The Evil Within 2 Hands-On – A new age of spooks

Platforms:
PCPS4Xbox One
Released:
October 13, 2017
Publisher:
Bethesda Softworks
Developer:
Tango Gameworks

Feature article

Thanks to Bethesda we were able to try out The Evil Within 2 early.

From the clearly disturbed mind of Shinji Mikami (creator of the Resident Evil series), The Evil Within 2 takes the acclaimed franchise to a new level with a unique combination of terrifying thrills and survival horror. Taking place just three years after the original, Sebastian Castellanos must partner up with Mobius, the sinister organisation behind the first ordeal, in order to find his daughter. Sebastian must delve back into the horrifying and distorted world called STEM one more time.

 

The villain pursuing Lilly in The Evil Within 2

Years before the events of the first game, Sebastian’s wife and daughter were killed in a tragic house fire, or so he thought. The Evil Within 2 follows Sebastian as he is transported to the town of Union where his daughter’s mind is at the very core of the STEM. Union is a strange mix of those linear areas from the first game and new wide open areas for exploration, creating a strange mix of old elements and newer ones.

The start of the demo is extremely similar to the first title, with Sebastian finding himself in a warehouse-like building with some horrific imagery and mind tricks jumping out at him every few seconds. Sebastian is chased down a linear pathway, narrowly escaping danger with quick reflexes and out of the box thinking. The thing chasing you is just nightmare fuel on steroids, I can’t really describe it so take a look at it below if that is your kind of thing…

After escaping the nightmarish image that has somehow overtaken the clown from IT in my brain, the game takes a brave leap away from the structure it used in the first Evil Within title. The Evil Within 2 sheds its linear skin for an open-world look, with the game funnelling out of closed corridors and into a whole neighbourhood of horrors.

The neighbourhood in The Evil Within 2

While survival horror was always the intention in the previous game, here the survival element is really brought forth, with players able to take their time and comb through entire urban settings for secrets, side missions, loot and mini boss fights. Players are encouraged to spend as much time as they like exploring and interacting with these areas and the world this time around, instead of being dragged through the main plot.

“The story we’ve crafted for you is very compelling” says Shinji Mikami, Executive Producer for the Evil Within 2. “Each stage you’ll delve into is very unique. I hope people enjoy the game, and I encourage everyone to thoroughly explore the world.”

“Instead of forcing players through linear areas with scripted scares, the horror comes organically through suspense, exploration and innovation.”

Resident Evil 7 showed us that it’s possible to combine gritty survival horror with a supernatural theme and make it work. This is a great example that The Evil Within 2 seems to have followed, even continuing the forced feeding of rotten flesh into one of its early cutscenes. It seems like The Evil Within 2 is finding its identity fitting more closely to that of Resident Evil 7, whereas the original Evil Within was much more closely related to earlier Resident Evil games.

Instead of forcing players through linear areas with scripted scares, the horror comes organically through suspense, exploration and innovation.

Searching the urban areas of the game lead to more mysteries with treacherous puzzles and hostile enemies around every corner. Frequencies are used as a device to lead Sebastian towards side missions and his daughter Lily, aiding in navigating through the sparse settings that one can easily waste a fair amount of time exploring. Sebastian also puts his detective skills to good use this time around with a new mechanic of investigation. After reaching the source of one of the frequencies, Sebastian is able to enter investigation mode. Investigation mode shows a blue tinted alternate world where he is able to see glowing clues to what has transpired. Thankfully no enemies can attack him in this mode and it acts as the main momentum for the plot moving forward.

The core gameplay is much the same, with limited ammo and an arsenal of weapons to find, the game knows what worked and kept it around. However this may be subject to change as the game goes on and introduces new guns and craftable upgrades/weapons later on. Stealth is the most useful combat mechanic, allowing for free kills without wasting resources or alerting enemies to your location. Making your way across the map requires stealth as enemies are fast and come in numbers. Fighting your way through an area is no longer a viable option here, although it may become easier later on in the game.

From what the demo suggests, The Evil Within 2 is an improvement on the series and an advancement to the genre of horror that seems to be coming out these days. The Evil With 2 has taken on all the criticism it received the first time around and learned from its mistakes, creating a truly scary experience that will no doubt leave its fair share of gamers quivering in fear when it releases this holiday season.

The Evil Within 2 is available on Friday the 13th of October, the second scariest day of the month.