part of Resident Evil and survival-horror for a long-time, and it’s a somewhat exciting and interesting proposal to think how many of the greats of yesteryear for horror are joined together on this project to make a horror game for modern audiences and consoles.
But enough about the team, what can we learn from the screens?
It is almost certain that the screens circulating from IGN right now were not intended for the public, which is supported that IGN quickly took them down off their own site (but not before various people online had already collected them and posted them back up). While these are a collection of real screenshots, bullshots, and concept art, there is quite a few things you can learn just by paying attention to them.
This is an impressive piece of concept art that almost looks like it could be in-game. Though not wholly original, the art does a great job at visualizing a scene that seems to be taking place in a factory, where our main character (Sebastian) comes face-to-face with the Vaultheaded enemy. Due to its design, many have assigned the monster to a role similar to Pyramid Head from Silent Hill, but there lies the possibility that this could in-fact just be a regular ‘stronger’ monster, like Dr. Salvador in Resident Evil 4 or the Executioner from Resident Evil 5. The teaser trailer (which we’ll be getting into a bit later, along with the theme of barbwire) shows the vault of ‘Vaulthead’ being opened, and out springs a collection of tentacles that wiggle all over the place. My immediate first thought was that this seemed suspiciously like a piece of early concept art for Resident Evil 4…
…But, assuming for a second that this monster isn’t invincible, what would its weak point be? My personal theory is that those two ‘Barb-Wire’ segments that are keeping the vault shut can be shot off, which results in, similarly seen in the teaser trailer, releasing a series of tentacles from the Vault, which would likely be this monster’s weak-point. Sebastian could probably do this with the Shotgun he’s got stored on his back (which suggest that items that Sebastian is carrying likely will appear somewhere on his character model while not in-use), though instead he seems to wield a lantern, which seems a bit foolish in a brightly-lit environment like the factory. But this also suggests that, like Doom 3, Sebastian does not have the ability (or at least, an item or upgrade yet) to wield a light and a weapon at the same time, as in all of the screens released today, we never once see Sebastian have a light-source of any kind, outside of this concept art where he wields the lantern. In other screens, in-fact, we see Sebastian have darkness affecting the visibility of Sebastian to the player, making it hard to see him if there is not a natural light-source in the environment, something which I can say I have never seen used to this effect in a third-person shooting game before.
Back to Vaulthead though, he also could be of importance and be the invincible Pyramid Head-alike that many think him out to be. In the teaser trailer, we see a man almost obsessively working on barbed-wire as scenes of the Vaulthead enemy play-out. The man, who I am tentatively calling, ‘The Tinkerer’, seems to be wearing the same shirt (or at least, a very similar one) to the Vaultheaded man. In the live-action teaser trailer, we watch as ‘The Tinkerer’ messes around with barbed-wire, cuts his finger and spills a bit of blood onto an image of a woman, and then starts to vigorously smear the whole picture with his blood. The added symbolism here is, of course, that while he does this, we also see the four-armed girl enemy come out of the pool of blood, and shortly afterward we see the Vaultman bursting tentacles out of his vault.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, my theory is that the Tinkerer is the Vaultheaded Man. Besides the shirt thing, the Vaultheaded enemy is the only enemy so far to have barbed-wire incorporated into its design, as well as it wears a safety apron that is often worn by those who work closely with wood or metal. The choice weapon of a hammer is also fairly thematic of the Tinkerer’s obsessive building ways. At the very least, the Tinkerer definitely has a role that is associated with the Vaultheaded Man. I also believe that the Tinkerer is related to the four-armed girl, as there is a definite symbolic purpose behind the scene of the Tinkerer smearing blood onto the drawn-woman’s image as we see the four-armed woman rise from the pool of blood. It should be noted that the four-armed girl is referred to as ‘Reborn Girl’ by the actor who played her in the skit.
This scene with the ‘Reborn Girl’ looks delightfully creepy and disturbing. As mentioned earlier, our hero appears to have no light-source and must rely on the lights in the environment. Behind the Reborn Girl, we see what appears to be a group of corpses, suggesting she was doing something to them before Sebastian came onto the scene. The room definitely looks like a surgery room, heavily hinting there will be a hospital-like location in the game (or at least a segment designed like a hospital in a larger facility).
