AAA horror games are a rarity these days. Survival horror is one of my favourite genres, it pains me to see it struggle so. Resident Evil 7 released this year and it was very good but that was pretty much it. There were plenty of other horror games but you’d have to look to the independent market to find them. However, even there the genre seems to be lacking direction. In truth, the genre needs an injection of innovation. If you can’t think up new ideas then why not look to the past? I was a huge fan of The Evil Within, giving it a solid 8/10.
Still, people criticized its gameplay for being far too similar to Resident Evil 4. I never understood how being compared to one of the best action/horror titles of all time could be a negative. Anyway, there was plenty of room for continuation of the story. Thankfully, we finally received that continuation.
Three years after the events at Beacon Mental Hospital, Sebastian Castellanos has left the Krimson City Police Department. He continues to be haunted by his experiences at Beacon, the disappearance of his wife Myra, and the death of his daughter Lily in a house fire. Sebastian is then approached by former partner and Mobius agent Juli Kidman, who reveals to him that Lily is still alive since Mobius faked her death. Therefore, Sebastian is forced to enter STEM and the mysterious town of Union to save his daughter.
Upon entering Union, Sebastian quickly finds that the town has been turned into a nightmare realm where all of the inhabitants have either been killed or mutated into bloodthirsty monsters. In addition, Sebastian witnesses a mysterious photographer with supernatural powers hunting down and murdering Mobius operatives.
In The Evil Within 2, maps are larger and there are multiple ways for players to advance in a level. The player is also given an item known as “The Communicator”, which helps to highlight the objectives, resources, and enemies featured in the game’s world. It will also reveal Resonance points, which provide hints regarding what had happened in the world of Union. Players can explore the map area freely to complete side objectives and scout for resources. Players can engage in direct confrontation with enemies using weapons like guns, or use stealth to prevent themselves from being noticed or sneak behind enemies to kill them silently.
The game also features a crafting system, in which players can gather resources to craft new items such as ammo. The Green Gel, introduced in the first game, can be used to customize Sebastian’s abilities, which are divided into five different trees: health, stealth, combat, recovery and athleticism.
The Evil Within 2 is a strong continuation from the first game. My absolute favourite part is the option to free-roam around Union. The early stages of the game gave me serious Silent Hill vibes. If the first game was comparable to Resident Evil 4 then that goes for the sequel as well. To me, it felt like a combination of that game mixed with Silent Hill; what’s not to love?
While it is an absolute blast to explore an abandoned town in a horror setting, it did create some problems. The biggest issue being that these parts have a real lack of tension or atmosphere about them. If you take the time, there are sections in which you can completely wipe out all enemies in the town.
Talking of enemies, these are a slight problem as well. Don’t get me wrong, they are wonderfully grotesque to look at. If they spot you, it’s brown trousers time. However, they are far too easy to dispatch with stealth attack insta-kills. Also, on many an occasion I was in full view of an enemy only for them to fail to spot me. There is a decent variety to the enemies; some of the bigger ones are extremely intimidating.
On the other hand, deaths never feel cheap. If you die it’s usually down to something you did wrong, it’s much more skilled based. In the first game you are so ridiculously bombarded that constant death and retries are inevitable.
While I’m here talking about some the negative aspects of the game, here’s some more. I found it to be much more forgiving with saves, ammo and healing items compared to the first. Dying was constant in the first whereas here I only died a handful of times throughout my 16 hour playthrough. It never really felt like I was struggling with supplies which is damaging to the overall “Survival horror” experience.
Controlling Sebastian can be equally as clunky as the first game. I feel clunky controls are somewhat a staple of the genre now; it would be weird not to have it.
Visually the game looks really great. Character models have improved; faces and eyes are realistically expressive. At times, the environments warp and twist which is really impressive to witness. Still, it can be really rough around the edges in places.
The story is one of The Evil Within’s strongest aspects. The storyline in the first game was a bit of a mess to be honest. Playing the DLC is essential to truly understand what is going on. Thankfully, The Evil Within 2 tells a much more simplistic, coherent and investable tale. I wasn’t sure I would be but by the end, I was fully compelled to steer Sebastian towards the saving of his daughter Lily. Also, I’m really glad that the game ends in a way that feels pretty conclusive for Sebastian and possibly even the series.
It does have a small hint of something at the end and there are possible stories but it’s a satisfying end if it is the end. The writing for the game is naturally quite bizarre at times. The dialogue can be quite hammy but isn’t that something we all love about these types of games?
Overall, The Evil Within 2 is a damn fine horror experience. It feels like something that if it would have been released years ago, everyone would be raving, it’s an unfortunate rarity. It might lack the random, relentless nature of the first but it still has its moments. Things really ramp up in the latter stages. It is a much more accessible game than its predecessor. However, I’m not sure I’ll ever have what it takes to tackle classic mode. If this is the end, then it has been a hell of a ride.
The Evil Within 2