'The Evil Within 2' review - Evil's new residence

Thursday, 12 October 2017 05:30 PM Written by 

 

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Nobody expected “The Evil Within” to get a sequel. The 2014 game from Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda Softworks received middling reviews that leaned toward positive. The kind-of-sort-of spiritual successor to “Resident Evil 4” received enough praise to give it a cult following, but nobody was expecting a sequel announcement from E3 2017. But, that’s exactly what happened.

 

The sequel takes place shortly after the events of the first game, and Sebastian Castellanos is still mentally struggling. He’s been dismissed as a detective after suffering a breakdown caused by the loss of his daughter. After failing to find answers at the bottom of a bottle, he’s contacted by the Mobius Corporation, who tells him that there’s a possibility that his daughter is still alive. Willing to do anything, he gets connected to a device called STEM, which connects minds to a horrific dream world. This is where the game takes place, keeping the door wide open for all the horrors that can come from one’s dreams or, in this case, nightmares.

 

 

The story outstays its welcome, but not because the 20-ish-hour campaign is overly long. The main antagonist changes so often that it’s hard to get a grasp on why someone new has stepped in as the big threat, or what even motivates them to be the evil in this world. Focus toward these new evils changes many times, but the game never takes the time to properly develop the characters. It’s the game’s artistic direction and gameplay that keep each hour compelling.

 

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“The Evil Within 2” gives the series modern mechanics, while keeping what worked about the original game. The first game of the series hit the sweet spot between horror and action thanks to creepy imagery and the feeling of helplessness that comes with ammo scarcity. Otherwise, it was a linear story with character and weapon progression that felt satisfying.

 

The sequel opens the game up while keeping that sense of progression for Sebastian and his arsenal. There are open and explorable areas for the first time in the series. It would be too far to call “The Evil Within 2” and open-world game, but there are multiple sections of the game with large, but contained, outdoor areas with roaming enemies, collectables, waypoints and side missions.

 

Surprisingly, this is a mechanic that suits the series well. It gives “The Evil Within 2” almost a “Splinter Cell” or “Arkham” feel to stalk around these open areas clearing out enemies one by one. The ammo scarcity is real, so it would be foolish to bust out of the front door guns blazing. You’ll spend most of your time staying hidden and opting for the silent takedown. Fortunately, the ghouls of the game don’t regenerate. So, when an area is clear, Sebastian is free to explore and gather up all the surrounding goodies.

 

The stealth mechanic alone gives an excellent sense of progression. It’s possible to sneak around enemies and avoid them altogether, but every encounter is seen as an investment. Sneaking around and silently eliminating enemies with spending precious ammunition is a high risk, but yields high rewards. It helps that every downed enemy give Green Gel, which can be used to strengthen Sebastian’s abilities. The same goes for the side missions within these open areas. These missions will often put you in harm’s way, but the spoils waiting at the end of the mission make them worth your time.

 

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In games similar to “The Evil Within,” ammo scarcity is usually a gameplay mechanic early on, but it’s not much of a worry later in the game as your collection of weaponry grows. This isn’t the case in “The Evil Within 2.” I was completely without ammo late in the game, which meant I had to approach all future encounters with the utmost caution. The game always encourages stealth, which eliminates enemies without the use of ammo, but these stealth sequences aren’t always easy. It takes one misstep to trigger an enemy to alert all the other nearby enemies and turn an area into a firefight.

 

Fortunately, there’s the option to fieldcraft when your ammo bag runs dry. There are crafting tables scattered throughout the world where you can craft ammo and health kits with resources found in the game. This can also be done anywhere with fieldcrafting, but fieldcrafting spends more resources than crafting would at a crafting table. It’s an interesting option that should really only be used in case of a field emergency, but it’s a good option to have.

 

“The Evil Within 2’s” strong gameplay and uneven story are debatable, but its art style makes the strongest case to experience this game. Whether it’s desolate city streets or dimly lit creepy corridors, the game has a style of its own that is equal parts disturbing and beautiful. Best of all, no two chapters are similar. Each new area has a new look that acts as a great hook for exploration. Whether it’s a cinematic or actual gameplay, “The Evil Within 2” is gorgeous.

 

Horror buffs will want to know if the game is scary. The short answer is yes. Everyone’s threshold for fear is different, but there is a good mix of scary scenarios where you’ll have to use combat to get your way out of it, and other times when you’ll just have to run. Ambiance and imagery is half the battle to bring the scares, and “The Evil Within 2” has plenty.

 

Like many games of its ilk, “The Evil Within 2” has the best reward for finishing the game: New Game Plus. Even if you want more of the game after it’s lengthy story, you can replay it with all of your upgrades and gear, or try on of the harder difficulty. There’s no shortage of value here.

 

Since nobody really expected “The Evil Within” to get a sequel, expectations for “The Evil Within 2” were basically nonexistent. It was up to Tango Gameworks to show us why we should want this sequel, and they have accomplished this. It succeeds where the previous game failed, while adding more to the formula that could win over those who didn’t care for the first game. For those looking for something creepy this October, or for those who want to give the series a second look, “The Evil Within 2” is worth your time.

 

9 out of 10

 

 

Pros

Satistying stealth

New open environments

Gorgeous art design

Great progression

 

Cons:

Convoluted story

 

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