Famed Japanese game maker Shinji Mikami delights us with another tense and action-packed survival horror thriller.
Sebastian Castellanos (the conflicted hero from the original Evil Within) is back. If you're at all interested in his and The Evil Within 2's story, I highly recommend you either play The Evil Within before playing this sequel or at least read about the story from the original game first. Many characters return and the overall premise will make a lot more sense if you're familiar with the original game's story.
Anyway, The Evil Within 2 starts with a flashback of Sebastian trying and failing to save his daughter Lily from a house fire. This tragedy ruins his marriage and sends him into a wicked spiral until he is confronted one day by the powerful shadow agency Mobius who tell him that Lily isn't dead but rather has been kidnapped and used to power Mobius' STEM system. Something has gone wrong inside their STEM world and they now need Sebastian to go back in to investigate the problems and save his daughter.
The campaign starts slowly; introducing and reintroducing characters and explaining about the new STEM world that has been created (which is called Union). It's not until Chapter 3 when Sebastian finally acquires a knife and gun and the action starts to pick up. Combat is tense and enjoyable and the survival aspects mean that you'll need to be precise with your decisions and your ammo. Zombie-like monsters roam the streets of Union and aren't afraid to aggressively attack Sebastian if they spot him. Stealth is a huge and vital part of the gameplay and you'll want to take advantage of it whenever possible. Using stealth attacks to kill enemies means you'll save valuable ammo and not draw the attention of nearby monsters.
When stealth isn't a viable solution, you'll want to dispatch enemies using as few bullets as possible. Precise headshots kill most normal enemies in one or two shots but they're not always easy to pull off. You can also shoot enemies in their legs and if they fall to the ground, you can quickly run to them and stomp their lights out. Melee attacks are another option but they're not terribly powerful and you'll probably wind up taking damage while you're repeatedly stabbing a foe. Including a dodge mechanic may have made the combat a bit too easy but it also could have been very helpful when dealing with melee battles or large, fast-moving enemies and bosses.
The Evil Within 2 consists of an enjoyable mix of open-world and linear chapters. In other words, the campaign sometimes provides you with the freedom to explore and other times, it expects you to move forward the way it wants you to. Open-world locations have tons of explorable areas and several side-missions and are great for leveling up both your character and your weapons. You'll definitely want to take advantage of these open-world locations and the goodies contained within them. Linear sections are generally more plot-focused and usually consist of lots of hallways and corridors within spooky buildings.
To the delight of horror fans, The Evil Within 2 maintains a tense atmosphere throughout and will catch you off-guard with a few jump scares. It also has some psychotic villains and a few truly bizarre and massive creatures that are fun to look at and even more fun to kill. It's not the scariest game you'll ever play but it keeps the tension high throughout. Anyway, my biggest qualm with the original Evil Within is that it was too hard for its own good. Thankfully, The Evil Within 2 is way more accessible for those looking for a challenging survival experience but not a soul-crushing one. Checkpoints and safe houses are plentiful and there isn't much of a penalty for dying. You can leave yourself in bad situations if you waste too much ammo but nothing as dire as the first game. Upon starting, the main menu even suggests that if you liked The Evil Within's default normal difficulty, you should play The Evil Within 2 on hard.
The Evil Within 2 is a tense and challenging game that still manages to remain accessible. The addition of open-world exploration is a huge success and it helps to create an overall excellent action-filled survival horror experience.
- + Great combat provides a variety of ways to take care of enemies
- + Tense atmosphere with a few jump scares
- + Open-world sections are rewarding
- - Melee combat is a little clunky and could have used a dodge mechanic
- - Starts rather slowly