The Evil Within 2 Review – Bring a Fresh Change of Underwear

The Evil Within 2
Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Software

The survival horror genre as a whole has “evolved” if you will, in leaps and bounds in recent years. Since its inception in the 1990s, we’ve seen survival horror go from games that provide players with some sort of limited weaponry, such as pistols or rifles with scarce ammunition, to ones which eschew weapons altogether. The latter type force gamers to either run or hide from enemies, or sometimes both.

Taking the ability to fight back against whatever horrors a gamer is presented with, and instead have to turn tail and take off into the opposite direction, is a heck of a lots scarier than blasting enemies away with an assortment of firearms. You feel so naked and vulnerable (well – maybe not naked) when you’re faced off against some sort of evil monstrosity, and you’re only armed with your wits and (hopefully) a good pair of running shoes.

But horror game legend Shinji Mikami isn’t quite finished with the old-school style of horror game. Indeed, his survival horror series The Evil Within harkens back to the days of the first couple of Resident Evil titles. In fact, playing these newer games feels like a combination of Resident Evil 4 and the earlier Silent Hill games. This is especially evident in Tango Gamerworks’ new survival horror extravaganza, The Evil Within 2.

The Evil Within 2 opens boldly enough. You once again step into the shoes of Detective Sebastian Castellanos. A few years have passed since the events of the first Evil Within game, and part 2 starts off with a creepy dream sequence which plays out in Castellanos’s mind. A fire engulfs his family’s home, causing his daughter to pass away, and his wife to vanish without a trace. But afterwards, his former partner offers Castellanos an opportunity to save his daughter from the grips of death. The only catch is that he must agree to ally with a certain sinister organization that most likely doesn’t have his best interests in mind.

Castellanos’s daughter, Lily, has special psionic abilities that the organization needs in order to control their mind-melding device called STEM. Castellanos is tasked with not only finding his daughter within the strange world within STEM, but also a Special Forces team that likewise disappeared. The main environs of STEM take place in a town called Union. Ironically, the townsfolk are anything but united, in fact they have been transformed into hideous entities which mean to do Castellanos all sorts of harm.

One major thing that separates the original game from this sequel, is that The Evil Within 2 provides a heck of a lot more opportunities to utilize stealth this time around, instead of the heavier reliance on firepower the first time around. I found this not only refreshing, but also much scarier since you will often witness horrific entities within certain areas, and must slink around in the shadows in order to avoid be spotted by them.

Also, even though seems to have taken a clue from Outlast 2 and has gone semi-open world, instead of level by level, its narrative pacing is much tighter. One stand out antagonist that fades in and out of the main storyline is a sadistic photographer whose androgynist nature only serves to make him seem that much creepier and twisted. There are some seriously engrossing chases that are set up as Castellanos seeks to hunt down this dangerous psychopath before he kills more people, but he soon realizes that he may not be the one doing all of the hunting afterall…

Even though The Evil Within 2 relies much more on sneaking around than its predecessor, this can be a big drawback sometimes. There were times when I’d be doing my whole stealth thing and skirting around the perimeter of an area, only to accidentally get discovered by some enemies. In the first game I’d usually have the items that I needed in order to survive these sorts of encounters. But here I would frequently be forced to watch Castellanos die over and over and over again because I didn’t have anything to defend myself with. In this regard, The Evil Within 2 can become quite an exercise in futility as you are either outnumbered and ganged up on by multiple foes, or simply run up against a single, very powerful one.

This shift in gameplay mechanics is not the only thing that has been given an overhaul. The Evil Within 2 sports some pretty stunning graphics this time around. The character models are very realistic looking, and all of the environments look accordingly dreary and forlorn. Also, a special mention must be made about the absolutely spectacular creature designs. They are truly horrific.

I haven’t felt this afraid to engage a game’s entities in quite some time. Combined with the game’s clever pacing and gradual buildup of tension, and you’ll frequently worrying about what’s around the next dark corner or bend in the road. In fact, there were times when I’d have an “Okay, I can’t do this” moment and step away from the computer. It’s that unsettling.

The Evil Within 2 is a worthy sequel to the rather lackluster first game in the series, and virtually improves upon every aspect of it—outstanding graphics, excellent pacing, brutal difficulty, and an enhanced stealth system. Besides Outlast 2, I can see it being a contender for survival horror game of the year.

SCORE: 84%

The Evil Within 2 features great graphics that make its survival horror come alive. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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