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The Evil Within 2 Review


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On 12/21/2017 at 12:00 PM by Julian Titus

Smile for the camera!
RECOMMENDATION:

Fans of survival horror and well-crafted storylines.

I have been a fan of the survival horror genre since Capcom coined the term to describe their release of Resident Evil way back for the original PlayStation. It’s been a long time since the heyday of the horror game, and getting your scares on consoles has become a rarity. So I was pleasantly surprised that, not only did I enjoy The Evil Within 2 after finding the first game lacking, but it has become one of my favorite entries in the survival horror genre.

The Evil Within 2 reunites players with Sebastian Castellanos, the now-disgraced detective from the first game. Sebastian has been on the trail of MOBIUS and mourning the death of his daughter, which has put him in a bad place emotionally. Things completely change when he is contacted by his former partner Juli, who informs him that, not only is his daughter alive, but she is being held at a MOBIUS facility. To save his daughter, Sebastian must return to the virtual world of STEM and retrieve her.

While this is a true sequel to a game that I barely played, I was pleased to see that The Evil Within 2 does a fantastic job of explaining the finer points of the first game’s events. Sebastian is haunted by what he experienced at the Beacon Mental Hospital, and a big part of this journey focuses on how he processes what happened to him. The virtual town of Union is supposed to be a place for the mentally ill to cope with their pain in an idyllic environment, but with the simulation breaking down, Sebastian is forced to confront his many demons head on.

This is accomplished through an excellently paced, pseudo-open world horror game. Once Sebastian enters Union, it’s up to him how to proceed. Sticking to the main objectives is obviously an option, but doing so puts you at a severe disadvantage, both in terms of narrative and survivability. You’ll find ammo, weapons, and valuable crafting items in every nook and cranny of Union, but beyond that, some of the best scares involve side content. You may go into a house to canvas the area for supplies, only to find yourself being hunted by a terrifying ghost woman who makes the girl from The Ring look like child’s play. Much of my satisfaction with The Evil Within 2 came from finding as many of these events as I could.

Less satisfying is the combat. The Evil Within 2 borrows heavily from Resident Evil 4, which should come as no surprise since Shinji Mikami, that game’s director, produced this title. Third person aiming is deliberate and somewhat slow, putting a premium on making every shot count. However, the shooting in this game never felt right to me. I spent a large part of my time fiddling with the aim sensitivity, and I was never able to find a setting that made shooting feel fluid. This led to multiple instances of enemies closing the distance, with my bullets whizzing right by them.

My issues with the combat could have been a deal breaker if it wasn’t for the satisfying stealth mechanics at play. Sneaking around Union is a tense challenge from beginning to end. The mutated denizens of the STEM simulation move erratically, and even just sneaking up to kill a single creature had me gripping my controller reflexively. I derived a great deal of pleasure from making my way through an area methodically, and I upgraded Sebastian’s abilities to help with this play style.

While I wouldn’t presume to tell someone how to play a game like this, I will say that stealth was the way to go for me. At no time during my nearly 20 hours with The Evil Within 2 did I ever feel powerful, or in control. Sure, there were times where I’d be swimming in ammo for all my guns, and had plenty of crafting materials to make more, but then something would happen that would severely deplete my reserves, once again putting me on the defensive. This kind of balance is immensely difficult to find, and I appreciated the pacing of this game, with quieter moments giving way to pitched battles, big scares, and tense moments.

Those moments are accentuated by some wonderfully disturbing monster designs. While the base enemies are basically zombies with pulsating bits, the bigger creatures are hellish amalgamations of nightmare fuel. Much like some of the older Silent Hill games, I would sometimes find myself staring at a particularly twisted baddie, wondering what deranged mind could have conceived of such a horror. This is also backed up by the narrative of the game, which features one of the most sadistically deadly villains I can think of in recent history.

Not only is The Evil Within 2 one of my favorite games of 2017, it sits in the hallowed company of Dead Space 2 and Silent Hill 3 as one of my all-time favorite horror games. From deep moments of Sebastian’s inner struggle to nightmarish battles with ungodly creatures, this is an adventure that I highly recommend. Do not let this overlooked gem of 2017 pass you by. 

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Casey Curran Staff Writer

12/21/2017 at 12:54 PM

If Julian's glowing review wasn't enough, he and I usually never agree on games, but I thought The Evil Within 2 was one of the best titles of the year and is one of my favorite horror games as well. And like Julian, I was not a fan of The Evil Within 1, I hated that game.

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