Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: Survival Horror
Release: October 13th, 2017
Review copy provided by Bethesda Softworks (Playstation 4)
s someone who really enjoyed the first Evil Within, even with its potential to frustrate you through sluggish movement, combat and mediocre dialogue, i finished the game with a smile on my face enjoying the ride. The potential for greatness was there, but the game was held back in the end. So can the sequel iron out these things? Well, it does and it doesn’t. The Evil Within 2 keeps its quirks like a trademark, almost on purpose it seems sometimes and still accomplishes a genuinely good survival-horror experience.
WELCOME TO STEM, WE HOPE YOU HAVE A NICE NIGHTMARE
Sebastian Castellanos, our protagonist from the first game is back looking for his daughter who was thought dead after a devastating house fire. When confronted with the opportunity to safe his daughter, he enters STEM, a Matrix-like virtual reality, to rescue her. The town he enters called Union, was designed to be an idyllic quiet getaway, but has turned into a pure nightmare, where the citizens have either been killed or mutated into monsters chasing Sebastian down.
WHAT HAPPENED TO MY CARDIO?
Once you set foot in Union and face your first monsters, it is clear that Sebastian’s abilities have been reset in an extreme fashion. Sprinting is limited to a few seconds until he almost stops completely to catch his breath. Sneaking up on enemies is nearly impossible due to a ridiculously slow movement and your health and resources will be gone instantly if you take one or two situations too lightly.
It takes some time to get the ball rolling and upgrade important abilities to restore some sort of fluent gameplay, but even on the easiest difficulty, developer Tango Gameworks promises a good challenge. Even though this can lead to some frustrations from time to time, the mini sandbox towns in The Within 2 are filled with green gel, weapon parts and other hidden goodies to upgrade your character.
This is what makes exploring every room and house in the game so rewarding. No difficult section or side missions seems to pass without a well worth reward.
I GOT A BAD HABIT
Some of my biggest issues with the first game where the sluggish movement, paired with a camera stuck directly behind Sebastian making your aim or general orientation a challenge along the way. In a way i understand the developers choice to make the camera a claustrophobic view. Not making your main character a superhero when it comes to movement and weapon handling also fits, after all you should fear for your life at any corner and not have the safety net of wiggling your way out of situations easily.
But it always felt like it dragged down the experience artificially. Unfortunately the same problems persist in The Evil Within 2 with some minor improvements. Sneaking and stealth movement, especially behind cover isn’t fleshed out nearly enough to have fun with it. And although you can switch on auto-aim, it feels a lot like cheating, making almost every bullet a headshot. The alternative is a frustrating maunal-aim chipping away at your bullet reserves.
Luckily these problems can be ignored more and more as the story progresses and you invest your loot into the right skill trees and weapon upgrades.
As you move through the 10+ hours story, the ambitious and sometimes very memorable environments show the passion behind the project and keep the experience fresh and interesting. Almost completely white rooms contrast colorful hell realms in between the moody dark town sandboxes.
The mood is sometimes broken by some questionable dialogue choices and a forgettable support cast, but in general the game keeps the tense construct going impressively throughout.
With more freedom to explore and a skill tree that makes it as rewarding to be filled as it is desperately necessary for survival, The Evil Within 2 keeps you on your toes. While some of the tension relies on your characters inability to move like a normal human, TEW 2 still makes it work and motivates to improve and overcome its challenging difficulty. The atmospheric world and the twisted story suck you in with ease and while the franchise still has lots of room to improve, Tango Gameworks manages to deliver a unique and fun horror ride.