Review: The Evil Within 2
I remember the first Evil Within and how terrifying it was, it managed to really scare the crap out of me, which is something that only some games can do to me. It didn't only scare me, it also brought a fresh look for the genre by giving us a deep, interactive, and interesting story. A story like no other, one that would truly draw players in, directed by the one and only, Shinji Mikami, creator of the similar franchise, Resident Evil. The sequel, Evil Within 2, released a while ago, and it aims to be even more scary than the original, with bigger enviroments, enemies that make the first game's enemies look normal, as well as somewhat of a closure on Sebastian's story, for once. I've now played through the game, and I definitely have some things to talk about. Let's go!
Platform: Xbox One S.
Introduction The game begins immedietly with a kid's drawing being on fire, with seconds after revealing that it's the results of an entire house being on fire.
I later learn that it's actually Sebastian Castellanos' house that's on fire. Out of nowhere, I see an out-of-breath Sebastian rushing towards the fire, in hope of his daugter and wife being alive, even though the whole place is being gulfed in flames. Upon entering the house, Sebastian discovers that his wife, Myra, isn't anywhere to be seen at all, adding fuel to his will to save Lily, his daughter.
He enters her room, only to find that she too seems to be missing, but not really as she appears behind him just seconds after. Filled with relief, he hugs her, though with just seconds later revealing that everything isn't what it seems to be, in the form of Lily turning into a horrifying burning corpse right in his arms, and Sebastian waking up in a bar. Turns out, he was having a nightmare, but the actual fire did happen a few years back.
Now living as an ex-cop with nothing to lose, Sebastian stumbles upon a familiar face, Kiddman. She proposes a deal for him from Mobius, a deal that might help give him closure about his daughter and wife, even the chance of actually seeing them again. With no choice but to accept the offer, he once again enters the terrifying world of STEM. This is where the game officially begins as far as gameplay goes. Visuals/performance The first game wasn't bad looking at all, and it performed in a playable state even though it was technically a title that was made for last generation hardware since it also released for Xbox 360 (which almost always results in the current generation version not getting the one it could've gotten),
but it's the sequel that really deserves most of the praise within visuals. The second game truly is a beautiful game, from the lightning looking photo-realistic at times, extremely detailed character models (especially Sebastian), to the high-resolution textures.
I was constantly taking screenshots of all the amazing looking scenes, some of it thanks to the brilliant level design. Speaking of levels, they're a lot more open now, offering a lot more freedom in exploration, and a sense of not being forced to go a certain way to proceed further.
The real difference with the first game and the second one, however, is definitely how much more quality there is. When comparing them, it's clear that the first game was made with Xbox 360 in mind, and not Xbox One, as the second game really does look miles better, voice acting is improved upon a lot, it's way bigger, more ambitious, and cut-scenes are a lot more cinematic (when I think of it, the whole game is more cinematic in every possible way). Literally every aspect has been improved upon by severe degrees.
The resolution seems to be running in native 900p, which is weird since Xbox One S should easily run it in native 1080p, but the overall picture quality makes it look really good. Now, the framerate is something that they really could've optimized a lot better, as it's running at 30fps, but some parts can suffer from noticable drops, without any reason for it to happen. Other than that, the framerate is solid. The Evil Within 2 is one of the better looking games I've played this generation, and the audio design is great.
It's simply a stunning game to look at, and it really shines with its excellent lightning, effects like blood (the blood is of a very vibrant red color, and it looks amazing, in a weird way) and gunfire, detailed character models, level design that's very well made, and incredibly cinematic cut-scenes. Bug/glitch wise, I actually never ever stumbled upon one, so it's a really stable game. Gameplay Just like the first game, the game is played in third-person, and uses survival horror elements. A lot of the gameplay is made up of facing nightmarish creatures/enemies, whether it's by going in guns blazing, or taking them on in stealth. Puzzles make a comeback, and this time they're even harder to complete, though not all of them.
One puzzle saw me adjusting different platforms on the ground designed for blood to flow in them, opening a door once completed. At first, I thought it was hard, but when I got used to the concept, I easily overcame it. There's even more weapons now, too, and it's a perfect combination of different types: shotguns, pistols, an assault rifle, a sniper rifle, a crossbow, and more. I was able to upgrade them by sitting in the upgrade chair, accompanied by the nurse from the first game, though with this time it all being set in a police office.
Running out of ammo is never really a problem in the sequel, as I was able to create my own ammo whenever I wanted to by using material found within the world of STEM. A Evil Within game wouldn't be true to it's nature if it didn't include some of the most nightmare inducing monsters ever seen in games, from new foes like the Guardian (tall and huge woman with multiple heads, as well as a buzzsaw arm), Anima, to familiar ones like Laura and the Keeper. Some of them look ridicolously creepy!
Due to the game being technically open-world now, there's also side-missions to be completed within areas, and while they weren't that deep, they were still fun & made me feel like I was more involved with the world and its people. I got to say that I wasn't expecting it to have side-missions and an open-world (well, kind of), but I definitely approve of it. Another thing I wasn't expecting is interactive conversation, much like in the Mass Effect and The Witcher games, but it works rather well, though with the conversations looking a bit stiff or awkward due to the character's motionless expressions. Other than that, they work exactly like in most games that use interactive conversations.
