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The Evil Within: Shinji Mikami on the creation of Xbox One's first horror game

The man behind Resident Evil on how he's returning to the genre

Shinji Mikami is a man of few words. Compared to the loquaciousness of most Western developers and executives eager to reel off their latest marketing pitch, he's almost mute - possibly because his CV speaks for itself. After creating the original Resident Evil and with it the genre of survival horror, he oversaw some of Capcom's most cherished - if not most successful - releases, including Viewtiful Joe and Killer 7, as well as one-time Resi spin-off Devil May Cry.

After a dalliance with action in the flamboyant but low-selling Vanquish, he's returning to the genre he created with new studio Tango Gameworks and debut title The Evil Within for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and PC. With its distinctly last-gen graphics, mental-hospital setting and lumbering, chainsaw-wielding enemies, it's squarely in the Resident Evil mould. We asked him what it's like being back in the game.

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How has the horror game landscape changed since your last horror game? Are you still taking the same approach as you did in the past?
The first [Resident Evil] has a good balance as a horror, but as they've done sequels, they've become more and more action-oriented games. So now I want to go back to the original concept of survival horror, and make it really scary.

Since The Evil Within is a new franchise, no one knows the universe, right? It's the first time for people to experience this universe, so it's easier for us to make things more scary. If it's a sequel, people understand the universe and less things are new to them.

Are you purposefully not going after the Call of Duty market, then?
Yes, exactly.

Are you using the same tactics, or are there now different tricks you can use to mess with people's heads?
The core thing of making things scary is the atmosphere - what the player would feel. I add scary creatures, or a scary situation and scary tricks, gimmicks, but the centre is the atmosphere.

The new Kinect sensor can detect facial expressions and heartbeats. Is that something you could use?
If the new Kinect sensor is accurate enough to capture people's facial expressions, then we could be able to utilise it. That's something I'd maybe like to use at some point.

Are you going to be using the Xbox One's new triggers in any way?
That's a new way to physically touch the player. I don't have a specific idea for that at the moment, but I should be able to utilise it. Fingers are very, very sensitive, so it's a good feature.

How important is it to start the game in the real world?
Very important. It's one of the attractive things in the game - you don't really understand whether it's real or not. It's like that movie, The Ring, with the surface and the black side. You don't know if you're in the real world or not. I wouldn't want to say.

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How do resources work in the game?
We have traditional firearms in the game, but nothing fancy, because it's traditional. And our moves are quite limited, as you said. As an accent, we have traps that you could place - multiple type of traps, too - or in the game, you see traps, you disarm them.

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