Video Game: The Evil Within

The Evil Within is an 2014 videogame by Shinji Mikami, published by Bethesda, and is said to be an attempt to return to Survival Horror.

The story is about a detective, Sebastian Castellanos, who is beginning an investigation of a huge homicide in Beacon Mental Hospital with his partners, Joseph Oda and Juli "Kid" Kidman. After a short venture into the building, the trio view a man on a security tape moving at insane speeds, and are drawn into a reality-altering nightmare. As the world shifts and changes around him, Sebastian struggles to survive. As he fights against a legion of horrific monstrosities, Sebastian's world begins to unravel, and it appears that not all is how it seems to be...

The Evil Within has the following Tropes:

  • Action Girl: For a rookie, Juli Kidman is a good shot with her gun. Then again, she apparently is not a rookie.
  • Actionized Sequel: Inverted with The Assignment and The Consequence, which has relatively little combat and a much larger focus on stealth and interactive story sequences. Instead, she gets far less weapons, an Enemy Detecting Radar, and a Take Cover mechanic.
  • Adult Fear: It's revealed in notebooks you find lying around that Sebastian and Myra lost their five-year-old child in a house fire. In the same vein, young Ruben and Laura are trapped in a barn that's set on fire by begrudged townsfolk; Laura dies, while Ruben is left very badly scarred (both physically and mentally.)
  • Affectionate Nickname: Sebastian gets called 'Seb' by Joseph, which is turned on its head when Ruvik corners Sebastian and uses the same nickname to establish just how much control he has over everyone.
  • All Just a Dream: According to Shinji Mikami himself, the game takes place within the mind of an insane individual, if not several. The STEM system causes Ruvik to have conscious effect upon the world, but everyone linked to STEM has a part in it. This isn't a good thing, as in the STEM system, Your Mind Makes It Real, and you can die in real life if you die in the dreams.
    • Even worse: Sebastian and his friends may have been in a dreamworld even before you drive to the hospital at the start of the game; unless Ruvik was somehow able to kill people as a mental projection from a brain in a jar in the real world, he couldn't have killed all those people in the lobby. This is also supported by the radio in their police car going haywire and emitting the same Brown Note screech that plagues the group while they're in the dreamworld. Which means you're in some sort of layered reality: first you're in Real-ish World, get sucked into Ruvik's mind via a STEM system within the Real-ish world, then get sucked into a further iteration later (we see Sebastian wake himself up from being connected to a STEM twice). Mind Screw does not even begin to describe it. The latter can be explained away as Juli putting Sebastian back into the tub after he destroys Ruvik's brain and faints in order to trick her colleagues into thinking he died in the simulation (allowing him to sneak away and go free later on). This is supported by the fact that Sebastian doesn't have the connecting wire attached to his spine the second time he wakes up. However, there is still no explanation as to how Ruvik could kill people in the real world if they weren't attached to the STEM machine.
    • The Consequence sheds a little more light on this. It's revealed that the STEM system in the hospital is operated by wireless transmission. Jimenez activated the STEM just as Sebastian and Co were on their way to the hospital (Signified by the squealing noise they heard on the radio.), pulling them into the STEM system and into Ruvik's reality.
  • All There in the Manual: The model viewer you unlock after beating the game fleshes out the characters a little more and shows the name of each monster and their backstory.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Is Ruvik in Leslie's body? Did he die before being successfully transported into the machine? Did Sebastian even see Lesie or was it his imagination? Where is Joseph? Is Sebastian awake, or just in a another dream layer? Lots of unanswered questions.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: You can almost hear Sebastian thinking "Fuck. My. Life." when he sees the giant spinning carousel with prison cages attached to the top (and snipers who use them as cover), a deadly maze filled with traps below, and two room-spanning giant blades of death that will kill anyone who isn't ducking underneath them. Complete with carnie music! It's implied that the whole nightmare is based on an amusement park Ruvik went to once.
  • Anachronism Stew: Deliberately invoked in some areas of the game, such as a medieval church that has electrical lights and elevators, which is pointed out by Joseph. Later justified, in that said locations are literally fantasies of Ruvik's, and don't need to hew closely to era-appropriate tech.
  • And Your Little Dog Too: A more sinister variation; to show that he has the upper hand (and because he loves tormenting people), Ruvik sets out bait that will deliberately get his victims worked up. It's implied that this is why Joseph is constantly in danger, in order to get an emotional response out of his partner Sebastian.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The game allows you to decrease the difficulty level in the mid of the game if you think it is too much for you to handle. However you cannot increase the difficulty level once you have lowered it down.
