The music is superb, while the sound design on the whole is excellent. The voice acting is a little patchy, however, with some fairly hammy performances.
Not as visually arresting as the first game, The Evil Within 2 also suffers from occasional frame rate drops and texture pop-in on Xbox One. Still, the game does manage to muster some memorable, nightmarish sights.
Gunplay and stealth mechanics are hard to get to grips with, and only really seem to work properly once you start to upgrade your weapons and Sebastian's abilities. Consequently, boss battles can be frustrating.
Easily a 10-15 hour game if you go off the beaten path, The Evil Within 2 has its niggles, like unskippable cut-scenes at certain checkpoint junctures and some sequences that will unintentionally drive you to distraction. New Game Plus adds plenty of extra hours.
A strong list that rewards story progression alongside completing a range of varied tasks, from upgrading certain weapons and performing certain combat feats. Completing Classic Mode (basically AKUMU Mode again) will prove to be a challenge.
October 13, 2017
Say what you like about The Evil Within; but it had some pretty memorable, nightmarish creatures stalking its filth-encrusted environments. The Evil Within 2 is similarly packed with bubbly flesh mounds, but none are quite as unforgettable as say, The Keeper (that big fella with a safe for a head) or that nasty spider lady thing that looks like Sadako from Ringu with a few too many limbs. The same can be said for the game and its narrative as a whole. It never quite has the impact that the first game had, and fails to really muster much in the way of genuine terror.
Returning as grizzled former cop Sebastian Castellanos, haunted by a terrible event from his past, you're sent back into STEM (the weird simulated world from the previous game; a sort of horror Matrix) to locate your daughter. It should be a simple job: get in, find little Lily and get the 'eff out of Dodge. Of course, things aren't all that they seem in the small town of Union, a sleepy locale built to keep the inhabitants happy and comfortable during their stay inside STEM. In fact, everything is decidedly messed up, as our Seb quickly finds out.
Things can get dark, literally and metaphorically.
Once you hit Chapter 3, it's more than evident that the situation in Union is just like the first game's Beacon incident all over again, albeit with a few more open environments with extended side missions, all connected by subterranean corridors and computer terminals located in 'The Marrow'. There are fallen Mobius operatives who were sent in to sort things out to locate via your trusty radio communicator too, found by following different Resonance signals. In fact, TEW 2 features numerous missions that you could quite easily miss should you choose to steamroll your way through the story, and it's these side quests that provide some of The Evil Within 2's most compelling moments. Not that the story itself doesn't have its highlights.
There are clear Silent Hill and Twin Peaks inspirations running through The Evil Within 2 like a stick of rock, resulting in some fairly striking imagery that even includes red curtains and distinctive black and white flooring. The Evil Within 2 succeeds more in being disturbing rather than scream-inducingly scary, although Tango Gameworks' refusal to rely on cheap jump scares is admirable, the game dealing more in strange and surreal weirdness over ghost train-style 'boo!' moments. And there's more than a fair share of horribly contorted, amorphous beasts you'll run into during your stay inside STEM.
Not only are there lumpen monsters with anger issues stalking the streets of Union, but a number of human antagonists also threaten to ruin your day, like twisted photographer Stefano Valentini, overzealous evangelist Father Theodore and a mysterious masked psychopath with a flamethrower. Boss battles ensue and deadly games of cat and mouse play out across The Evil Within 2's 10 hour-odd story, but it's all slightly annoying when it comes to actually playing. Every aspect of the game isn't quite up to scratch, whether it's the loose gunplay or the rubbish stealth mechanics, there's always something that'll get your back up.
That is until you realise that Castellanos is actually missing some fundamental abilities in his arsenal, all of which can be purchased using green gel in the returning mirror realm of Sebastian's office. Things that you'd normally take for granted like being able to sprint for more than five seconds without wheezing to death or ambushing enemies from cover, are all locked away in Sebastian's skill tree, meaning you need to save up your green gel to unlock them. It'd stand to reason that an ex-cop like Seb might have some degree of marksmanship under his belt or even a modicum of athleticism, but apparently not. Upgrading stamina and health, as well as Seb's combat and stealth prowess, really does make all the difference.
I understand that part of the experience involves levelling up and upgrading your character, but it doesn't make sense that the level of Sebastian's base abilities would be so low. It makes early enemy encounters a real grind, and some sections that hurl far too many foes at you all at once will have you tearing your hair out. Some boss battles can be a pain too, rinsing all of your hard-earned ammunition and health syringes in the process. Fortunately, amassing gunpowder and other scavenged odds and sods means you can always craft more ammo, while grabbing herbs enables you to craft more health items too.
Detective Castellanos, hot on the trail.
While resource management is a staple of the survival horror genre, you'll seldom find yourself desperately scraping around for ammunition or health (unless you plump for the insane Nightmare difficulty level). If you don't have access to a workbench for crafting, you can always make items out in the field, but it'll cost more of your precious resources. Besides, you'll probably expend the majority of your items battling the game's frustrating bosses, one of which has several glowing weak spots to shoot, of course. Despite its annoyances and niggles (especially early on), The Evil Within 2 does hit its stride as things wear on (and regular autosaves prove invaluable), the narrative picking up in pace as you limp your way to the end and the obligatory showdown with a gigantic boss.
The Evil Within 2 has its problems, but there's plenty to recommend here too, whether it's the chilling encounters with a soul-sucking spirit or the occasionally daft B-movie dialogue, and the open areas lend themselves to exploration and interesting side content. Yet its the game's problems that stuck with me; primarily the shoddy combat and poor stealth mechanics, leaving a big old blot on what could have been a fantastic sequel. As it is, The Evil Within 2 is a solid if slightly unremarkable, flawed sequel that fans of the first game will no doubt enjoy, while newcomers might feel out of their depth.