Written by: Jonathan Rosa
Ever wonder how a person thinks? What he/she is thinking? What are his/her most profound emotions and secrets? What loves and fears? What wants and desires? These questions are interesting and troubling in understanding the mind of a human being who is supposed to be rational; however, everything changes once we step into it where the person’s personality are confusing and surprising. Movies like A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Cell, Paprika and Inception navigate these questions in search of a particular goal, why and how? For this October, there is one survival horror game franchise where these questions are tackled in a terrifying nightmare that distorts our perspective of reality.
The Evil Within is directed by Shinji Mikami, developed by Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda Softworks which tells us about three detectives who respond to a distress emergency at the Beacon Mental Hospital where a massacre occurred which unfortunately transports these people to mind of a psychopath with cataclysmic proportions. Our protagonist, Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his detective partners, Joseph Oda and Judi Kidman are immersed into the mind of Ruben Victoriano nicknamed Ruvik who’s responsible of lots of murders by experimentation on his patients at the hospital. Sebastian must navigate his distorted reality which is a terrifying version of Krimson City with the Beacon Mental Hospital as its command center. Sebastian must travel across Ruvik’s mind to learn about his past and located his partners, all leading to the hospital. Throughout the game, Sebastian learns that Ruvik’s life is tragic story that traumatized him and thus, transformed his life into a monster in the real world and his mind world. Sebastian also uncovers secrets regarding Ruvik’s mind and the people who want to exploit. With chaos and monsters everywhere hunting Sebastian and his allies, he has to outwit them with any tool available as well as use his allies helps to aid him in the game. Without spoiling, as the game story ends, Sebastian learns that the terror isn’t over as more secrets are still sealed.
In addition to Sebastian story, the DLC’s: The Assignment, The Consequence and The Executioner expand the game’s story by focusing on people tied to Ruvik’s scheme. The first two stars Judi Kidman as her journey reveals the plot behind the organization Mobius who conspired in controlling Ruvik’s mind as the key to control the world populations’ subconsciousness as the solution to mankind’s problems. To complicate further, Judi realizes that her work is more complex than ever and must make the right choices to help her friends and herself. Finally, in The Executioner, this stand-alone story follows on of the big bosses of the game, The Keeper as he seeks out his daughter while battle hordes of monsters inside the Victoriano Estate. His life as a monster becomes a victim’s story bent on seeking salvation for its existence.
The Evil Within offers us a glimpse into the distorted view of Krimson City as well as Ruvik’s past; providing us knowledge about the influences of Ruvik’s mind that becomes a threat for our heroes. The game has an array of monsters that are tied to a series of horrifying incidents and mysteries of the city which managed to be included into Ruvik’s mind. This leads us to see that our heroes’ personal experiences are also included and distorting Ruvik’s world too. This serves the purpose of Mobius use of a machine called STEM which unites the minds of several people into a single mind vessel. This vessel creates the world where its users will interact and influence, but the problem arises regarding the erratic emotions and behavior that any user brings to this world.
In The Evil Within 2 which is directed by John Johanas, developed by Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda Softworks, years passed following the Beacon Incident where Sebastian exhausted all his resources to search for Mobius in hopes of learning about its involvement with its family tragic incident as well as Beacon. Sebastian is later recruited by Judi who informs him about an incident regarding his daughter, Lily Castellanos. Its revealed that Lily has been kidnapped by Mobius as way to perform a STEM project where Lily creates the town of Union District in the hopes of uniting several minds to live there. Lily has become the latest vessel of Mobius until an accident occurred where Union cut off communications with Mobius, trapping lots of users in the town. As Sebastian dives into Lily’s mind of Union District, he watches the town invaded by monsters. He soon learns that three individuals are behind the attack of Union and vie for control of it: serial killer Stefano Valentini, cult leader Theodore Wallace, and Mobius operative, Myra Castellanos. As Sebastian gains allies along the way in the hopes to find Lily and escape, he further learns of a conspiracy that tries to take down both Union and Mobius. This becomes a race against time as Union District begins to collapse while Sebastian battles to the top of the people controlling it.
This great sequel manages to shrink the world further by focusing solely on a town, different to Krimson City in the first game. Of course, chaos and terror are around every corner of Union and to survive, Sebastian must navigate with an open-world opportunity to find all of the resources needed to rescue his daughter. In addition, Union becomes a hive as it acquires as many users as it can to enslave them in the most grotesque way possible. It is also very interesting on how the atmosphere changes Union’s infrastructure in each villain’s viewpoint. As one antagonist leader dies, another evil appears and Union drastically changes to suit its needs. Stefano’s view of Union was filled in darkness, Theodore’s view was filled in holy hellfire, and Myra’s view was filled in hopelessness and abandonment. The game also focuses on Sebastian’s trauma regarding his family’s demise and how he tries to cope with it which is further complicated as his nightmares of Beacon are followed in Union. Thus, the game also connects to the first one in tackling the issue of facing fears and traumas.
Overall, The Evil Within is an amazing survival horror game created and produced by Resident Evil master Shinji Mikami who managed to experiment the world of dreams and twist it with terrifying proportions. We watched as dreams collapse, distorts and brings our fears to the worst. The storylines of each character are interesting and helpful as we understand their dreams and personalities. We see how their desires become more conflicting, thus affecting the environment. Both games have some differences in which the first one wants to let out the terror while the second wants to invite the terror to come in. All the antagonists share various agendas regarding STEM but they share their ambition to control their own worlds and kill anyone who opposes them. The franchise also tackles themes of mental illness, trauma, dream logic, oppression, human behavior, power, and many more as we explore the world of dreams. We’ve seen plenty of dream focused movies that even inspired this game, but this is the first time we take the role as the survivor and experience the nightmares that are unfolding to us.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been an announcement of a third entry as there are more mysteries left to discover as well as new nightmares to spot on. Still, The Evil Within is one of the greatest horror games giving vibes of Resident Evil and Silent Hill while maintaining its own identity and new horror approaches. With a creative style, great gameplay and an interesting story, this double feature delivers continuous terrors that we may not want to experience. Therefore, give yourself a long time playing The Evil Within on October and spend Halloween facing your own spooky reality.