Evil makes a return in Evil Within 2. Continuing the story of Sebastian Castellanos we see our beaten down hero rise from his bar stool after finding out that the company that once doomed him has his daughter who he had believed had perished in a house fire after the events of the first film. Will The Evil Within 2 slip by like its first entry or will we see greatness come in the form of this sequel?
Coming to us from one of todays head honchos in gaming Bethesda, the Evil Within sought to take the throne that Resident Evil had lost after a few less than stellar entries. The Evil Within series feels a lot like the old Resident Evil games we remember. The odd puzzle here and there with certain objectives that require the player to go from point A to point B and back again. The Evil Within while may resemble Resident Evil in some ways, it delivers gameplay and a story that horror games these days lack. First off, the story is engaging and at times, you’ll feel like there is no way any normal human being could survive what half of any of these survivors went through. You want to know how everything is happening and why and even when it is explained to you, you become even more invested in the story and what else is around the corner.
The Evil Within 2 takes the scares that made the original such a treat and implements them into an open world of sorts. I don’t want to spoil the story of course but you end up in a town called Union. In the first game we were shown that at the end the characters were all in a sort of simulation by a company called Mobius. The simulation world/machine known as STEM. You die in the simulation, you die in real life. A lot like the Matrix, sort of, with a lot less leather. Well just like the first entry someone has hacked into STEM and is causing all sorts of trouble. What seems like an entire army of Mobius soldiers who were sent in to can explore and control the situation had seemingly all been picked off by the hellish creatures that had been created inside STEM. Now after Sebastian finds out that his daughter and possibly his missing wife could be inside STEM, Sebastian goes in to take down whoever is causing all this chaos and save his family.
Union is the town inside STEM and is filled with various buildings, homes and warehouses that are chock full of ammo, weapon upgrade parts, ammo crafting parts and other pieces of information that open the story up more. You’ll also come across the occasional survivor here and there where you are able to ask a selection of questions related to the current situation you are all in. As you enter Union you find out that parts of the town have all broken off into different sections and it is up to you to stabilise the STEM and take down the intruder, save your family and fight off numerous different hellish creatures scattered throughout the simulation. Aside from Union and other linear areas if The Evil Within 2 you also explore “The Marrow” which is a sort of settings area that holds Union in place. You spend time here and there inside The Marrow repairing things to stabilise Union.
Much like the first entry, The Evil Within 2 has its own break time area of sorts. No longer in a hospital you find yourself in Sebastian’s police department. The mirror has returned and so has the chair, in a way. Upgrades to Sebastian’s stats come in the way of sitting down in a wheelchair in Sebastian’s office which then transforms into the old chair from the first game. You seem to be bad in the old mental hospital as the nurse returns to greet you while you are strapped in your chair. However, you cannot move and are given the choice of opening one of the morgues cupboards with a key you found out in the world, which would you give you access to a random item to help aid you. Aside from the locked doors to your right was a blackboard which was where you upgraded stats via a skill tree.
These upgrades are performed using a green goo like substance that you collect after slaying the monsters in the simulation. There is also red goo jars you may come across which allow you to expand and open up new sections on the upgrade tree under a certain stat. I found maxing my health and recovery to be a must.
Along with upgrading Sebastian’s stats you can also upgrade and improve your weapons as well, so they can perform better. This was done by finding and collection weapon parts scattered throughout the world. Much like Sebastian’s stats the weapons also were upgraded via a skill tree. So much like finding red goo you could also come across special weapon parts that opened up new sections to give your weapons more oomph in battle. Crafting also returns via pick ups you come across. These are valuable and come in handy if you ran out of ammo and needed more during battle. You could quickly open up your portable crafting box and punch out more shotgun ammo or perhaps a smoke bomb arrow. Depending on your difficulty level as well, ammo conservation is key. So finding anything to help could save your life.
New additions to The Evil Within gameplay of course saw the town of Union. As said before, is a sort of open world. It had its limits. We’re not talking GTA style open world here but more so a more opened linear experience. You eventually ran out of things to do and see in one area, so it would eventually be time to move on and continue to the next area. Impressive to me was that they managed to let the player explore certain sections of Union in a sort of small open world, and yet managed to still keep that scare factor. At one point I was walking down one of the streets and went to walk along this road and noticed this small demonized woman standing perfectly still way out into the distance under a dimly lit street light. It was chilling and as I got closer, hairs on my arm were standing straight up. Certain areas open like this to explore, and yet the fear factor was still able to get to me. Bravo Bethesda.
Besides your weapons you were also given a device to speak to returning character Kidman from the first Evil Within, as well as other survivors you came across. The device could also be used to track down other signals of possible survivors or locations of interest. Some of these locations also showed back stories of fallen Mobius soldiers who had perished in one way or another. You would have to tune your device to a certain frequency to recreate how the solider had fallen.
Of course, while sections were opened there were parts that were linear. You had to keep moving forward to progress. Whether these were hallucination moments or I had come up against a monster that was toying with me in a game of cat and mouse. The Evil Within 2 always shook up the formula. One other interesting moment was when I was tasked with entering a section of The Marrow that had a gas leak and I was required to enter it with a mask and no weapons. As soon as I equipped my gas mask the game suddenly turned 1st person and I had to sneak past multiple enemies to get to where I needed to go. I loved that! The Evil Within 2 manages to perfectly execute all of these interesting gameplay formulas better than most games have in the past. Even some of the side quests that came up didn’t feel meaningless and boring. They had texture and an actual point to them that made me happy to do them.
Graphics and Sound
The Evil Within 2 is a creepy world filled with many interesting enemy designs. I rarely felt like the same enemies were coming at me. Some of the more tougher enemies however looked alike but it never bothered me. This was due to the fact that each time I came across them they managed to scare me enough that I unloaded my gun into them. Their designs were creepy enough that I still had the same fearful emotion each time I saw them. When it comes to any downsides, I will say that when using a smoke arrow bomb, the games frames took a massive dive. To an almost stuttering level. Playing this on the Xbox One I hope we see a patch soon for any future players. No horror movie or game is complete without a chilling score to accompany it. The Evil Within 2 certainly had the right tones when the scene called for it. I had no issues with sound popping out or anything. Crisp experience here.
I do apologise for my lengthy review but the Evil Within 2 deserves the praise. The first entry didn’t hold my attention as much as The Evil Within 2 has. A stellar entry that has managed to vastly improve itself over its predecessor. What an amazing survival horror experience this was. A bloody good ride. I just hope if we do see a third instalment, that the series goes a step further in terms of perfection. A worthy experience for any horror fan.