It was only two years ago that I saw the man who terrified me as a preteen. No, not Vincent Price, but Shinji Mikami, creator of the precursor to survival horror saga Resident Evil. Before it became a shell of its former self, delving into conspiracy, things that aren’t zombies and movies starring Mila “Multi-Pass” Jovovich, Resident Evil was a horror junkie’s wet dream, able to produce scares while challenging the player to solve cultish puzzles, all the while avoiding menacing creatures.
Mikami’s latest project is The Evil Within, which for fans of his prior work is finally a return to what made those Resident Evil titles great — focusing on survival, cerebral horror and overall just being flippin’ weird.
The Evil Within follows three detectives as they investigate the brutal murders of the entire staff of a mental health facility. As cliché as that may sound, and it is, just bear with it. Main protagonist Sebastian Castellanos is a detective with a chip on his shoulder and, well, that’s also a cliché. OK, there’s not a lot of originality here from the get-go. Where it over-performs is in its visuals and enemies, specifically the main baddie, a chainsaw-wielding nightmare somewhere out of Hellraiser and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
If you’re familiar with the classic Resident Evil style of pointing and shooting, specifically the over-the-shoulder style mastered in Resident Evil 4, you’ll know that it almost devolves into trial and error. These guys come at you hard and do not let up. Early levels seem almost trivial as you’re rewarded by being stealthy until it all devolves into a shoot ’em up, LSD-fueled nightmare.
Here’s the deal: We keep bringing up Resident Evil. The fourth installment of the game is generally what you can expect from The Evil Within. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. That’s not, however, entirely original. Though a good upgrade system and unique environments really sets the game apart, it’s not as terrifyingly delightful as Mikami’s previous work.
Which is to say, even Mikami’s mediocre titles are above average. Give The Evil Within a shot for this long Halloween Friday night.
Speaking of LSD-fueled nightmares, let’s talk Attack on Titan. If you haven’t seen the enormously popular anime, do yourself a favor and watch it. Built in a world where humans live in walled cities to protect themselves from the flesh-eating giants that wander the countryside, Attack on Titan explores the human psyche and society, analyzing us as we analyze cattle. Also, giant freakin’ people eat other people; and man, is that weird.
Weird is what you get with the Attack on Titan game for the Nintendo 3DS, too. This isn’t a game you can run and snatch off the shelves, however; it’s a Japanese import, in Japanese. As much as I enjoyed zipping through the cities enclosed by the three walls, Maria, Rose and Sheena, I had a difficult time getting past the tutorial levels because I can’t freakin’ read Japanese.
What I’m hoping for is an American import. Fans of the show will love that clips are used to introduce challenges, and zipping around the city on jet-powered lines is fun, as is fighting the Titans alongside your posse, as they lumber around like drunken, multistory-tall naked babies.
If you can’t get your hand on the import, the show is just as bizarrely entertaining for a night full of handing out candy with that look on your face like you’ve just seen a giant Jerry Garcia munch on your favorite character.
The Evil Within is available now across multi platforms, $59.99. Attack on Titan may or may not ever be released stateside, but is available from import stores WITH the exception that you’ll also need a Japanese Nintendo 3DS to play it. So… perhaps watch the anime as you wait patiently for its arrival stateside.
Chris O’Neal is spending Halloween all dressed up with nowhere to go. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @agentoneal.