Next month will be a landmark time for horror games. Sega and the Creative Assembly have Alien: Isolation, a game inspired by the first Alien film, on the way on October 7. Just one week later, Bethesda and Tango Software will unleashed The Evil Within, the long-awaited return to horror from Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. Both games are due out on Xbox One and 360, so our last-gen brothers need not miss out on the scares.
With both games drawing near, the publishers are keeping them in the spotlight with new information and trailers. Alien: Isolation will be getting post-launch DLC for six months in the form of challenging new Survivor mode missions, we recently found out. As for The Evil Within, I recently had the opportunity to play the game and experience its disturbing atmosphere. Continue reading for detailed impressions and a look at both games' new trailers!
Fight for survival in Alien: Isolation
When we last previewed Alien: Isolation, I focused on the game's story mode and preorder bonus missions. In the main story, players will control Amanda Ripley, daughter of the protagonist of all four Aliens films, Ellen Ripley. The preorder missions (also available to buy post-release) will actually allow you to play as Ellen Ripley during and after the events of the first film.
Isolation also includes a non-story mode called Survivor. In this mode, players will take on timed challenge levels. The goal is to reach the end and survive against deadly foes like an android gone haywire and the Alien itself. These missions add a sense of urgency to the game, since you can't sit still and hide for too long. They even get a little competitive thanks to leaderboard support.
The game will ship with a single Survivor mission to whet player appetites. After release, Sega plans to release five additional Survivor add-on packs as paid DLC. Each one will include three maps, a new playable character, and a challenging mix of new maps and game modes.
The first of the Survivor packs launches on October 28, three weeks after the game's release. The four following DLC packs will arrive over the next six months (the last one in March 2015). Players can also purchase a Season Pass to get all five packs at a twenty-five percent discount.
Alien: Isolation will be an extremely atmospheric (and scary) game. It comes to Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and 4, and PC on Tuesday, October 7.
Investigate the horrors of The Evil Within
In The Evil Within, you'll play as veteran police detective Sebastian Castellanos (voiced by Anson Mount). Sebastian and other members of the police force arrive at an asylum where a gruesome mass murder has taken place. Before long the culprit, a dark and haggard figure named Ruvik (voiced by Jackie Earle Haley) shows up and attacks the officers. Ruvik is seemingly invincible…
In the demo I played, Sebastian finds himself walking through a forest. The visuals for this segment are grainy and murky, making for a very unsettling trip. Soon our protagonist arrives at a giant flower, which starts to glow… And suddenly Ruvik is there, staggering towards Sebastian with a knife. It looks like he's done for, until the ghostly forest disappears and the hero finds himself in front of a dilapidated mansion. It feels like the hero recognizes this place.
Upon entering the mansion, you'll find yourself in a foyer surrounded by two staircases and numerous doors on the first and second floor. It certainly reminds of the original Resident Evil mansion. Back behind the two staircases is a vault door covered by a mysterious machine. The machine looks like a brain with three electrodes sticking into it. What the…?
Fighting for your life
As Sebastian explores the mansion, Ruvik will materialize out of the ether at random times. You cant hope to fight him, so all you can do is either run like crazy or hide. The ability to hide under beds and in closets is cool, but in the preview build Sebastian constantly makes this heavy breathing sound as he hides. It sounds like he's hyperventilating! Hopefully that sound will have been dialed down in the final version that ships next month.
Anyway, those moments with Ruvik are tense and frightening. You might already be engaged with another monster or two when he appears, forcing a quick change of plans. Of course, the repeated appearance of an invincible protagonist is also kind of Resident Evil-like. The third Resident Evil featured such a monster, called the Nemesis. Ruvik looks more like a deranged homeless man than a big monster, but he'll stalk you throughout The Evil Within all the same.
Navigating the mansion hallways feels a lot better than the older Resident Evil games, of course, since Evil Within uses modern controls. You'll have to collect items and solve puzzles, just as you'd expect from this sort of game. You'll also encounter frightening enemies like a crying woman with a horribly mutilated face. A few pistol shots will free her from her anguish. In a unique touch, all enemies in The Evil Within must be set on fire after you knock them out. Toss a match and they'll go up in flames, never to rise again.
Mansion of horrors
As Sebastian passes through one particular hallway, he'll suddenly find himself pulled by an unknown force. The wall opens up to reveal a huge meat grinder, ready to shred him to bits. The first time I encountered this scene, I didn't react quickly enough and met my end. The next time, I spotted a blinking red light above the machinery. Quickly shoot it with the pistol to destroy the machine and escape unharmed.
The hero eventually discovers a tiny lab no bigger than a closet. That wouldn't be so bad, if not for the thing sitting on the table: a bisected human head. One half of the head is untouched and alive, while the other has been cut away to reveal the brain and viscera inside. A voice recording starts to describe grizzly experiments performed on unfortunate individuals like the one on the table.
Soon it becomes apparent that you'll have to engage in just such an experiment by attaching an electrical probe to the inside of the undead head. It will take some prodding (resulting in freakish sounds from the victim) to find just the right part of the brain.
Once you attach it successfully, a switch will go off in the nearby machinery. A red fluid starts to flow from the machine… and directly into one of the three valves on the door in the foyer. Sebastian will have to find the machines that unlock the other two valves and the horrors that await behind the vault door.
The Evil to come
Like Alien: Isolation, The Evil Within will offer a season pass. It will include three DLC packs for $19.99. The first focuses on the hulking monster "The Keeper," with the second and third featuring Juli Kidman, Sebastian's partner from the main game. If they're anything like the demo I played, they will offer a creepy and action-packed good time.
The Evil Within arrives on Xbox One and 360, Playstation 3 and 4, and PC on Tuesday, October 14. Preorder from Amazon to receive the "Fighting Chance pack," containing several useful weapons and items.
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