Prepare to be scared
The Evil Within 2 is everything I could ask for in a sequel: bigger, better, scarier. Shinji Mikami and his team at Tango Gameworks have really delivered on all fronts with this new chapter. It elevates the unnerving horror tone established in the original while also opting for a more open world action-style gameplay. That’s a big departure from the claustrophobic corridors of Beacon Hospital, but the shift benefits the franchise in many ways. Read on to find out how!
Enter a new STEM
From a storytelling perspective, The Evil Within 2 is light years better than the original. Whereas the previous game left you wondering what was happening the whole time, the sequel tells a coherent, fascinating story.
Fast-forward three years after the events of Beacon and Sebastian Castellanos is still trying to piece his life back together. Suddenly Juli Kidman, his former partner and current Mobius agent, appears and informs Sebastian is daughter Lily is still alive. She reveals that Lily is trapped inside a new STEM system simulating a small-town US locale called Union. And she knows a way for Sebastian to enter the STEM to rescue her.
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Welcome to Union
After reluctantly agreeing to enter this new STEM, Sebastian soon discovers Union is far from being a quaint, idyllic town. It’s been corrupted, somehow, having become a nightmarish town overrun with horrendously grotesque and dangerous zombie/mutant-like creatures. Unfortunately for Sebastian his simple rescue mission has, once again, manifested into a living hell.
While bad news for our hero, these unfolding events are naturally a welcome sight for us horror fans. It means another frightful trip into a truly haunting world that will chill you to the bone. So dim the lights, turn up the volume, and get ready 20+ hours of harrowing adventures.
The audio is downright unsettling
To fully experience the sheer terror of The Evil Within 2, I strongly encourage you to play with headphones on. Tango has done a phenomenal job on the game’s audio and it heightens every moment ten-fold. From the maddening ticking of a giant pendulum clock, to the constant creaks and shrieks, sounds play a big role.
In fact, every enemy in the game makes a specific noise, and each one will rattle you to the core. Common zombies groan, sniff, and hiss like they’re ravenously seeking out human flesh. The more dangerous type gurgle incessantly in between piercing shrieks. Then there are ones who can be heard devouring the recently deceased, complete with slushy flesh-ripping effects.
Aside from the nail-biting zombie growls, the 360-degree ambient sounds are even more dreadful. Doors will slam open in the distance, hinting that particularly nasty horrors await you around some corner. Cries for help will reverberate off walls giving you no indication where these victims lie. Then there’s the constantly creaking floors and ominous rattling to ratchet the tension up some more. My point is The Evil Within 2 utterly nails the audio, so horror fans are in for an exceptionally frightful aural experience.
The Evil Within 2 looks great too
Graphically, the game is also a beast. Horribly macabre sights await you in every chapter, whether that’s artwork depicting death or blood smears soiling the floors. The majority of the game is, as you’d expect, very dark, however, there’s still a good range of scenery. From a creepy theatre, to an abandoned town, to a torture device-laden medieval church, the sights constantly change.
As well, the majority of enemies are new and for the most part they look great (in a disgusting sort of way.) There are particularly horrific bosses, too, like a multi-headed monstrosity that chases you with her over-sized saw blade arm. The game also introduces new threats at a regular pace, helping keep the action fresh over this lengthy 20-hour campaign.
A semi open world
As touched upon earlier, one of the biggest changes for The Evil Within 2 is its moderately open world. There are a couple of medium-sized town regions to wander through, each taking you an hour or two to fully explore. Furthermore, concrete military-esque tunnels connect several locations, enabling you to freely backtrack to prior areas. Your accessibility can change though, as Union is highly unstable and prone to sudden, violent earthquakes.
Despite the more open space, the tension is still laid on thick. All kinds of ghastly noises can be heard around you, and it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint where they’re coming from. As well, enemies have the ability to hear and/or see you, so you need to be quiet and unseen. Should you get detected not only will the creature chase you, but often times they’ll alert other nasties nearby. No matter if you’re walking through wide open spaces or down suffocating hallways, The Evil Within 2 finds devious ways to haunt you.
Craft like your life depends on it
Another significant change this time around is the much greater emphasis on crafting. Everyday items like nails, pipes, and herbs can be used to craft items like crossbow bolts or first aid syringes. Gunpowder is especially important as it’s used to make all-important bullets, which in this game is a rare commodity.
Because enemies are plentiful and resources low, it encourages you to explore the darkest crevices for anything useful. Under cars, inside drawers, or in a pile of bones, the game makes you desperate enough to search them all. Limited resources is an essential component for any good survival horror, and this game doles out just enough to survive without being punishing. At least on the easy and normal difficulty settings.
The Evil Within 2 improves upon its predecessor in virtually every way. The story is better written, the tension is higher, and the open world sequences make for a more well-rounded experience. It’s fully embraces the twisted, morbid side of life, but if that’s to your liking you’ll find lots to enjoy here. With this being Halloween and all, the timing couldn’t be more right.
+ Dreadfully gorgeous visuals
+ Stellar 360-degree audio
+ A bone-chilling tale
+ Enjoyed the open world spaces
+ Nice variety of zombies
+ Hard but not punishing
– Sebastian still moves rather slow
– A little too much backtracking
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.4/5 (88%)
Get The Evil Within 2 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC
Also available as an Xbox One – Digital Download