The Evil Within Director Plans On Bringing The Horror Back To Survival Horror

By Sato . May 2, 2013 . 1:02am

The Evil Within is an upcoming survival horror game about a detective named Sebastian and his partner, developed by Shinji Mikami’s studio, Tango Gameworks. You may recognize Mikami as the creator of the Resident Evil series, with Resident Evil 4 most commonly viewed as the bet of his contributions to videogames.


Recently, Mikami took some time off during his Golden Week break to talk about The Evil Within in a recent 4Gamer interview.


The first question was with regard to what kind of survival horror game one can expect from The Evil Within. According to Mikami, Tango went through a lot of trial and error but have recently been able to put something together that they all liked. In fact, the survival horror aspect wasn’t even part of the original plan.


Mikami explains: “Actually, the genre wasn’t survival horror to begin with, but due to circumstances, it changed entirely after going through various planning phases. Ever since becoming part of ZeniMax, we’ve had several meetings with staff members, where the words ‘I want to make a survival horror game’ were repeatedly heard. I believe that the enthusiasm shared by the staff is one of the main reasons we’ve decided to go with the genre.”


He elaborated: “Survival horror games as of late consist of many action-focused games. I’d like to make a game that can bring the focus back to the horror aspect of the genre. With those feelings in mind, we were able to shape up what we have today.”


The title, The Evil Within, was actually announced around the world, prior to the reveal of its Japanese title of PsychoBreak. The  reason for this is because the word “within” would be tough to translate in the Japanese language. Since the game is made in Japan, they wanted to go with a name that would be easy for the Japanese audience to read and remember.


Mikami states that the meaning of this title is quite simple, “The game is about surviving in a world full of psychos and the goal is to break through such a world. Thus, the name PsychoBreak, where the word ‘Psycho’ is relative to horror and ‘Break’ is to survival.”


Shinji Mikami is the executive producer at Tango Gameworks, but he’ll be serving as the director for The Evil Within. As a director, he’ll be keeping a close eye on development and making sure it sticks to the roots of the survival horror genre. Mikami says that he will personally be aiming to raise the level of quality for this project, and will especially give the horror aspect an extra push.


Due to everything from the engine, tools and staff being completely new, it took a while for Tango Gameworks to find a steady flow. Now that they’ve gotten used to how things work, they’re looking forward to begin developing with a fresh new start.


Since Mikami has served as the director and producer for Resident Evil 1 to Resident Evil 4 and the odd titles between, 4Gamer was also curious to hear his thoughts on the difference between horror and survival horror.


Mikami answers: “Horror is about being in a much weaker position, while facing a much stronger enemy, and finding a way to save your life. Escaping is the main constituent here. Survival horror is about running away at times but also managing to be on the offense. I think it’s more of a fifty-fifty. To put it simply, when you have bullets everything is good. When you don’t, you make a run for it.


“With that in mind, horror games can be cleared relatively easily if you can overcome the scary parts. However, in survival horror, it’s not about simply fearing the enemy, but you also have a chance to defeat this enemy. This makes it somewhat of a see-saw state from start to finish.”


All the horror talk prompted 4Gamer to ask whether there’s any sort of balance for people that can’t continue playing these type of games, due to being too scared. To this, Mikami simply replied: “Personally, I’d be okay with people stopping because they’re too scared.” His reason being that The Evil Within is a brand new series. There are no previous records or feedback to work around. Therefore, he’d like to see exactly how many people will actually stop playing for that reason.


He further explains: “We have plenty of mixed motives. In order to be able to say ‘So this is what we need to do to fit in the gaming industry,’ we’re working without having any considerations on specific countries or eras. The Evil Within’s key word isn’t suspense, but ‘mysterious’. Not knowing what’s going on will bring the horror out, but the strength also lies within the desire of wanting to know more. That’s the kind of theme I’m looking forward to making.”


The Evil Within is slated for release for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and unspecified next generation consoles in 2014.

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  • Rohan Viajar

    Personally, I want it so scary I’d want to put down the controller for a bit.

  • Hope this game works out for him, the media will be all over this

    He looks confident though so I’m sure he’s ready

  • ResidentMetroid

    For it to be scary for me the game would have to do a few things. Like make the player practically powerless, every encounter with a monster/psycho is unscripted and has different patterns; also have a sense of loneliness like you’re the only person alive.

    • Sekai-jin

      Sound is also important. Like the situation alone in dark, then hearing a monster/psycho footstep and their breath.

      The surprise element also make a great horror game, monster come out of nowhere will scare the shit out of the player.