    • The game can be very scarce with checkpoints, but when reaching a sequence where you're fighting or working around multiple Haunted, you'll get a checkpoint when you've made significant progress.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Heresy and Ruvik.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Implied Trope, as Ruvik completed his goal of getting to Leslie, which allowed him to escape to the real world in a new body.
  • Bear Trap: Some of the traps encountered in the game.
  • Big Bad: Ruvik, the enigmatic hooded man responsible for pulling you into his twisted world.
  • The Blank: At one point, Sebastian will run into Leslie in the Asylum. When he turns to face Sebastian, his face is a smooth, eerily-glowing reflective surface.
  • Blood Bath: There's a pool in the hospital that's filled with blood and human remains.
  • Bedlam House: The mental hospital seems to have been a front for scientists to randomly stick needles, barbed wire, and questionable substances into test subjects. And to ship victims to Ruvik for his "research." And eventually, for Ruvik and Dr. Jimenez to collaborate on their brain-connecting machine.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sebastian manages to escape from the machine (and possibly destroy Ruvik's brain), exposing the operation to the masses. Unfortunately, it's highly likely that Ruvik managed to escape from the machine into Leslie's body, and is now free to roam the city. Alongside this, Joseph is nowhere to be found and Kidman's goals remain unknown.
    • With The Assignment and The Consequence, the STEM is revealed to have a remote signal, and that Jimenez activated it while inside Beacon Hospital, regardless of those - likely Sebastian and his partners - caught up in it, trapping them in the STEM with Ruvik. Kidman and Sebastian may have escaped, but several innocent people who were going about their day were either slaughtered or driven to madness inside the STEM.
    • Further still, at the end of The Consequence, Kidman ends up with a strange mark on her arm and no memory of how she got outside of the STEM. We hear The Director's voice over her's one final time, implying she might not have escaped after all.
  • Body Horror
    • Many of the enemies are twisted and warped in visceral ways, and they seem to favor mutilation. In general, the game has a theme of driving objects into the brain while its owner's still alive and wrapping skin in barbed wire - tightly. Even the upgrade system appears to be sticking things into Sebastian's brain.
    • At one point in the game Sebastian himself has to stick needles into brains as part of a puzzle; what makes it truly squicky is that the decapitated heads still look around while you operate on them.
    • Blow part of a zombie's head off and you may notice their brain is covered in barbed wire.
  • Body Motifs: There's a lot of focus on images of the human brain.
  • Book Ends: Sebastian begins the game by entering Beacon Mental Hospital with his two partners. Sebastian re-enters the hospital in the final chapter of the game for the final show-down with Ruvik. The game concludes with Sebastian finally leaving the hospital, albeit having lost both of his partners.
    • When Sebastian leaves the hospital in the first chapter, Joseph is missing. When Sebastian leaves the hospital yet again in the final chapter, Joseph is missing once more.
  • Boom, Headshot: If you land a critical with a gun then the enemy's head will erupt in a fountain of blood. The same effect can be achieved if you or Joseph use an axe on an enemy. However, not all headshots are critical hits, and it's just as possible to just shoot off half of the target's head and have them still come at you, albeit damaged.
  • Boss Battle: Several; all of the "oh dear god run for your life" variety.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: You get superweapons for New Game+; they're overpowered and ruin the balance of the game, but this is after you already beat it. You have to beat the game (without using any of these rewards) to unlock them: a machine gun, a rocket launcher, and insta-kill brass knuckles.
  • Brain in a Jar: Ruvik may have been turned into one, by Dr. Jimenez.
  • Brain Washed: Implied by Tatiana that Sebastian's memories aren't all that he thinks they are.
    Tatiana: "Memories are vague things indeed. It can be easy at times for memories to be distorted by others. That is why they must be cherished..."
  • Broken Bridge: Happens frequently.
  • Brown Note: Occasionally there will be a screech that causes the protagonists to be hit with a splitting headache, and seems to progress their mutation into a Haunted (Joseph and Sebastian briefly turn after experiencing one, but are able to revert back to normal afterwards). Juli, strangely, is immune to it.
  • Chainsaw Good: Ha ha ha...no. No, it isn't. Not when your enemies have it. Though one retrieved from a dead monster does serve as a brief quest item.
    • Controllable Helplessness: And at one point, said monster slices your leg pretty badly, forcing you to limp around as he pursues you.
  • The Corruption: The process in which a person turns into one of the Haunted: first they start coughing up blood, then their skin begins to bleed and pus, then they lose control of themselves and attack anyone in the vicinity, until eventually they become the glowy-eyed not-zombies you fight in the game. Joseph struggles with it for most of the game, and Sebastian starts to fall prey to it too.
