Game Review: The horror is back on Evil Within 2 [PS4, Xbox One, PC]
The first The Evil Within has been a very misunderstood game, mainly due to its technical problems in its release, but also due to the faults in the gameplay quality, culminating in the last hours that spoil the whole atmosphere that has been building up until then. The Evil Within 2 is a sequel quite different in its structure, with very obvious improvements, which means that the developers payed attention to the complains regarding the first game, but also with some issues that are slightly spoiling its overall image.
In Evil Within 2, you again take on the role of Sebastian Castellanos, who is clearly overwhelmed and influenced by the events of the first game, but also by his daughter's death in a fire. His partner in the first game, the mysterious Juli Kidman, finds him in a barren state at a bar and informs him that his daughter lives and can save her if he goes back to the Stem system, a multi-level device that connects the brains of different people with the core to enter a fantasy world designed by the core memories. The core in this case is Lilly, the daughter of Sebastian Castellanos, who is at great risk in the Union's virtual site created through the Stem system.
The game’s script is based more on science fiction and less horror, with the exception of course that the Union has been taken over by otherworldly creatures like zombies, but also some truly nightmarish creatures ready to haunt you. Unlike the first game, which recounts the plot in a more subtle way, Evil Within 2 makes things clearer and your mission is more clear. The plot keeps you alert, although with some clichés that we see in horror movies. The balances in the nightmarish world constantly changes in the game and also in this sequel the player finally bonds with Sebastian who at first looked more like a puppet rather than essential protagonist. To follow the events of Evil Within 2 you don’t necessarily need to have played the first, although it definitely helps if you know the events of the original.
The first big change that is evident in Evil Within 2 is the open-world design that gives freshness as it has been properly implemented without forcing you to explore every inch if you want to just go through the story. Exploring the world gives you more ammunition, materials to build bullets, and more green goop that you gather from the enemy corpses and use it to upgrade the characteristics of the hero. The scenery of the town of Union is not very atmospheric, but even though it is lacking in the atmosphere, there is tension and fear, in practically every corner, room or basement you are visiting, you do not know where the enemies will drop you every time, which is very exciting.
The open-world structure of Evil Within 2 is interrupted by purely linear missions, in the style of the first game. Initially the linear missions are few, but then the game becomes more linear so the story can advance and to balance the gameplay. There are also a few minor missions that fit organically with the rest of the game and it is worthwhile dealing with them. It's also interesting to track signals through your wireless that lead you to events that happened in the past but come alive in front of your eyes. Linear missions bring you to more otherworldly environments and manage to deliver the horror atmosphere to the fullest. Compared with the first game, the environments have less variety and are a bit less claustrophobic, but they are by no means disappointing. Luckily, battles with bosses, although small in number, are enjoyable, as not only is it enough to find their vulnerabilities, but you have to move smartly in space, taking advantage of the environment.
The greatest asset of Evil Within 2 is the solid survival character, at least by the survival level of difficulty and above. No matter how much ammunition you collect, no matter how many bullets you make, you will always be confused in terms of what bullets you should use on each occasion. Throughout the game, you will never feel fully equipped to cope with anything that's in front of you and you have to always be ready and prepared because when the enemies attack together are very difficult to deal with. Thankfully, your progress is saved after every serious battle, while the game itself provides you with the necessary resources in every battle with a boss so that you can beat it even at the last moment, even if you have no extra ammunition.
The biggest issue of the game is the problematic intelligence of the enemies, which tarnishes the stealth mechanisms. Enemies, especially in the open-world map, have a specific field of action when they find you, so you can literally turn right in the next corner and they will stop going after you. In addition, the enemies do not react to a light source, so they do not detect you even if you have the torch open.
Evil Within 2 is an old-fashioned game with the aim of not having the precision of modern action games, which in this case is not bad because we are not dealing with a pure shooter but a survival game. Besides, a lost bullet when you attack a devious creature, always brings insecurity and fear. Each weapon works differently in your hands, so there is a relative realism in this field as well. Finally, there is also a good variety of weapons, with shotguns, pistols, crossbows, flame throwers, etc. and a magnum which is only unlocked when you finish the game and play again in new game plus.
Pricing & Availability
Evil Within 2 is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on Steam for $60.
Graphics & Sounds
Appearance-wise, Evil Within 2 is clearly better than its predecessor, with more realistic animation, well-designed enemies and beautiful lighting effects, especially in claustrophobic environments, where the light sources in the dark create the desired atmosphere of horror. Things are not so flourishing in the most open areas where poor textures are found on the ground, on rocks, etc., while you often see the same environments even if you are in different locations, such as houses, industrial environments in underground facilities etc.
The game also excels in the sound effects, which are also your biggest ally to listen to the enemies and understand where they are. Their creepy screams, the sounds that leave their heavy footsteps, the sound when they rip a corpse apart, etc., haunt you and put you in the right atmosphere. Music is also good, with loud songs in moments of tension, more melodic in places that you are safe, but also a nice musical theme when the end titles fall.
Evil Within 2 is an enhanced sequel that is not afraid to change its predecessor's recipe and offer a livelier survival experience for about 20 hours (if you want to complete the side-quests as well). Despite the weaknesses in the stealth mechanisms, it is a complete survival horror that's worth playing if you're a fan of the genre. Let us know your thoughts and impressions in the comments below.
Evil Within screenshots (above) and trailer (below)