Now let’s backtrack to the image at the start of the post, and probably the earliest image we have currently of the chronological order of events in the game. We have two people arriving on the scene of a crime where it seems several police officers have already arrived. The character to the right is definitely Sebastian (he is wearing the same outfit, even with the pulled-up sleeves that Sebastian wears). This is the only shot we get to see his face clearly, and this reveals that it seems Sebastian wears glasses. The other character in the jacket is presumingly his partner mentioned in the Japanese press-release. They’re confirmed to be cops, so it seems they arrived a bit late to the scene and Sebastian appears to be looking around, probably wondering where all the cops went. Another interesting note is that they seem to be in front of a large facility, and there’s a statue to the left of them that might hint at some sort of puzzle.
However, and this is probably the most interesting thing, but I think this game may use (temporarily) fixed-camera angles like the survival-horror titles of yesteryear. This shot is at an angle and has some rain effects going across the screen, but it could be a cinematic… But there are other screens that allude to this as well.
Pay close attention to this screen. It’s set at an angle, but the angle captures an item, a container, which is the focal-point of the image. This is very similar to how old horror games would highlight important items. This shot definitely looks to be in-game, and the angle it is shot at seems to be focusing on the item. However, to further prove that this angle is intentional and probably the in-game camera, notice how among the bodies there is a single one that looks a bit weird, which is the furthest body from the actual object. That body is full of nails, wrapped-up, and it appears to be chained-up as opposed to the other bodies, which are simply free-falling. My guess is that by picking up the object, this will trigger the body that is different to react, which could only be captured in the game if the camera was angled like this, as otherwise it would be behind the player and wouldn’t be seen. The angle looks very intentional and the whole scene seems to be designed with this angle in mind.
At first I thought this was a ‘cinematic’ shot of an enemy, but paying closer attention, it’s actually Sebastian. Further more, he is in a pose that is almost identical to that of the above ‘police scene’ screenshot, which was also at an angle. My theory is that Sebastian may have some sort of stamina that he exhausts, and that when he gets tired he hunches over and moves slower while regaining stamina. This also suggests that the earlier police scene is part of gameplay and not a cinematic, as well as is supportive that this game may have angled camera scenes. While this screen could be angled for dramatic effect, it is also easy to imagine the camera to be angled towards Sebastian and move along with him as he moves down the hallway. Again note the lack of character lighting.
This shot is a bit interesting. Obviously set in the same place as the last couple of shots, Sebastian seems to have the ability to sneak up on the clueless butcher who is working away at his meat conveniently next to a probably blaring-loud gramophone. Mist collects at the Butcher’s feet, suggesting he may be standing close to an open freezer. Animals and humans hang from butcher hooks, and there is a convenient hook behind the butcher holding a set of keys. Almost deviously there seems to be a can laying right under where the keys are, though, probably to stir noise. Our character also seems to be unarmed, meaning this is either a really early point of the game or he somehow lost his supplies on his way here. This screen also has quite a bit of noise effect, though the reason is unknown. A small detail that is easy to miss as well is that, to the right, you can see another figure seeming to sit-down through some blurred-glass, suggesting this isn’t the only sneaking Sebastian has been doing.
This is a piece of concept art for an area called, ‘The Village,’ which we know as it labels itself as the Village. It also seems this piece of art is a bit more recent, as it is marked as being completed on February 3rd of this year. The setting and scene seems like the aftermath of a big break-out battle that draws serious Resident Evil 4 vibes (as we’ll be getting to in just a moment). We see houses that seem to have multiple floors, ladders, and burning corpses that litter the village. But this all might seem more inviting than the dark entrance to what looks like a dark forest ahead. Sebastian also seems to be in possession of the shotgun and lantern in this piece of artwork as well, but is using neither of them.
