The first Evil Within is probably the scariest video game (in terms of sheer confusion, grotesquery, and tension) in my opinion, even though I played it a whole two years after the title originally released. There was truly a magical sensation to being kept in the dark for so long and still having a great payoff. Horror experiences, whether it be movies, shows or books end up falling flat for one reason or another. Naturally, The Evil Within 2 was on my radar for this year and funny enough I fell into a similar dilemma. I acquired the sequel on launch day and completed the first few chapters. Then I didn’t touch game for nearly a month. Hopefully this review paints a pretty picture as to why.
The Evil Within 2 picks up not too long after its predecessor. Sebastian is a stressed out, drunk mess who hasn’t come to terms with what happened at Beacon. Unfortunately, no one believed he was put into a pod that connected multiple minds to one subconscious. They sure as hell didn’t believe him about all the atrocities he saw and fought through either. Halfway through another bottle of hard liquor our hero is approached by Kidman, a secret agent of Mobius who had joined Sebastian on his trip through hell. She reveals that Mobius created their own STEM system and has been using his daughter, who supposedly died in a house fire, as the main construct of another subconscious plane.
Things don’t exactly go smoothly as Sebastian’s life took a nosedive once Lily “died” and his wife disappeared looking for her. Once he finally arrives at the new system, he is told that another evil has warped their STEM once again. It was up to him to infiltrate the created town of Union in order to find out what happened and reunite with his only child. All previous attempts had failed and Mobius’ last ditch effort was to bring in the problematic father. Super secret organizations who orchestrate world events aren’t really known for their compassion after all. The journey is just as perilous and features more than just one powerful player this time around. Plus, a nice dash of secrets are finally revealed.
The gameplay in The Evil Within 2 remains relatively unchanged. You control Sebastian from a third person view while exploring and battling monstrous creatures with weapons. Some missions and exploratory efforts will reward you with new weapons, upgrades, and ammo. Although you’ll most likely get your ammo defeating the many hellish ghouls and creatures Union throws at you. The weapon wheel returns and is still a breeze to use. Pushing R3 stops time around you and gives you time to change ammo types, change weapons, or quickly craft parts. Other pickups will give you the ability to unlock abilities and upgrades. To get these you’ll need to do some serious resource hunting and there will be plenty of that for better or worse.
This time around the game’s nature is a little more open. The main places will be decent sized areas that you have to traverse and explore, a sharp departure from the first title’s linear majority. There will still be tunnels and places where there’s only one obvious way forward, but the overall effect is a downturn in scares and an upturn in annoyance. This is why I took such a long break from one session to another. That and of course Assassin’s Creed Origins and Horizon Zero Dawn’s Frozen Wilds DLC. I was taken out of the experience that I had just completed months earlier. Tight and frightening hallways/pathways where deadly monsters have to be avoided were replaced with parts of a town that were pretty explorable. I could just run away from anything that bothered me and more or less made these parts a chore to pass.
Now don’t get me wrong, The Evil Within 2 is still plenty scary and grotesque. Trying to find your daughter and all the evil around her will keep you on your toes. Especially with the occasional revelation here and there. There were many times I uttered, “Oh you can just f*ck off,” purely out of dread. It’s just that you kind of have a bearing on STEM and its rules, or lack thereof. The first title completely and totally threw you for a loop because you had absolutely no frickin’ idea what was going on and why environments were shifting like Chris Harding’s love for his child. This could be tallied up to sequelitis issues, but as I mentioned the game still has plenty of nerve-racking frights. Like when “Sebaaaaastian…” whispers through the PS4 controller in an eerie, high-pitched voice.
What shouldn’t be chalked up to sequel problems are two important factors in any video game: hitbox detection and movement. The Evil Within 2 has a very unique problem. Nearly every action you take will be met with an extra 1-3 second delay. Climbing something? Delay after every time you get a footing. Attacking an enemy with a melee? Delay after every executed swipe. Picking something up? O boy you better believe you’re waiting a lot longer than you think. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, it just seriously hinders some of the faster paced experiences. I frustratingly died many times to this because I was done an action and ready to move on to the next action, but I could only wait until Sebastian decided he wanted to go.
Additionally, you can get grabbed by some enemies who were way outside our character’s hitbox. They had no business grappling me when I was a few, full feet away. This problem was even more frustrating when it happened at the same time as the delay. There were also a few issues with enemies detecting you when they had no business doing so. I’m not just talking about taking cover and them seeing you through walls. I’m talking about being across the level’s map and they just sense you there because and make things a whole lot harder. Sometimes it got to the point where I had to wonder what was with some of these game design choices. At these points were when I thought about quitting. I’m glad I didn’t though.
It was briefly touched upon before and deserves its own paragraph. The sounds and voice acting were marvelous. The voice actors/actresses definitely deserve some props for their skills here along with sound designers. Most things were particularly goosebump inducing when creepy music, deranged singing, or bodies being torn apart could be heard. One entity even floated around and sang, “La la, la la la,” over and over again. Needless to say I did not enjoy her company and wanted out immediately.
The Evil Within 2 PS4 Review
The Evil Within 2 changes some key navigation possibilities and adds in an unfortunate dose of hampering and questionable technical problems. Despite the setbacks, I enjoyed Sebastian’s second journey through STEM and was extremely happy with the end result overall. It may not have been quite as groundbreaking as the first, but this outing is a fitting entry into the series. I just implore you to continue the game, regardless of how frustrating it can be.
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