  • Creepy Child: As a boy, Ruvik enjoyed dissecting things a bit too much.
  • Creepy Doll: One loading screen features a bunch of bloody mannequins, whose eyes move slowly around.
  • Cute Kitten: "Save Cat" in The Assignment. When you save the game, a black cat with a red ribbon round its neck appears for Kidman to stroke.
  • Damsel in Distress: Happens twice to Juli; first when she's trapped in a box slowly filling up with water, and again when she's surrounded by Haunted and needs Sebastian's help to escape. For the most part though she can take care of herself, and it's actually more common for her co-worker Joseph to be the one in trouble. However, it's subverted as shown in The Assignment and The Consequence, as she was never actually a damsel in distress.
  • Deadly Nosebleed: Given that nosebleeds only happen if someone's reverted back from being a Haunted, this could be an inversion.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
    • Turning either model of Laura in the model viewer will cause her hair to flow as if you were turning a real miniature with fake hair strands.
      • This is true for every model with long hair or clothing. Tatiana's ponytail and skirt will swish around, as will Laura's dress, Sebastian's trenchcoat and Ruvik and the Doc's lab coats. The Alter Ego's will also pulse like they do in the game. Hell, if you look closely even Sebastian's hair will move when you turn him.
    • If you blow open a Haunted's head to get a good look at its brain, then you can see it's been wrapped in barbed wire.
  • Dirty Business: Kidman hesitates and begins to cry when about to shoot Leslie in the back of the head, showing that while she really doesn't want to kill such an innocent, she has to in order to prevent Ruvik from escaping the STEM system.
  • Distressed Dude:
    • Joseph takes this role in the chapters that he is present; he's thrown into dangerous situations and it's always Sebastian who must rescue him. Played for laughs when Joseph loses his glasses, and it is Sebastian's job to retrieve them. It is later strongly implied that Ruvik places Joseph into these situations to evoke a response from Sebastian.
    • Leslie is being hunted down by Ruvik and by Juli, so spends most of the game hiding or running away in fear.
  • Downloadable Content: Three DLC packs: The Assignment and The Consequence will explore what Juli Kidman did during the events of the main game. In the third DLC, the player takes the role of The Keeper.
  • The Dreaded: Ruvik is too deadly to be fought, and must be eluded. He simply "phases out" when you shoot at him, and even trying to get close to him results in an instant death.
  • Driven to Suicide: Joseph tries to shoot himself to avoid turning into a Haunted. Sebastian tackles him before he can. His speech afterwards implies that this may not be the first time he's thought of it either.
    Joseph: "Sebastian... You ever have the urge to just jump when you're on a high place, or the subway rolls by?
  • Dropped Glasses: Played for laughs. Hesitant, dreadfilled laughs.
  • Drop the Hammer: The Keeper's weapon of choice is a massive hammer. You'll learn to fear it.
  • Early Game Hell: In Chapter 1, you have no weapons at all and must limp or sneak your way past a chainsaw maniac who will kill you in one hit. In Chapter 2, you get a gun and may find a couple of bullets for it if you're lucky (and you still need to rely almost entirely on stealth to make it through, if you can't lead a few into the ambient booby-traps). Chapter 3 takes place in a small but intricate maze of a village full of Haunted who would like to stab you, guarded by a sniper in the center of town, but stealth and smart maneuvering can let you backstab a few or throw them into traps, and exploration rewards you with some significant new weapons. As you progress you also find green fluid to upgrade yourself with and you can start carrying more than five measly bullets at once. By the end of the game you'll probably have an impressive arsenal at your command and the enemies that gave you so much hell before are not nearly as threatening.
  • Eldritch Location:
    • At least part of Sebastian's adventure takes place in a strange reality that's accessed through a mysterious mirror... and it's unclear whether this is real, or something that's happening in Sebastian's head. Or, according to Word of God, in someone else's head that he's going through.
    • Another example: Sebastian, at one point, finds himself in a tranquil field of sunflowers, with a barn in the distance... except that the sky is a stark, harsh yellow, and the barn is in complete silhouette. Clearly, something isn't normal here.
    • The game more or less starts out this way, when you find yourself waking up in an elaborate slaughterhouse beneath the hospital with impossible, impractical whirling blade hallways. There is no possible way this thing could actually be beneath the hospital, no matter how unethical they were.
  • Enemy Detecting Radar: Included in "The Assignment" without an in-story justification, mainly to make the more stealth-focused gameplay viable.
  • Escort Mission:
    • Finding Joseph in the lower levels of Beacon leads to Sebastian having to escort him through several areas crawling with The Haunted. Luckily he has decent health, will actively try to avoid getting hit, and usually packs a custom .45 caliber M1911A1 with infinite ammo, meaning that for many of the fights you can just draw enemies away from him while he blasts them to pieces. Later segments have him either wielding a long-handle axe or a Sniper Rifle from a safe area.
    • In a couple of areas Juli will also be part of the group; unlike Joseph she doesn't have a health bar, and she's often only with you for a few minutes before you're separated again.
  • Establishing Series Moment: Waking up in a literal human slaughterhouse with a merciless sadist wielding a chainsaw. Dark, bloody, disgusting, and very tense, it sets the tone for the rest of the game.
  • Evil Albino: Ruvik (possibly) in Leslie's body would definitely qualify.
  • Evil Is Visceral: The game frequently focuses on how badly warped the monsters are, and the horrific results of the experiments that created them.
  • Expy: Many characters from this game seem rather strongly inspired by characters from Resident Evil 4, one of Shinji Mikami's previous works. Sebastian, Juli, and Jimenez have similar personalities or character roles as Leon, Ada, and Luis respectively. This even applies to some of the enemies; the Sadist is similar in function and appearance to Dr. Salvador, for example.
  • Fanservice: After you get Kidman out of her water prison her bra is visible through her wet shirt.
  • Final Boss: The Amalgam, driven by Ruvik.
  • Fire Keeps It Dead: Fire not only is extremely effective on almost every enemy, but it also prevents enemies from rising to fight you in the first place. The reason is connected.
  • For Science!: The following exchange embodies this trope:
    Dr. Jimenez: You can show me your experiments. I can show you "things".
    Ruvik: You wouldn't like them. You'd think they're gross.
    Dr. Jimenez: In science, one must do any number of things a lay person may find... disgusting. I've done things many others would consider... distasteful.
  • Genius Loci: Since Sebastian is slogging through other peoples' (mainly Ruvik's) mind and memories, it frequently morphs and reacts to his presence or actions.
  • Gorn: The game is dripping with blood and gore (sometimes literally). Giant pools of human blood, exposed brains, human slaughterhouses, and the sheer amount of blood for the final boss make it one of the goriest games ever.
  • Grand Theft Me: Ruvik's plan is to possess Leslie's body, and he may have succeeded.
  • Greater Need Than Mine: When Sebastian and Joseph are being assaulted by Ruvik in the church, Sebastian opts to use a health syringe on Joseph rather than focus on his own safety.
  • Guilt By Association Gag: Played for Drama. After escaping his basement prison, Ruvik not only killed his father (who arguably deserved it for treating him as dead and not telling anyone he was alive), but also killed his mother, who didn't have anything to do with his imprisonment and didn't even know of his survival.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The barn being on fire, Laura pushes her brother out of the window in order to save him at the cost of her own life. Unfortunately, this drove him off the deep end.
  • Hub Level: "The Asylum", an off-color version of Beacon Hospital's nurse station that can be accessed by staring into various broken mirrors scattered throughout the game. Not only is it the only place to save, but there's a rather creepy nurse keeping it safe. It also has lockers with ammo and items but you need to find the keys for each. It's also one of the few areas that is always safe. Usually.
  • Humanoid Abomination:
    • Ruvik. Aside from being absurdly powerful and essentially implacable, he's also a Reality Warper that can summon monsters. He also turns into a humanoid cloud of blood particles to pursue Sebastian at some points. In the final battle he assumes an even ''worse'' form to fight Sebastian.
    • There's also the Sadist (the most normal-looking of the lot, albeit still being bloody, scarred, and wearing an iron mask), The Keeper (who looks completely human except for the safe in place of a head) and Laura (who has two more arms than she should and gets around on all fours).
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: There are 4 difficulty levels in this game, each with their own description:
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Keeper, in addition to his hammer, swings around a sack with nails sticking out of it. The character viewer implies that this sack holds the head of one of his victims. For all the weirdness of it, the sack with a nail filled head turns out to be surprisingly effective weapon.
  • Incest Subtext: Laura was very protective of her brother Ruben (who is known to the player as Ruvik), with... an interesting amount of detail to a description of the former through various notes left throughout the game. Even more so as the Laura creature Sebastian encounters throughout the game is a case of Full-Frontal Assault.
  • Injured Player Character Stage: In the first chapter, Sebastian is injured, and can only limp around (as well as being unarmed). This forces the player to learn the stealth mechanics.
  • Interface Screw:
    • Using full health kits—particularly in a dangerous area—isn't recommended, since the overdose of medication can cause hallucinations. Thankfully, using smaller health kits doesn't cause this effect.
    • Whenever the Keeper regenerates, the screen stutters and leaves brief after-images when Sebastian moves around (a similar effect happens in the Asylum when it's in its unsafe monochrome state).
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Sebastian can punch through boxes, vases, and mannequins without (seemingly) causing any harm to his hands. Invoked big time when melee is maxed out; Sebastian can literally punch the FACE off a Haunted and brush it off as no big deal.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Played straight with Ruvik, who basically gets off scot free if his possession of Leslie was successful.
    • Subverted and played straight with Juli, who despite being somewhat of an antagonist, never really does anything wrong to Sebastian, and even covers for him in the ending. On the other hand, she doesn't seem to face repercussions for shooting Joseph (even if it was an accident).
  • Kaiju:
    • Played straight with Heresy, complete with it rampaging through the desolate streets of Krimson City, and chasing after a bus the trio are driving, in a homage to both Kaiju films and Jurassic Park.
    • Also played straight with Ruvik's final form.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • Enemies need to be burned in order to keep them down.
    • Laura's only vulnerability is to fire based attacks, from fiery weaponry to explosions.
    • This is also Ruvik's one psychological weakness, hence why it is so effective.
    • When Sebastian first sits in the upgrade chair the entire room, including Nurse Tatiana, bursts into flames. Fortunately it's just a hallucination.
  • Knee-capping: A strategy that the loading screens advocate for, as shooting the target Haunted in the leg will cause him or her to fall on the ground, enabling a match-based fire kill.
  • Lighthouse Point: Beacon Hospital's namesake is the light beacon on the top of it. It is also where Ruvik's STEM machinery is located.
  • Lightning Reveal: One loading screen has a dark window that occasionally shows a monster illuminated behind it when lighting strikes.
  • Mad Scientist: Someone's been doing some crazy experiments with the brain.
  • Made of Iron: Sebastian can take a lot of abuse, especially in cutscenes. Seeing as this literally is taking place in everyone's minds, his durability is justified.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: During the climax when Juli is about to shoot Leslie, the latter starts panicking and screams loud enough to break all the glass in the buildings nearby and disorientate everybody. This doesn't make the situation much better, as Juli ends up shooting Joseph instead in the ensuing panic.
  • Malevolent Masked Men:
    • Mooks later in the game sometimes wear creepy white masks; they serve a practical purpose, as it's harder to score a headshot without breaking the masks first.
    • The Sadist also wears an iron mask that covers his mouth.
  • Man in White: Ruvik wears a white robe as part of his outfit. This serves to make him seem even more wraithlike, standing out amidst his dark surroundings.
  • Man on Fire: You can't throw a match at a living zombie, but if they're on the ground, even when stunned, one match will finish them off as they light up immediately. There are ways of lighting other living enemies on fire, though: use a match on a haystack and kick the haystack in the direction of an enemy, swing a torch at one, or, if you're clever, lighting a corpse on the ground and letting the flames set the enemy on fire too. The last one has an achievement for burning up multiple active enemies this way (and one boss fight also requires this).
  • The Many Deaths of You: There are many ways for Sebastian to bite it. Gutted by sharp blades, falling prey to death traps, head smashed in by a multi-armed Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl... yeah. If you die, the game's going to make sure that you feel it.
  • Market-Based Title: The game is called "Psychobreak" in Japan.
  • Mind Hive: A variation. The STEM network has the combined memories of every person connected to it, even those who died while connected. Therefore, the entire Eldritch Location that is where the plot takes place amounts to an example of this trope, only controlled by Ruvik.
  • Mind Screw: A large portion of the game is several layers of insane stuff happening at once. Some notable examples:
    • Sebastian is captured by the Sadist at the beginning of the game, and enters a huge facility of some kind underneath Beacon Mental. The sheer size of the place makes no sense relative to the rest of the Asylum.
    • At approximately the halfway point, Sebastian encounters the Keeper, aka Boxhead. After killing him, the body disappears- and when Sebastian passes by another safe, a strange metallic sound plays as the Keeper materializes from the safe.
    • There are multiple times where Sebastian will fall through a hallway and smack into the ground, only for the camera to rotate and show that he wasn't being thrown down a hallway, but instead through it, and that gravity has now re-adjusted itself so that the floor he just smacked into is now a wall facing his back.
    • Sebastian disconnects himself from the STEM machine three times, each time waking up in a new reality.
