Evil Within 2 Review
I’ve never been one to excitedly wait for a horror/thriller title on console, but Evil Within 2 might make me rethink that position. Despite my reservations about horror games in general – very predictable, and often doesn’t have the same shock value as a movies – Evil Within 2 gave me enough spine crawling, freight endusing moments, mixed in with some great open world mechanics, to deliver on what is one of the better horror/thriller titles to date on console. Despite my distaste for the genre, I simply couldn’t put Evil Within 2 down until I had beaten it!
Sebastian Castellanos isn’t the same man he was in the original title, The Evil Within, and bares many mental issues because of his recent life experiences. Playing as Sebastian this time around, therefore, is a much different experience, in terms of the story arc and character progression. We know what haunts him: the inability to save his daughter Lily from a ferocious house fire, which he blames on himself. His life on the police force is officially over, and the bars and taverns are where he spends his time. Sebastian is a broken man.
This sets up an interesting story going forward. Off the force, family gone, and a man who blames himself for the loss of his daughter. But when Sebastian is given some intel that suggests his daughter Lily really isn’t dead, he drops the liquor for a gun, and reverts back to his police days, minus the badge. Sebastian enters the ghost world of STEM in an attempt to save or find his daughter. Will he succeed?
The story in Evil Within 2 is really great as it plays out, and although there are some times when things drag, there is enough happening in the world around you to propel you forward, until the story kicks back into high gear, and you are once again engulfed in this strange mystery. Of course, we won’t spoil that here, but safe to say, the story is by no means a let down, and will really drive you to unravel the mystery behind both the missing daughter, and Sebastian himself.
Walking around the fictional town of Union – inside the STEM World – is really enticing, as you wander down empty streets, into random homes, and stumble across things you’d only find in, well, a horror flick! Everything works well, and the depressed, dark world never feels the same, despite an aesthetic that does. Most buildings within Union can be explored completely, and while they don’t all play into the main story – which means no one will force you to look there – there is definitely a good reason to do so: scrap and loot! Much of what you find will be for crafting in the future, so stalking up on anything and everything will make your experience that much better when you run low on ammo, or need that extra weapon handy.
Everything is beautifully designed, and the audio cues that go along with the environments are top notch, creating that eerie feeling you hope to get from a horror/thriller experience. Keeping your wits about you will be of utmost importance, as the Lost – zombies, essentially – wander the streets of Union looking for things to feast on. 95% of the time, you are the thing they want.
The Evil Within 2 rewards those with a patient attitude, playing this more as a stealth title than a shoot-em-up experience. While either works, being methodical about your movements as you follow the radio signals left by Lily is definitely the most ideal way to play. Especially on easier difficulty levels, playing a run and gun style seems cheap, and pulls some of the horror/thrilling elements out of the experience entirely.
Crafting may seem useless early on as the levels are chocked full of ammo pouches and fully loaded weapons, but when you enter the games final chapters, you will quickly realize that ammo is scarce, and crafting supplies are so vitally important. Loading up on them early, and using them sparingly, could be the difference between life and death as you close in on Lily’s location, so be smart with what you have, and look around every door, shelf, and cupboard. You’ll need everything you can find.
A few Letdowns
In almost every way, The Evil Within 2 is the best horror title ever released on console, but that isn’t to say the game has no faults. Two in particular were a problem for me. First, near the end of the game, your console will be put through it’s paces trying to keep up with what the game is attempting to deliver on screen, resulting in some fairly frequent frame rate drops. The second is the character of Sebastian himself.
Sebastian isn’t the most fluid video game character, and sometimes controlling him feels incredible cumbersome and awkward. While less noticeable when engaging in exploration, it becomes very noticeable when grappling with zombies, or fighting in close quarters. Perhaps this was done to add to the experience – as again, this is mostly a problem in close quarters combat – but I did feel a bit cheap to me, like the game was working hard against me, when in reality, it shouldn’t have.
Even those who haven’t played The Evil Within should take a stab at the sequel. As one of the best horror games currently available on console, it would be a shame to pass on this one. The game does a great job of providing you enough context of what went down in the original title to keep players informed. Whether exploring Union and it’s various linear side areas, or crafting new weapons in a safe house, there is always something to do in the Evil Within 2.