Can I play with madness? The Evil Within and the return of survival horror

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May 4, 2013
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Survival horror is a genre in crisis. Its most surprising jolts have become clichés, its core elements have been compromised by the inexorable march towards AAA action. Where once players would fire every bullet reluctantly, conscious that each shot wasted might be the difference between life and death minutes later, now our horror heroes march into battle with customised machine guns, mowing down the monsters with impugnity.

The Evil Within aims to reset the genre compass. How much of the game will be spent running, and how much will be spent fighting? "You'll be running. A lot," deadpans the game's US producer, Jason Bergman. "The emphasis is on scaring the hell out of you."

We're watching Bergman play his way through an early build of The Evil Within while seated in the appropriately gothic library of the Elvetham estate in Hampshire, bathed in blood red lighting. It's a 19th Century mansion, itself built on grounds that date back to the 1400s. Portraits of long dead patriarchs stare down from beneath vaulted ceilings, while stairs and passageways cut through the stark stone architecture in odd ways. Throw in a couple of shuffling blue-faced zombies in the restaurant and this could be yet another mansion atop another secret Umbrella Corp lab. It feels appropriate.

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