  • badmoogle

    “Mikami answers: “Horror is about being in a much weaker position, while facing a much stronger enemy, and finding a way to save your life. Escaping is the main constituent here. Survival horror is about running away at times but also managing to be on the offense. I think it’s more of a fifty-fifty.”

    I think the translator got this part wrong.

  • Göran Isacson

    Interesting statement about survival horror being about “switching” between being capable and being powerless. In a game like Amnesia, you’re practically ALWAYS powerless whereas in a game like Resident Evil and Silent Hill one can, if one is just economic enough, amass a pretty potent arsenal. I do wonder if this game will manage to be scary even for veterans of the genre, and if they will do something to throw off expectations and make it harder to “spot the holes” so to speak, see through the games logic and figure out how to put themselves in the “powerful” state as much as possible. If they can manage that, they can probably manage horror.

    • JustThisOne

      Spoilers ahoy for Silent Hill Downpour.

      I feel like the devs of Downpour somehow expected me to hoard every bullet I had. A two different points of the game, you drop all your weapons. While frustrating to some people, I thought it was a really well-played trick on those survival horror veterans that are used to amassing arsenals. :P I hope these guys are able to do something similar…

      Or perhaps he won’t have a pocket dimension pocket. Maybe the main character can only carry as much as he can hold in his hands and pockets.

      • Göran Isacson

        That could be a neat trick, yes. Another would be to do the latter, really ensure that you can’t just encumber yourself with a ton of different tools and possibly give you more items than you can carry, so you need to juggle them and try to determine what works best for each situation.

  • riceisnice

    They’ve always said that if you want a real challenge in the entertainment business, make something horror genre.

    People have become so used to the spookie boo! things that it’s become harder to scar them for life.

    • revenent hell

      Something can be scary without being gory or super spooky.
      Its atmosphere, music ,setting…..Combined well you can get a really creepy game without having to be explicit in gore or anything. In horror less is more, you know?
      I love horror no matter what video games, books, movies ect.. the down side is now a days people focus on the aesthetic of it and not on the feeling it should be portraying.
      That’s why to me “old school” horror far outshines that of todays, they tended to have less of a budget and items on hand like high tech computer graphics(movies/games for example) so they had to focus on feeling and atmosphere, now a days its to easy to simulate what they want so the overall feeling lacks greatly

  • This was a great interview, and Mikami seems to know what he’s doing.

    I agree to him about the whole 50 50 power situation when dealing with horror, but what would really scare me the most is something like a

    “No matter how much power I have, there’s still nothing I can do situation.”

    Especially when it comes to dealing with the psychotic and deranged that could happen often. I’m not sure if there’s going to be a supernatural element to the game, but the best example I can give for games is F.E.A.R. (The First Game). I felt confident in my ability to survive and go through the levels, but whenever Alma showed up I was immediately thrown out of my comfort zone, and was just like “shit, shit” while just hoping I wouldn’t die as I stood there helpless, powerless to do anything, hoping the transition would end lol

    On a side note in the first picture Mikami really looked like an older Ash Ketchum to me lol =P

    • revenent hell

      I thought that myself :D

    • Hey what’s your PSN?

      • AzureNova01al

        Love your avatar by the way. Tohka is my favorite in Date A Live =^_^=

        • Thanks ^ ^ and I love yours too, Sasha is amazing ^ ^
          incoming add

  • revenent hell

    “Survival horror games as of late consist of many action-focused games. I’d like to make a game that can bring the focus back to the horror aspect of the genre. With those feelings in mind, we were able to shape up what we have today.”
    This is precisely why I don’t play survival horror anymore. I adore horror games and I adore survival horror but as of late the “horror” becomes redundant and most seem to focus on the “survival” or action more than anything else.
    I wouldn’t play a game with its genre as horror if that wasn’t what I wanted to play, I’m not blaming “a” game per se, but a good group of them, don’t dumb down the horrific bits just so the focus can be on action.
    Gameplay is important yes but if the horror in it isn’t there you shouldn’t market it as a survival horror game. Its an action survival game, not horror./end rant

  • Kalis Konig

    Sounds like what every horror game director says to me. Here’s to hoping this won’t disappoint.

  • TVippy

    Mikami seems so old and sad here.

    • Patrick Lucas Honeyman

      Maybe. Or you could say he is wise and experienced, knowing the genre well and will bring to gamers a quality title that will freak us out multiple times over.

      I’m hopeful for this and believe it’s in the right hands. I wonder if this game will capture some old-school Resident Evil fans who have become jaded with that series’ path in the last few years?

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