The Evil Within 2 starts slowly. Very slowly. In fact the opening nearly kills the game. But if you suck it up and plod through the opening chapters, a fantastic survival horror game awaits you that is genuinely frightening and rewarding. Time to tool up and head into the darkness..
As the game opens, you are once again in control of Sebastian Castellanos who is having nightmares about his young daughter (Lily) who burnt to death in a house fire. He awakens in a bar, staring down the end of an empty bottle. Things aren’t going well for him, especially after the events of the first game affected him so badly. As he collects himself, Juli Kidman appears and drops the bombshell that his daughter is not dead at all. Instead she is trapped inside STEM, the VR styled alternate reality system from the first game. It quickly transpires that the evil corporation Mobius is back and is holding Lily hostage and using her as the core (host) for the new world created inside the STEM.
This new world inside STEM in called Union. A classic white picket fence town in nowhere America. But all is not well here. A demented photographer is on the prowl who considers himself as an artist. His art is murder. As he kills, he snaps his victims’ horrifying last expressions and leaves them scattered around various Union locations for all to see. The town of Union is a semi-open world that is on the verge of collapse. It is literally folding in on itself.
Throughout the 12 to 15 hour campaign, you will spend most of your time navigating through these various areas and encountering bosses and other terrible enemies, all while trying to avoid the photographer. Connecting all these areas as they collapse is the “Marrow”, an underground maintenance area that allows free travel through computer terminals. Spotted around these various locations are characters that dish out side quests which will reward you with items and sometimes weapons.
Crafting is of huge importance in The Evil Within 2 and you won’t survive with making use of the robust system. As you explore around Union, you will find many crafting items such as weapon parts, nails, smoke powder and pipes. These can all be used to craft various types of ammunition and medical packs and also upgrade different aspects of your weapons such as power, reload speed and ammo capacity. This can be done at workbenches in the safe houses that you will discover as you play. You can also craft out in the field but it will cost you double the amount of resources. Only use this option when you really, really need it.
You can also upgrade Sebastian, when you kill enemies they will drop green goo which can be collected and then used to improve skills like combat, stealth, athleticism, health and recovery. There are definitely certain skills you should take early on that can help in the long run. Bottle Break, Ambush, Endurance and Second Chance should be given priority.
Stealth is also an important component to the game. You will spend quite a bit of time crouching in this game as you sneak around avoiding stronger enemies and also trying to get into position for a silent insta-kill on weaker ones. It’s easier to thin the herd quietly rather than risk a whole mob being alerted and chasing you down. Cover is handled in two ways in the game. The first is you can hide in the foliage that is growing around Union. When you enter, Sebastian changes to a grey outline to signify that he is covered and cannot be seen. The second type of cover is the usual click to cover type which allows Sebastian to hide and stick to objects such as walls and crates. This doesn’t work as well. First, it can be tough to get into cover in the first place as you need to be very accurate before the cover mechanic kicks in. This can lead to being spotted when really you shouldn’t have been. You could say it heightens the tension but it can get really annoying when you aren’t doing anything wrong other than the cover system failing you.
Thankfully combat is meaty and brutal. Gore galore. The pistol can deliver exploding headshots after you have upgraded it, while the shotgun can tear limb from limb while up close. The crossbow adds a more tactical approach with the different kind of bolts such as explosive, freeze and shock being used in different ways. You can even sets traps using the bolts which can come in super handy in boss battles.
The best thing The Evil Within 2 does is avoid the camp feeling of the first game. Yes, at heart it’s a B movie but it’s a great one. The story never outstays its welcome and is one of the best survival horror stories of the past few years. After the disappointment of Resident Evil 7, this game gets what the genre is all about and steers it back on track.
The Evil Within 2 looks and sounds great. It is a definite upgrade from the first game. Union is beautifully rendered in and outside and the various monsters you encounter are wonderfully realised. The sound design in general is great. Monsters, weapons and the music all are very well done. The only place it stumbles is the voice acting which is a mixture of average to pretty awful. All in all this is a great looking and sounding survival horror game.
The Evil Within 2 was played using the PlayStation 4 version of the game running on a PlayStation 4 Pro.