The follow up to the hugely successful The Evil Within from Bethesda game studios saw a massive cult following after critical and financial success, and even a maze made at Warner Bros. Movie World themed around it! I spent a grand total of 20 hours in the world of Evil Within 2 and when I finished I was exasperated. The game is challenging, entertaining, violent and shockingly disturbing to the point that I had to stop playing a few times to rest my psyche from what I had just witnessed. It is rare that a game affects me like this and after hours of brutally difficult gameplay and detailed and gory graphics I was left completely exhausted and satisfied that Bethesda has delivered another solid title and a worthy successor to the original.
The games protagonist Sebastian Castellanos is severely battered and still shell shocked from the events of the first game. We meet up with him again in a bar drowning his sorrows on a bar when he is approached by Juli Kidman and her goons inform the obviously grieving man that his thought to be dead daughter Lily is still alive and they need his help to rescue her and their trapped agents in their Matrix/Avatar like system called STEM. Castellanos is thrust into this world with high emotional stakes that make this effort stand out from the previous installment, with a rather bland mix of supporting characters, this allows the weird and surprisingly twisted environment to stand out as a character in its own right and elevate both the environment and the gameplay.
The first half of the game is open world, you are given full ability to explore every house, every blade of grass for items to customise your weapons (and trust me, you will want to do this!) That being said while exploration is a lot of fun, it is also exceedingly dangerous. The Lost (the horrible zombie like creatures) roam the streets, hide in houses and generally are just lurking around most corners waiting for you to walk noisily and charge attack you. This game will build your confidence up in exploration mode only to have a massive Lost creature dragging a fallen soldier behind him, hear you inside a house, barge in and attack you and then having to repeat the whole thing again to find there wasn’t anything interesting inside the house anyway. It sounds annoying but it works, it offers up something different in this game and it is the part the I enjoyed the most.
That being said ammo is scarce in this game, and usually scarce ammo games really just piss me right off, yet for some reason this game made it acceptable. Other items like the extremely useful handaxe will be an item that will save your life. The best move to use is decapitation which delivers a swift death to the Lost if you can manage to do it quickly. Running into a group of enemies is probably the worst thing you can do in this game, in other similar titles you can easily shoot or melee your way out, not in this one. I quickly learned that distraction and sneaking is the best way to push forward, particularly in chapter 3 when you have no other choice but to do so. It can be a grueling and painful process but the rewards and satisfaction when you do are worth it.
The world remains weird and screwed up with portals to other places through mirrors, a mysterious black cat who stays in your safehouse gives you an weird oozing slime that helps you upgrade your abilities, a nurse who helps the upgrade through a chair restraint and headcap, you get the feeling any any point the game can change the rules and flip everything around on you, and it does. While you are encouraged to explore, the claustrophobic and extremely dark hallways tease either an enemy or some sweet loot hiding in the corner, it always provides a jump scare and adds to tone of the game. I haven’t been this disturbed by a game since the first Outlast game and while it terrifies me, I can’t want to get stuck back in for the + mode (not to mention all the dazzling t-shirts you can mod your character with when you jump back in!)
After the game gets off to a slow start the action and gore increases as it thrusts toward its gory and glorifying finish. The change of pace really helped me stick with the game as it offered a point of difference with the first couple of chapters. Enemies and boss battles along with a depleting amount of ammo and resources force you into full on horror game survival mode and are a great lesson in patience and persistence. This mixed in with the incredible sounds and hauntingly chilling music combine with the heart stopping, adrenaline filled action sequences that make this game a solid survival horror entry and one of my favourite games of this year.
The Evil Within 2 delivers a surprisingly addictive game that incorporates the best horror elements of a game with an engaging story and terrifying boss battles that will haunt you long after you have logged off (I even came face to face with the scariest one at Fright Night at Movie World this year! They have a whole freaking precinct full of them!) Making the opening chapters open world and allowing exploration and a change of pace halfway through the game was a massive win for the series as it takes us through different paces like a good horror movie does. The graphical upgrade from the last game is astounding and the blood and gore effects on both victims and monsters were everything that the audience for this game wants.
The Evil Within 2 is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC. If you are on the Gold Coast, Warner Bros. Movie World has a Evil Within 2 precinct at their Fright Nights event and is well worth checking out! You can look at dates and buy tickets here
Look out for my video review coming out in the following days.
Review by Alaisdair Leith