I am so glad The Evil Within was able to receive a sequel. The first game was chock full of great ideas and an interesting premise. I really wanted to see where it went. That said, the first game wasn’t without its own set of problems. Performance and pacing issues plagued the classic survival-horror theme. With the sequel Tango Gameworks looks like they have found the sweet spot. Fixing almost every complaint I had about the original, The Evil Within 2 is a fantastic follow-up that once again sucks me into its world.
Fair warning upfront, there will be spoilers for the first game in this paragraph. The Evil Within 2 once again stars Sebastian Castellanos. This time he is tasked with diving into STEM to find his daughter, who was thought to be dead. This time around though, Sebastian knows what to expect from this mind machine. The game takes place in the town of Union, and it feels like the quintessential creepy town from a horror game. Lots of references and twisted imagery are everywhere.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
The story feels more refined this time around, but I can’t help but shake the feeling that it lacks compelling characters. I like Sebastian, but he just isn’t memorable. The plot also feels pulled out of most horror tropes. It is far better paced than the first game, but only mildly more interesting.
Mechanically this is still The Evil Within. Game play takes place in an over-the-shoulder perspective. Sebastian will gain a plethora of firepower along the way. The crossbow remains the most interesting. Firing different types of projectiles leads to interesting encounters. The shotgun warrants mentioning though. Not since Doom has a shotgun felt so satisfying. The sound, the impact, it feels outstanding. Combat is also more viable in this game. Depending on difficulty Sebastian will find more or less ammo, and enemies will be harder to bring down. Stealth is still a main mechanic on higher difficulties, but tap it down to casual and players can murder their way to victory.
I like being able to play how I want, and Tango seems to have taken that into account. Evil Within 2 is better paced than the original game. The first half feels wholly different from the second half. Anything can change on a dime. It is these types of moments that really push the game forward.
The upgrade system returns. Collecting green gel allows Sebastian to unlock new abilities to aid him on his way. Weapons also have their own upgrade tree. Crafting also returns, but can now be done on-the-fly from the equip menu. It costs more resources to do it outside of a workbench, but sometimes I just needed that ammo then and now.
Everything about the second game just feels better. I had a lot more fun diving into this world – the fact that I could play how I wanted and even change difficulty on-the-fly if things got too intense. Tango Gameworks really crafted an experience that players of all levels can enjoy. The Nightmare difficulty still exists for those wanting punishment.
One of the hang-ups from the first game returns though. Everything feels like it takes too long to complete- watching the animation of sitting down in the upgrade chair to travelling through the Marrows. Sebastian walks up to a computer to load the area, then has to wait, and finally interact with it again to move forward. It all feels poorly conceived. It takes away from the moment-to-moment action and suspense the game is so good at delivering.
It is also worth mentioning that the first game suffered from some pretty harsh technical problems the first time around, especially on consoles. Playing the second on Xbox One I encountered much less resistance in this area. I still wish I had a field of view slider though. The camera is still way to close to Sebastian. Also worth mentioning is the removal of the widescreen effect. Glad to see they realized that was a bad idea from the outset.
Evil Within 2 is how a sequel should be constructed. Everything about it feels like an improvement upon its predecessor. I had more fun digging into this 15-20 hour adventure, and would even consider replaying if not for so many other titles vying for my precious time. The genre is still poorly represented in the gaming community, so when a solid survival horror game emerges, it is best not to miss the opportunity to check it out.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.