Three years after the release of one of my favourite horror games of all-time, The Evil Within is back with its highly anticipated sequel. Which is quite fitting as the sequel is also set three years after the events of the of the first game, which focused around Beacon Mental Hospital, after the evil empire known as Mobius were hell-bent on creating a new world, however this world was full of demons and unspeakable horrors that tried to merge our worlds as one.

Following the events of the first outing, protagonist detective Sebastian Castellanos struggled to cope with what had happened and left the Krimson City Police Department. But things did not get any easier for Sebastian following the death of his young daughter Lilly and the disappearance of his wife, who was also a detective at the KCPD; he naturally struggled to cope with life and thus went all Max Payne as he turned to life on the bottle. However, when all hope is seemingly lost, an unexpected opportunity arises and it seems that life is perhaps not what Sebastian had thought it would be (which should come as no surprise considering the premise of this series). Mobius has pulled Sebastian back into their horrific world, which is perhaps more deadly than what came before, but if our fallen detective wants answers and some kind of resolution to it all, then he has little choice but to answer the call of his sworn enemy, and once more face the horrors that lie within.

Carrying on from the first game, The Evil Within 2 is a tough game, even on the normal difficulty. In most other cases, The Evil Within 2’s normal mode would be a fitting hard difficulty found elsewhere. There will be plenty of times when you may feel that you died unfairly, heck, there’s even been times when an enemy seemingly appeared out of nowhere like Randy Orton and insta-killed me, which had me yelling out loud in frustration. It’s of course not to the difficulty to the likes of Dark Souls or Bloodborne, at least on the normal difficulty, but it’s still one of the most testing games in its genre. But much like the first outing and other games with a high difficulty, it does grant you an extra dose of self-satisfaction when you pass a challenging area or defeat a tough boss.

I would say however, that this game isn’t quite as difficult as the first, as long as you use stealth to your best advantage. One of the main reasons that The Evil Within 2 isn’t quite as difficult is that some of the more basic enemy types such as The Haunted, no longer need burning when downed.  This does give you a little more time to breathe within the game’s somewhat open-sandbox areas, but once you’ve got through a key moment, the area may be refreshed with more enemies and, most likely, more challenging than what came before.

While much of The Evil Within 2 remains familiar, it has undergone some improved and new features. For starters, the crafting system has had an overhaul. Rather than just being able to craft bolts for your Crossbow, as long as you have gathered the necessary components, you can not only craft ammo for each of your weapons, but you can also craft health items and even weapons. You can craft lower end items such as ammo and health packs on the fly, but weapons must be crafted at a workbench in one of your safe houses. Keeping in-tone with the vast improvements made to the crafting system, the way you can upgrade Sebastian’s attributes such as health, stealth, recovery and athleticism (seriously, upgrade stamina and speed recovery asap, as you’ll be spending a lot of time running away) has been improved upon, offering even more skill-tree paths. Like before, you’ll have to collect green (and red) gel from downed enemies to upgrade your abilities. The stronger the enemy you kill, the more gel you will be rewarded with.

The mission areas in the original game were quite linear, but as long as you dared to explore what areas there were to explore, you might be rewarded with some much needed ammo or finding hidden collectible statues (which are still present in the sequel). However, now the areas in the sequel are much more open than before, almost open-sandbox if you will. Other than venturing off-track in the hope of acquiring some valuable resources, The Evil Within 2 is also filled with side-quests, as well as the main mission campaigns. This formula kind of reminds me of what was attempted with Silent Hill Downpour, but is implemented with far greater success in The Evil Within 2. Not only will you be rewarded with valuable items should you choose to complete the side-quests, you may just encounter some sinister creatures or uncover some added back-story that you may not come across by just partaking in the main missions. So there are plenty of reasons to take on the side-quests if you dare.

Deciding whether you take on the extra activities could boil down to whether you’re low on resources and are in of dire need, so it maybe a gamble worth paying off and sometimes you may feel forced upon in doing so, because resource management is once more a solid strategy here and you must make sure that every shot counts. If all else fails, you can always rely on good old stealth, which is certainly the way I’d encourage anyone to play this game and thankfully, with just the addition of being able to hide in bushes, gives you an added (and more natural) chance of surviving, it will of course give you some opportunities to sneak on an enemy for a stealth kill, though not all enemies will be susceptible to this.

One of the other notable changes made to the sequel is that the game looks even better than before. The reason for this is likely down to the fact that developers Tango Gameworks no longer have to devote time in developing for the last gen systems, as The Evil Within 2 is now only available for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and the improvements are clear to see, not only from a visual standpoint, but also the enhancements that have been made to the gameplay. The game does suffer from some texture pop-ups and some invisible walls, but overall the game looks smoother, crisper and a pleasure for your eyes to behold. Naturally the game is full of tension (and even had me jump to a generic in-game tree) with creatures spawned from hell that would give even Braun Strowman nightmares, but without giving to much away, some of the main enemies have a more human touch, which quite possibly makes the whole experience that more sinister.

Overall, The Evil Within 2 offers more than its predecessor, in terms of gameplay and visual improvements, and there’s even an awesome mini-game that I knew nothing about which is a clear nod to another very popular mini-game, from a very popular survival horror title from years back. I literally had no idea this existed in the game and much like me, you’ll probably become addicted to this mini-game very quickly as it will absorb much of your time and rewards you for your efforts. Trust me, it’s awesome and it’s worth your time.

As a pure horror experience, is the sequel as scary as the first outing? I suppose that all comes down to personal preference, but for me personally, even though The Evil Within 2 is an overall improvement on an already fantastic survival horror game, I found it to be not quite as scary, but then the original game has set such high standards in my humble opinion. That said, we have been truly blessed this year already in this genre with the fantastic Resident Evil 7, and while the sequel to Shinji Mikami’s next big franchise hasn’t quite taken that Survival Horror crown for 2017, in a very competitive year, The Evil Within 2 is one of my favourite games this year, it’s not only a worthy sequel, but a must for fans of survival horror.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake