With Halloween season now upon us, The Evil Within 2 returns with a new terror set spook us.
As Halloween draws near, so too do the spooky releases that are soon to follow. And for this season, Bethesda rolls out with the release of The Evil Within 2, a sequel to the 2014 release by Tango Gameworks.
Word of warning fellow readers – if you’re coming into The Evil Within 2 and haven’t played the first game (like, myself), you should probably do one of two things: Play the first game to avoid potential spoilers, or look up a plot summary on Wikipedia.
As somebody who is used to playing Resident Evil, I assumed that The Evil Within 2 would play like those games and not be so heavily reliant on the events of its predecessor. Unfortunately for me, the game does make several references to the first game and relies upon players having already completed the title prior.
With that said, it’s not to say that it’s impossible for anyone to put together the pieces and follow through the plot. Eventually I was able to grasp the events surrounding the game, and follow through with the vague knowledge I had about it. However if you’re going in blind, expect to find yourself just as confused as I was.
Following the events from the first game, you play as Sebastian Castellanos – a former detective shamed from his position and succumbed to alcoholism. Haunted by the events of Beacon Hospital and surviving unspeakable horrors, things start off grim for our protagonist. Not only does everyone assume our hero is a crazy drunk, but to make matters worse his daughter is dead and his wife has gone missing.
After waking up from a drunken coma at some dive bar, Sebastian is greeted by his former partner Juli Kidman (who in the last game turned out to be a secret agent working for an evil organisation).
After a brief drunken rant, Sebastian is told that his daughter is still alive, and is in fact, trapped inside a horror matrix system known as the STEM. Given Sebastian’s experience with this program (the first game revolves around him being trapped inside it), it’s up to him to return to this horror simulator once again, find his daughter and end this madness once and for all.
Set in a virtual town known as Union, players will find that most the residents have either turned into a mindless zombie, or have been killed by one. Known as ‘The Lost’, these vile beings are residents who have suffered a severe mental breakdown and undergone a series of gross mutations. Responding to nothing but their most primal instincts, these creatures will attack anything on sight, ripping apart limbs and using tools to help take down the player.
In addition to this main enemy type, The Evil Within 2 also has a variety of terrifying monsters to help escalate the tension. For instance, before you even encounter your very first zombie creature, players will come face-to-face with one of the most horrific looking creatures in any survival horror game, the Guardian.
Made out of the limbs of recently deceased townsfolk and armed with a buzz-saw, this towering abomination is first introduced way before players even have a pistol. Laughing maniacally, this creature will chase players all around the map, wreaking havoc to anyone and anything that gets in the range of its buzz-saw.
Another horrifying creature that you’ll want to spend the rest of the game never encountering is a creature known as the Lament. Naked, with pale skin, multiple arms, a deformed stance and a green gas permeating all around it, this lamenting creature will screech out in horror at the site of the player, calling upon any nearby enemy to aid it in battle.
While it may seem this creature may be reliant on the aid of enemies, staying far away from its grasp is required. Get too close and this creature will spew acid into the face of players, resulting in an instant death.
With monsters around every corner, all you can do is run and hide!
So with very little ammo to start you off, no weapon and a town full of monsters eager to kill you, stealth plays a huge role in this game. Ducking behind cover, concealing yourself in bushes and using glass bottles as distractions, players will be spending a good amount of their time avoiding as much combat and conserving ammunition.
Upon starting up the game, the first couple of hours will have you navigating through some remnants of this once peaceful town, collecting nearby weapons and crafting medical aid.
As you can probably tell from my description, The Evil Within 2 is set inside an open-world of this town, meaning that there are heaps of little areas that players can explore. Within these areas, health items, ammunition and weapons lie around waiting for players to come and collect them, along with some side missions for players looking into the events leading up to this.
Overall, I find this Last of Us style of gameplay thoroughly enjoyable. Ammo and health items are limited stock, and when you add this with areas that are filled with enemies, it adds a great deal of stress for the player. As such, in order to survive these dreaded areas, finding these crafting items through exploration is encouraged.
This to me feels like a great design choice for the game, as it rewards players who are brave enough to soil themselves in the hopes of collecting some gunpowder.
But as well crafting items, players can also level up their skills to help improve their combat abilities, or sneak past a swarm of enemies. However, while this can be done by exploring and finding hidden items, it is also done by defeating monsters as well.
So with that said, there is also a huge incentive to kill off monsters, rather than play hide-and-seek for the most part.
Though as exciting as The Evil Within 2 may seem at times, there are a couple of gripes that are worth addressing.
First off, the enemy AI isn’t always the brightest, and most will fall under a predictable pattern of movement that players can easily maneuver past. For instance, when I encountered a boss fight with one of the Guardian monsters (those huge monsters created from corpses with the buzz-saw hand), I found that the creature couldn’t jump over small metal barriers. As such, I spent a good minute or two making it run around in circles as I jumped over it.
Secondly, there are some sections in which I noticed a few texture pop-ins, in particular when it came to bodies laying on the ground as a set piece. As well as this, frame-rate becomes a minor issue in certain areas of the game. But overall, it seems run consistently on the PlayStation 4.
As confusing as it may be, The Evil Within 2 is still a rather enjoyable game. While the open world hub elements might sound like a distraction from the core horror experience, somehow this game made it work. With clever level designs, a great escalation in enemy varieties and placement, horror enthusiasts will find a great experience through this title.
If you’re looking for a title that will get you into the spirit of Halloween, look no further, because The Evil Within 2 has you covered.