Overall gameplay is simple; played in third-person, bring up the weapon wheel to change weapon, walk with LS, face different enemies (and bosses), use stealth whenever you're out of ammo or doesn't want to be seen in a fight, stop from time to time to upgrade weapons and skills, explore areas to find supplies, and more. The thing is, the game never forced me to do all this, it gave me full freedom, instead. It's very recommended, though, as it helps a lot for all the dangers within the world of STEM. The game uses an autosave system, but also gives the player a bit of control as the option to save manually while being in the police office, is a thing.
I love the fact that there's so much that has been transfered from the original game, like the mirror that transports Sebastian to & from the police office, while still improving, and implenting new aspects to the game. It's staying true to how the original game worked, yet still improving and adapting. The game is even more brutal this time, too, as it should be. Shooting an enemy in the head will results in an explosion of blood, and some of Sebastian's deaths are disturbingly gruesome.
I got killed by one of the enemies that walk on four legs, and it bit my head right off. Generally, the game just works well - gunplay is realistic & satisfying to take part in, enemy AI is smart and does everything it can to stop Sebastian, boss fights are terrifying and fun to encounter (challenging, too, at times), the story is deep & and draws the player in, stealth is equally as good of an alternative as going guns blazing is (though not as fun), the open world of Union is pretty big, and exploration is very fun.
I can not stress enough how scary the sequel is, though, I was constantly looking behind me, as the atmosphere is THAT haunting. There's a few jump-scare moments, too, and they're really terrifying. The skill system is very deep, and features a ton of different options to make Sebastian's survival in union easier. There's a lot of replay value as well, since there's a new game + mode. Story The story picks up three years after the first game, and centers once again around Sebastian Castellanos, but is emphasized on his family.
The events of Krimson City (also known as the first game's STEM location) left Sebastian with too many ghosts in his head to handle, also resulting in the loss of his job. He lost a big part of his life but acquired something even better - a daughter named Lily. His life still managed to find a way to ruin itself, however, as Lily and Myra "died" in a tragic accident at home. The reason to why I put " between died, is because they didn't really die. Instead, that's what he's led to believe, for Mobius to keep his daughter in possession to be able to run their STEM world.
You see, each STEM world needs a host, and Mobius discovered that Lily is the best option for it, which is why they took her away from Sebastian, and led him to believe that he had lost the two most important people in his life. The story revolves around Sebastian and his quest on finding them both, though by once again having to enter STEM. In it, he encounters all kinds of people, both friendly ones, and hostile, mostly the latter. The story is a lot more personal this time, and isn't only about Sebastian - he has to come to terms with what actually happened to his family, and for once get closure, to not constantly blame himself for something that wasn't his fault.
Throughout the game, I got to see a side of him that wasn't present in the first game, a side that gave me confidence in that he really wants to make things right, he's tired of being a puppet to an organisation that's been tormenting him for years, ever since Krimson City, especially now that he knows it's their fault. I met many characters, and they all had their each unique personalities, with one of them even turning into a boss. Some of them have side-missions that can be completed for something in return. As the game is a lot more open now, there has to be some way for the player to travel between places, and that's in the form of using a place called The Marrow.
It's essentially a STEM world within a STEM world, I think, and has computers that serves as entry points. With these computers, Sebastian can quickly travel between places. The game is filled with death, both when it comes to friendly people, and enemies, but the ending is the most satisfying part, it's one that I really liked, and one that didn't make me want to turn the game off immedietly in rage once the credits rolled. It almost felt like a feel-good movie by the end, which isn't a bad thing.
Juli Kidman makes a return into the sequel, as well, and while she's not physically with Sebastian as much as she's in the first game, she still plays a big role, even though unpleasant secrets are unearthed about her. I didn't see her as a very important person in the original, and she seemed off at times, but in the sequel, I really liked her by the end of it. She's awesome! The ending does imply that a third game will relese, too. All in all Sequels can end up as huge disappointments and not meet the greatness that the original had, but many of them can also be seen as even better experiences than their predecessor. The Evil Within 2 is a worthy sequel to the first game, and not only does it improve upon literally every aspect, it also terrified me even more. The story is long, and finally gives the protagonist closure, answering many questions that surfaced after the ending of The Evil Within. It's a visual treat, too, and while performance isn't the best, its potential is at least not held back by aging hardware. I've enjoyed every single second spent in the game, and I can easily say that it's even better than the original by miles, especially since there's so much more quality involved, both in the form of visuals and story, but also in terms of gameplay, exploration, boss fights, level of horror, and cut-scenes. It'll stay as one of the best games I've played this generation, for sure. The story gave me so much more satisfaction this time, too, and never bored me at all. I'm really looking forward to a third game! It's definitely worth the money.
The Evil Within 2 is available both digitally & physically, with a price tag of $60. Are you interested in buying the game? That can be done here: The Evil Within 2 - Microsoft Store. A review code was provided by Bethesda for review purposes. This review is written by Jesper Ingemansson, and is based on his honest opinion about the game.