  • Mood Whiplash: After spending the majority of the game seeing unspeakable horrors, Sebastian finds Juli and Leslie in a colorful playground full of bubbles. Juli even tells Leslie that she'll protect him. Then, Leslie almost takes a bullet to the brainpan and Joseph actually takes one in the chest.
  • Morality Chain: Laura is this to Ruvik. Once she is declared to be dead, Ruvik goes off further into their madness.
  • Mysterious Backer: Mobius is this in "The Assignment" for Juli Kidman. Also an Ambiguously Evil Nebulous Evil Organization.
  • Mysterious Watcher: In chapter 9, a man can be seen watching Sebastian through one of the library windows of Ruvik's mansion. It's notable that no reference to this man is ever made in official game material and he is not commented on by Sebastian - he just watches you until you get too close, and then walks away and disappears, marking his first and last appearance in the game. A body wearing the same shirt can be found near where the man stood watching Sebastian, but upon a more detailed inspection it's easy to see that the body doesn't belong to the man who was watching you.
  • New Game+: In addition to unlocking the Nightmare and AKUMU difficulties, beating the game will allow you to play through it again with all the weapons and upgrades you had at the end, and unlock two new weapons: a machine gun and the rocket launcher you used against the final boss.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Zigzagged with Sebastian preventing Juli from killing Leslie. It's possible that Ruvik was therefore successful in possessing Leslie's body (which would also count as Being Good Sucks, as if he wasn't so set on saving Leslie, this would not have happened). Yet at the same time, his protecting Leslie saved both his life and Juli's, since killing Leslie would likely have had terrible repercussions: with his only method of escape lost, Ruvik would likely have gone AM on the two of them, and would have spent the rest of their lives inventing newer and more horrific methods of torturing the two of them in retaliation.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Early on Sebastian finds himself being pursued by a chainsaw-wielding lunatic through a series of hallways in a butcher's factory—and one of them involved spinning grinders on either side, with no fences to prevent the careless from getting minced. Justified, because you're going through the mind of a lunatic.
  • No Sell: Kidman would seem to be this, as she appears to shrug off the sonic headaches that plague Sebastian and Joseph throughout the adventure.
  • Not Using the Zed Word: The zombies are called "Haunted" by the model viewer but given no name by the characters in-game; just "them" or "those things!"
  • Off with His Head!:
    • One of the death animations involves Sebastian getting his head chainsawed off (in a clear nod to one of the ways Leon could die in Resident Evil 4).
    • The Haunted use a guillotine to lop off the head of a hapless NPC, and attempt to do the same thing to an incapacitated Joseph.
    • The Keeper can do this to its own safe-head, in order to respawn using a safe in a different location.
  • One-Hit Kill: Loads. The Haunted can be OHKO'd if you score a critical headshot, or if you attack them with an axe or torch. Conversely, many of the bosses have an attack that can kill Sebastian in one hit, ramping up the difficulty of boss fights.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: "The Haunted" seem to be totally normal people who have mentally succumbed to an evil force that's turned almost all of them into monsters. They have glowing eyes and many of them have a lot of impalements or barbed wire wrapped around them (which, in the cutscene where they first appear, is shown manifesting and wrapping around them). They're also smart enough to use weapons.
  • Poor Communication Kills: As a result of not explaining goals and the reasoning behind a Shoot the Dog action, Kidman accidentally kills Joseph when he lunges at her to stop her from killing Leslie.
  • Portmanteau: Ruvik's name is revealed to be this. Ruben Victoriano.
  • Puzzle Boss: Laura can only be destroyed by fire, and can appear near pools of blood (most often near a corpse). Burning a corpse keeps her from blood-teleporting to your location, but in the proper boss fight with her you need to rely on a bunch of fiery environmental hazards and quick thinking to kill her for good (for example, don't burn a corpse until after she's next to it, and she'll light on fire herself!)
  • Rare Candy: Angel Statue keys, the only way to open up the lockers full of valuable ammunition and green gel in the Hub Level. They're almost all very well-hidden and each can only be used once.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: Many impossible things are happening on top of one another. While you don't see things phasing in and out of existence before your very eyes, Alien Geometry likes to kick in with regards to a lot of areas when your back is turned. You have no idea why looking at cracked mirrors brings you to the save point/upgrade system asylum or why injections to the head you get there make you stronger. People don't just become zombies, they become cracked abominations covered in barbed wire that grows out of nowhere. There are numerous reports as early as Chapter 1 that the doctors were experimenting on a kind of shared consciousness involving nightmares, but the end result seems to be that all of reality has become one GIANT nightmare.
