Earlier this year Capcom released Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, a game attempting to revisit classic survival-horror tropes for a modern day audience. This turned out to be a massive success, and Tango Gamework’s The Evil Within 2 achieves this same honor by reinventing the survival-horror genre with a few experimental changes to the formula that everyone is already familiar with.

Story:

The Evil Within 2 returns Sebastian Castellanos to a new hell-riddled world within the Stem machine. The same machine Mobius hoped to abuse from the original game. Three years have passed since the incident at Beacon Mental Asylum. It was this Asylum that caused Sebastian to become a broken man and washed up cop. No one believed him, but that didn’t stop him from searching for answers into Mobius. Without any clues and at the bottom of a bottle, Juli Kidman, returns to offer him a chance. A chance to rescue his daughter Lily.

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Released back in 2014, The Evil Within received positive reviews for its revival of the survival-horror franchise and resource management mechanics. However, the game did take some criticism for its confusing plot. The Evil Within 2 went back to the drawing board and simplified the story for its sequel.  By relying more on emotional sacrifices and focused characters, the plot was easier to understand. This also made the game lack the same charm as the original title.

The first game was more cryptic, and the antagonist Ruvik was horrific to deal with. While the enemies of Union are terrifying, they don’t hold a candle to Ruvik’s meticulous ramblings about the brain. With that said, the story does have an emotional core that brings everything together. Without spoiling too much, the game also has a very satisfying ending. There are places the franchise can go, and I’m curious to see how it culminates.

Graphics:

Visual improvements have occurred across the board, and Sebastian’s stubble is even more clear than in the first game. Environments are cleaner and more open, giving the landscape a silent ambiance. Creative enemy designs make particular bosses stand out, such as the art obsessed Stefano Valentini. The closed distance to Sebastian in third-person makes an odd change to the game. Fans will be happy to know that if you complete the game, you can have the option to add the cinematic bars that the first game featured.

Sound:

Audio design for any survival-horror title is crucial. Master techniques utilized in the first game are back, with the slightest noises treated with a professional mark. Whether you are walking through mucky hallways or kicking a stray bottle on the ground, fear is there. The sound design is top notch, but some of the voice acting is a little hokey.  Players will know that is some of the charm that The Evil Within 2 displays.

A beautiful score accompanies Sebastian throughout his trials in Union, composed by the talented Masatoshi Yanagi. Once the game ends, you’ll find yourself humming the orchestral score that’s scattered through set piece moments.

Gameplay:

Mechanics in The Evil Within 2 have changed slightly, one being the camera that is centred on Sebastian. Third-person controls are somewhat the same, but allow easier access by making them streamlined. Aiming is still a process, but that’s how survival-horror titles give the player a sense of dread. Sebastian can still crouch and sneak up on enemies with his knife and avoid danger if needed. With the sprinting mechanic tweaked, players will notice a slight difference while running.

Throughout the game players will be able to upgrade Sebastian’s abilities and weapons like in the original The Evil Within, using the same gel substance. A skill tree introduced early on in the game has upgrade points available to spend on stealth, stamina, health regeneration, etc. Also scattered throughout the small town of Union are weapon parts that increase the rate of fire and amount of ammunition for weapons. Upgrading weapons to their full potential require these special parts. You can find these parts along with Bethesda Easter eggs hidden across the map.

Along with items that assist Sebastian, there are also side-quests for players to complete, with the awards being very helpful for completing the game. Rewards contain access to new weapons and residual memories. Memories contain pockets of events that happened around Union explaining on how the city was overtaken by the Lost. These aren’t necessary to collect, but they shed a lot of light on Mobius’ operations and experiments conducted in the Marrow; tunnels used for passageways between the city.

Sebastian can also talk with survivors to learn more about the story and gain insight on what happened to Lily. Players will want to consistently speak with them for information and opportunities to find weapon parts.

Verdict:

When stepping into  The Evil Within 2, players might think that it’s taking a more action-oriented approach. The game’s big cinematic setup and easier mechanics make it seem different. Once you navigate through the dark hallways and question everything that is in front of you, the core of the title is brought fresh into your mind. The Evil Within 2 is not about catering to a fan’s expectations. This game wants to push the limits of what survival-horror can be.

Throughout the 17 chapters of blood wrenching fun, each decision you make concerning resource management will shape your overall experience. The only thing that I regret in my 20 hour play-through was that I couldn’t explore more of the Stem.  If you’re a survival-horror fan and need something to play this October, The Evil Within 2 is a great choice.

The Evil Within 2 is now available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

THE GOOD
Audio design
Mechanics and gunplay
Open-world
THE BAD
Unanswered questions
Simplified plot
Voice acting
8.5
Great

Review Summary

The Evil Within 2 manages to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to traditional survival-horror titles while experimenting in new ground and refining mechanics, but the odd choice in voice actors and simplified plot make it lack the personality of the first title.

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