Video games have always been able to delve into the depths of the grotesque in one way or another. “The Evil Within” is a video game that does not hold back from the horrors that the grotesque can create and embody. It is a survival game in the way that you are trying to keep your character alive throughout countless encounters with the disturbing, but it also comments on mental health and how the subjective experience of surviving and coping with mental health can become a sort of game of survival in itself.
Kristeva’s views of the abject fit into the video game “The Evil Within” perfectly because of the boundaries that are pushed, blurred, deformed, and mutated. This game does not only bring the player face to face with the reality of their own mortality and materiality in gruesome and horrific ways. It deals with the theme of trying to define “reality” within the psyche of a mentally ill man who has been traumatized by the death of his sister. In this way, Kristeva’s idea of the abject can be twisted together with Harpham’s idea of the interval. Although the creatures and acts that happen within “The Evil Within” are horrifying, the game in its entirety is presented in the same way that the location of the interval would reside. Throughout the game you are scared to find out what will make an appearance in this clearly disturbed man’s mind, but you know that these events will most likely have significance and provide some sort of enlightenment or understanding. All the creatures within this game tend to be filled with images of gore, deformity, mutation and hybridity.
“Mentos. They are the fresh-maker, not a crime!”
There is a point when you have to face the madman’s sister, but she is a mutated and deformed spider-like creature. At this point, in the interval, you are searching for the significance of meaning of the creature in front of you and you see that is an altered version of an ideal (Ruvik’s sister), but by not just being repulsed by it (in a narrative sense) the player sees the significance of the deformed creature and this leads to a better understanding overall.
“Hey, sis! Long time no see! You look…different!”
The main enemy is a psychopath who was traumatized as a child and grew up to become a man who made charitable donations to a mental hospital in exchange for test subjects that he could perform his experiments on. Ruvik’s mind and actions are clearly plagued with these images of the grotesque, but even his external features are grotesque. He suffered burns all over his body from the fire that claimed the life of his sister, and the rest of his skin (that doesn’t look like toasted marshmallows) is ghostly white. Once again this creates a repulsion to the player because Ruvik embodies the inevitability of death. He lacks eyebrows which strips him of a common human trait, making him seem alien-like and thus solidifying him in the role as “the other”.
The videogame “The Evil Within” feels reminiscent of the way Carson presents “Decreation” in a sort of patchwork that does have a commonality in its thread throughout all the segments. “The Evil Within” is threaded together by vivid and horrific flashbacks within the psyche of the madman, Ruvik. It questions the idea of mental stability and blurs the lines between death and life, and self and other by bringing mortality to the forefront of the player’s mind in a jarringly grotesque manner.