  • Red Shirt: Poor Connelly only makes it one chapter, two if you count killing his Haunted form in the forest.
  • Reviving Enemy:
    • Haunted will sometimes get back up again after a while if they aren't burnt with matches (which the player has a limited supply of).
    • The boss battle against the Keeper can revive anywhere one of his safes is, and will even rip his own head off and kill himself just to respawn closer to Sebastian.
      • This is actually a good thing, as the Keeper drops Green Gel each time he dies. And he deploys traps that can be scavenged for ammo to kill him again. Talk about a renewable resource! Note that the number of safes, and consequently the number of respawns, is limited.
  • Rule of Cool: The simplest explanation for why the player character, a modern detective, dresses the way he does and still carries a revolver.
  • Scenery Gorn: After first escaping the mental hospital and finding the city being wiped out. The Final Boss gets this pretty good too, what with a Battle in the Center of the Mind over an apocalyptic wasteland filled with all sorts of viscera.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • If you hang around during the intro level and wait for the Sadist to return to the corpse he was working on, you can try and do a stealth kill on him. This works about as well as expected. At least until his Boss Battle, in which it is possible.
    • Chapter 13 has an outright hilarious example - a haunted is crouched in the centre of a room, glowing red... The player will get a bit confused and approach the haunted, only for it to rapidly stand up and run straight for you. It's at this moment that you realise the red glow came from the bombs that were stuck to the front of the Haunted. Sebastian is caught in the explosion, and suddenly, a door opens next to you with another haunted covered in bombs. Sebastian will be unable to get up in time and will be caught in yet another explosion. Some nice trolling, Ruvik!
  • Sequel Hook: If the implication that Ruvik managed to successfully possess Leslie's body is true, then things aren't quite over. Also, we still know very little about the Organization Kidman works for, as well as the sideplot concerning the death of Sebastian's daughter and the disappearance of his wife and the fact that Joseph's body is missing at the end.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Sebastian and Joseph both look pretty snazzy in their ties and waistcoats; Sebastian also (briefly) has a Badass Longcoat, while Joseph has black leather gloves.
  • Shoot the Dog: Kidman tries to do this to Leslie in order to prevent the Evil Plan from coming to fruition. Since Poor Communication Kills, this doesn't work out.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Big cartoonish padlocks, in fact. Or you could punch it open, saves ammo.
  • Shout-Out: Oh so many:
    • At one point, Sebastian is going down a long hallway when the doors at the far end open and a tidal wave of blood rushes at him. Now where have we seen that before?
    • When you see the white-robed, hooded Ruvik on the asylum's roof, it seems to give rise to elements of Assassin's Creed for the color of the attire, and Prototype for the sheer brutality of his kills.
    • After he escapes from the asylum at the start of the game, Sebastian jumps into an ambulance with his partners and they take off as the road starts falling apart behind them and buildings start collapsing, much like the first driving sequence in Alone In The Dark 2008. Except here, it's only a cutscene and it's turned Up to Eleven when it looks like an entire city block is rotating.
    • The achievement for beating The Keeper is "What's In The Box?!"
    • Not to mention there is an achievement called "Master of Unlocking" in another obvious reference to the infamous voice acting of Resident Evil.
    • The scene right after the Ambulance crash where Sebastian is suddenly being wheeled through a dilapidated hospital on a gurney is an obvious reference to Jacob's Ladder.
    • The "unable to tell what's really real" is reminiscent of Silent Hill. A more specific reference to Silent Hill 2 occurs when Sebastian falls down a vertical shaft, except the walls make it look like he's falling down a hallway in a building with the gravity sideways. The exact same thing happened to James in Silent Hill 2, during James' descent beneath the Silent Hill Historical Society.
      • Silent Hill fans probably had a flashback when they first met Tatiana. If her uniform doesn't make you think you gone to the infamous Alchemilla Hospital, then the spontaneous fire break immediately after certainly sealed the deal.
      • The Keeper is very reminiscent of Pyramid Head as an Implacable Man figure. In a further reference, late in the game you get to fight two Keepers at once. The camera angle and their apparition, each on the side of a door, are again very reminiscent of the fight with the twin Pyramid Heads in SH 2.
    • The end of Chapter 12, when Ruvik uses his powers to make the school bus the heroes are driving sail past him and through a building, could perhaps be a nod to AKIRA.
    • The Heresy boss, is a massive monster with insect-like legs and it looks just like the infected people from Junji Ito's Gyo.
    • During the open area fight in Chapter 6, it's possible for Joseph to fall over a ledge, catching himself with one hand. If you can pull him up in time, you get an achievement called "Everybody Gets One", presumably a reference to this Family Guy gag.