This appears to be a scene set in the same sort of location. Here we see Sebastian, with a weapon pulled, shooting-out at enemies that are very reminiscent of the Ganados from Resident Evil 4. Enemies come at him with various farm-based weapons, outside of a single enemy in the background, who wields a pick-axe and appears to be wearing a bird (Plague Doctor?) mask. There also seems to be a grand structure ahead, emitting a powerful beam, almost like the Eye of Mordor. This type of scene is actually very common in Mikami-inspired games of late; There was a similar scene to this in Shadows of the Damned where you approached the main castle of the game and had to go through a village on the outskirts of it before reaching it. In Shadows of the Damned, you also had to go through some mines after the village before you could reach the tower. This also happened similarly in Resident Evil 4, where there was a scene where you went from some ruins into a series of mines, all to get a key to enter a tower. We might be doing something similar here, supported by the pickax weapon the enemy in the background is carrying.
The rest of the scenes depict enemies approaching Sebastian in this village-setting, though there are a few interesting things to note about the enemies themselves. Firstly, they seem to be some sort of product of the Tinkerer, as they have nails stuffed into them (almost as if shoved in with some sort of giant hammer), as well as a few have barbed-wire tied around them. They also appear to have glowing eyes for some reason, and their skin seems odd. Either their skin is living and can move around its host underlying bones like a bunch of maggots, or a lot of their skin is torn off and barely strung-together by muscle, pretty much proving the point that they’re no longer truly alive. All the same, it seems like we can expect facing a horde in certain scenes of the game for sure, though this should come at no surprise at this point from a Mikami-directed game. The only other thing to note is that it looks like shooting enemies could be very bloody.
And what can we pull from the Japanese Press Release?
Outside of a teaser trailer and some screens, we also received a press release from Japan that had some information on the game. The PR makes specific mention of the fact the game will be limited resource, feature traps and puzzles (including traps you can turn around on your enemies), and mostly talks about tone and direction of the game, with a special mention that there’s some sort of dark force at work here. However, and probably most interestingly, is the mention of ‘Distortion Effects’.
The press release makes mention that things in the environment, like walls, doors, objects, or even nature, can distort in real-time based on the players actions. At first when translating it I thought it might be referring to changes in objects in the environment, like making a boulder explode, but it very clearly is talking about something much deeper than that. It makes mention that, “Not all horrors are in plain sight,” and that, “the world is distorted and warped by the mysterious and evil horrors.” It makes it sound like through the game, individual objects or whole entire rooms can warp based on things the player does, and teases that horror can come from all sides. The thing is, it makes no specific mention of how it ‘warps’, or what the player does to make it warp. There’s even a bit of cheekiness that suggests this may in-fact be a randomized effect.
This aspect I find to be completely interesting, but also familiar. In fact, reading up on this project, a lot of it sounds familiar, but changed. And it all links back to one common denominator.
Delusional scrapped concept?
Now hear me out on this one. While observing all of the details of the game, I was trying to keep it as self-contained as I possibly could. “It’s been nine years since Resident Evil 4, I’m sure Mikami didn’t pull too many ideas from the scrapped versions of that game,” and for the most part, this seems true. A lot of the game seems to be very inspired by Resident Evil 4, but it all seem like an evolution of the idea rather than taking unused concepts. Well, mostly, anyways.
One of the biggest aspects of an earlier version of Resident Evil 4, known as ‘The Fog Version’, was that Leon’s mental-state was to be in question, and that the player would have to question if what they were seeing was real or a figment of Leon’s imagination. There was only a couple videos of the fog version of this game, but both show moments where the world turns a bluish color and usually something like doors distort and can’t be passed through and things get a little supernaturally unreal. You can see the gameplay below:
This idea was never used, but it’s all I can think of when this sort of ‘insanity’ effect is mentioned. Besides the fact that things literally got distorted in that version of the game, it’s a bit hard to imagine how it will be like in The Evil Within due to the vague description. Now it could be more similar to sanity effects like in Eternal Darkness, it could be scripted, it could be randomized, but they make it a highlighted bulletin in the Japanese PR. The sort of warp in the world could be used to great effect, but is it just a visual thing, does it have gameplay purpose and change in design? With such vagueness, the similar concept from Resident Evil 3.5 pops-up, and seems like a similar way to fit the bill of what these scenes may be like.
This also brings in the element of our character possibly being insane, or at least delusional… Or is he? Insanity is a fun element in horror stories, but hasn’t been played up enough in actual horror games gameplay that it is almost kind of hard to imagine.
We here at Rely on Horror will keep you updated on The Evil Within news as it develops.