The original The Evil Within was in many ways a disappointment for me, but that is all in the past now. The Evil Within 2 has, from the mind of Shinji Mikami, developed by Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda, has exceeded all my expectations and put my concerns in the grave.
The game picks up three years after the events of the first title and right from the start, it blew me away with its quality, story and the intensely satisfying survival-horror experience. It is, in my opinion, the perfect redemption story in more ways than one.
Welcome to Union
Players once again put on the hardened boots of detective Sebastian Castellanos as he is now a disgrace who drowns himself in
To his surprise and initial relief, he is informed that his daughter Lily is still alive and is being used as the Core in a new STEM project. For those unfamiliar with the lore, Mobius is a corporation that has created something like alternate dimensions called STEM systems. Something has, of course, gone horribly wrong, as Lily is missing in the new STEM, which is portrayed as the town of Union.
Sebastian, without hesitation, agrees to enter the STEM and save his daughter, as well as look for Mobius agents still alive. What transpires after Sebastian enters the STEM is mind-boggling, frightening and downright disturbing.
As the story progresses, I discovered so much lore throughout the game that helped the story along, from Mobius’ plans to disturbing revelations about the game’s villain. The Evil Within 2’s main antagonist is basically a psychopathic photographer that fancies himself quite the artist.
As I delved deeper into his mind, a method to his madness emerged, which made him even more frightening. However, there were more revelations than just the fight for survival against the psychopathic artist Stephano.
Shocking revelations and a character reveal that I really don’t want to spoil for our readers, so you will just have to take a trip to Union yourself to see what it’s all about. Throughout my time with the game, I had to put down my PS4 controller multiple times, take a breather and just try to digest the horrors the game has thrown at me.
Unlike the original, The Evil Within 2 gave me the freedom to explore, which in many ways increased the level of horror, doubt in my mind and a need to survive. Without going into spoiler territory, the game did keep me on the edge of my seat right up until the last thrilling moments, but before the ending, I had a horrifying, intense and downright satisfying time throughout.
Freedom of Horror
As briefly mentioned earlier, The Evil Within 2 gives the player the freedom to explore the town of Union. There are multiple side quests, and buildings you can just enter and explore. Exploration in the game is very rewarding, as you can gain so much insight into the story, discover hidden items and even uncover some awesome Easter-eggs.
Resource management and exploration is the key to survival on anything but casual difficulty. You can find a variety of items, from gunpowder to weapon parts and herbs that you can use to craft useful items at workbenches. However, the game also gives you a choice to do field crafting. Although you can’t upgrade your weapons via field crafting, you can at least make some more bullets or syringes to get yourself out of a tight spot.
Managing these resources effectively was the key to survival for me and I quickly learned that even though it seemed as if I had a lot of recourses at certain points, they quickly depleted. In Survival (normal) and Nightmare difficulties, exploration and gathering of resources become such a pivotal aspect of gameplay, which, in the case with The Evil Within 2, is a good thing.
The reason being is that you don’t only explore to gather resources but stumble upon lore and story pieces as you scavenge, which makes the experience extremely rewarding, even if you are just out looking for some herbs. You also get to choose how you play, for example, do you go the stealth route or even the daring hand-to-hand combat route? It’s all up to you and even though upgrading helps, it is not essential to survival.
You upgrade Sebastian by collecting Green Gel from enemies you have slain, and some points in the skill tree come from the hard-to-find Red Gel. Then, there are also collectables, for example, slides. When you watch these slides in your safe haven, a friendly cat is there to give you some much-needed supplies. Further, breaking some statues could give you keys, which you unlock at a safe house for some much-needed rewards.
There is so much freedom in the gameplay, from running away to the way you approach different situations. You also have some cool things you can do with the environment, for example, opening a fire hydrant and then using a shock bolt to stun enemies by electrifying the water running the street. The crossbow weapon truly opens up a lot of options to players to take out enemies (or avoid them) in different ways.
Practicing your weapon skills, especially since they are hard to master and ammo is limited, can be difficult. A bit later in the game, you do unlock a shooting range, which I quickly got addicted to. Not only do you get rewards for performing well, but I found that this feature implemented cleverly into the game’s world, is one of the first-time target practice has actually noticeably improved my gameplay.
The devil is in the details
The Evil Within 2 isn’t perfect. Unfortunately, I did experience some slight performance issues on the PS4 Pro and there were times that graphical errors did break the immersion the game does so well to create with its creepy environments and incredible story. For example, when I entered a lift early in the game, two block shadows appeared over my head, definitely some kind of glitch. These small glitches didn’t really bother me, but it is hard not to think it might break the immersion for some, at least a little bit.
The combat does feel a lot better than the previous game, but at times it still feels sluggish and some bugs make it annoying at times. For example, a monster would stand half-way in a door, causing me to miss a few shots. Then, there is also the issue of a few minor slowdowns in FPS as well as shadows glitching out from time to time.
Sebastian’s reactions can be a little bit off, as he repeats “what the hell” so many times that I started echoing it while playing the game. Bluntly speaking, if you see a terribly deformed creature with saws for arms come at you and say “what the hell”, then that same reaction to a red drape feels a tad bit stupid.
Lastly, Sebastian feels sluggish at times and his melee attacks as well as his parkour abilities leave much to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, the game is brilliant and horrifying, that could have been a masterpiece if it wasn’t for a few errors in design, a couple of bugs as well as graphical glitches.
The Evil Within 2 is, in all aspects, a giant leap forward when compared to the original. The game blends survival-horror perfectly with open-world mechanics and the side-quests are some of the most intriguing I have ever experienced. The game does have some flaws that are hard to overlook, especially if they sometimes break the immersion the game does so well to create in the first place.
In all fairness, The Evil Within 2 is the second-best survival-horror title to release this year, the first being a trip to the Baker family estate. For me, that is a big step forward for the franchise. From start to finish, I immensely enjoyed the roughly 20-hour experience and I plan to play it again this weekend on New Game Plus mode because it is a challenging and rewarding game that definitely has some replay value.
The best parts about The Evil Within 2 wasn’t the jump scares or the deformed creatures, but rather the side quests and the extremely intriguing story that kept me on the edge of my seat until the last, thrilling moments. For survival-horror fans, it is an absolute must buy.
For those still on the fence about the game, check out over 13 minutes of brutal, gory gameplay below.
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Played On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 13 October 2017 | RRP: R899
This review was based off a promotional code provided to us by Ster-Kinekor Entertainment.