    • The game's Big Bad, Ruvik, is a ridiculously powerful Reality Warper and Implacable Man, takes great pleasure in torturing his victims, and has a pathological fear of fire. Just like somebody else Jackie Earle Haley played...
  • Sibling Incest: The game's character designer implies this with Laura to Ruvik.
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: When he's not actively chasing you, the Keeper tends to carry his hammer with just one hand, letting the head scrape across the floor. This is the easiest way to know where he is when he reappears in the destroyed hotel building. Taken up to eleven at one point where he starts dragging the hammer while it has a corpse impaled on the spike. The corpse in question is impaled through the head.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
  • Spiritual Successor: To Resident Evil 4.
  • Spooky Painting: One loading screen has its focus on the portrait of the Victoriano family, which shows three of their faces slowly distorting.
  • Statistically Speaking: Inverted; Sebastian is strong enough to destroy wooden boxes and iron chains with ease, but his melee damage is pitiful unless you upgrade it.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Laura, who also has lots of arms with clawed fingers.
  • Surreal Symbolic Heads: The Keeper, which has a safe covered in barbed wire in place of a human head. It represents Ruvik's anger at Jimenez breaking into his safe to steal research.
  • Survival Horror: This game marks Shinji Mikami's return to this genre.
  • Sword Drag: The Keeper drags his hammer when he's not aware of where you are.
  • Take Cover: A mechanic added to the "The Assignment" DLC.
  • Take Your Time: In chapter 5 you and Joseph are tasked with fending off a few waves of monsters while Kidman is trapped in a Plexiglas boxnote  that's slowly filling with what we'll assume is just dirty water. No matter how long it takes to kill them, thoroughly loot the surrounding area, and finally get around to talking to Joseph, she'll just keep treading water inside the tank, which by this time is guaranteed to be full up to the top. At this point, you suddenly have a limited time to trace the water to its source and turn it off (which only has any useful effect because it's yet another thing in the game that runs on dream logic), which requires going through a door that was just locked a moment ago. The meter in the corner of your screen depicts a tank slowly filling with water. Despite, again, the tank being already full when it starts.
  • A Taste Of Their Own Medicine: How Sebastian feels about Ruvik's situation, which is why he never falls for any attempts to invoke sympathy.
  • Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: Sebastian. In spite of the fact that Ruvik succeeded in devouring the minds of everyone else plugged into the machine (with a grand total numbering potentially in the upper hundreds), Sebastian proves to be simply too much for Ruvik to handle. Ultimately when Ruvik, while piloting the Amalgam, finally succeeds in eating Sebastian, so much damage has been done already that Ruvik and the Amalgam explode, completely unable to handle him. Even with the power of hundreds of devoured minds behind him, Ruvik simply is no match for the willpower of a single police detective.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Averted pretty hard; many of the trailers can easily be used as a walkthrough for your first few encounters with the Haunted, but most of the scenes in the trailers (with the big exception being The Keeper, who's built up beforehand in the game anyways) are either presented with little context or occur within the first three or four chapters.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The very end of Chapter 12 has you take control of Kidman to drive the school bus she, Sebastian, and Joseph are in while plowing through a horde of Haunted. This doesn't last too long though. See Shout-Out above.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Sebastian gets a chainsaw to the leg in the first chapter and spends the rest of the fight with the Sadist limping away in obvious pain. Once he's safe in an elevator, however, he's completely fine and can run the rest of the way out of the hospital. Since he's already in the dreamworld at that point, there could be some Your Mind Makes It Real shenanigans afoot.
    • Same with Joseph who gets shot in the chest. While the next part focuses on getting him first aid he still seems a little too well for a wound that had Sebastian panicking mere moments earlier. Again, Your Mind Makes It Real.
  • Verb This!: Sebastian says "Take this!" in his final encounter with The Keeper before he drops a ceiling of spikes on his head.
  • Villainous Breakdown: If you happen to get close enough to the thing that Ruvik has become to pursue you, you can hear enraged screaming in both his adult and child voices such things like "I WILL SHOW YOU PAIN!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Joseph's body is conspicuously absent after we see the outside of the STEM system; we see Connelly and Jimenez but no Joseph. When Kidman's associates ask her what to do with Sebastian (presumed dead), she says to leave him along with 'the other two', likely meaning Connelly and Jimenez. So either Joseph wasn't there for them to find or they've taken him (or his body) away for reasons unexplained. Hmmm...
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: If you die within any of the dreamworld layers, you die in the real world. As are the fates of Oscar Connelly and Marcelo Jimenez.