(PlayStation 4 version reviewed)
The Fun Within
The first Evil Within game was a fun survival horror game that was rough around the edges. It had the look of a survival horror game; it had the unsettling atmosphere and nightmarish enemies but it had a story that whilst interesting, was convoluted. However the first instalments biggest flaw was its performance. The game had a weird resolution output and had an inconsistent frame rate. Does The Evil Within 2 improve upon its predecessor? Yes it does and the performance is much better this time around.
Let’s start off with the performance which is a massive improvement of the first game. The Evil Within 2 runs at 1080p and 30fps on PS4 and throughout my time playing it, I did not come across any noticeable dips in the frame rate. The frame rate is a consistent 30fps during gameplay which couldn’t be said of the first game. Props to developer Tango Gameworks for improving upon the previous title’s biggest flaw.
Graphically the game is good, it’s nice to look at even during its gory and violent moments. Sure, the game is no Uncharted 4 but the graphics hold up well. The character models are detailed well, the main protagonist Sebastian looks a lot better and the developer hasn’t skimmed on the detail for the antagonists and support cast either. The environments you come across in The Evil Within 2 look great and each one looks different to the other. Each location looks scary and weird and they give you a sense of fear and trepidation.
Stories in horror games aren’t known for being brilliant and well-written, The Evil Within 2 however has a compelling tale that gets you hooked right from the start. The game is set 3 years after the events of the first game, Sebastian is no longer a detective and is drowning in his sorrows. Along comes Kidman, Sebastian’s former partner, who tells him that his daughter who he thought was dead is in fact still alive. Sebastian wants to rescue his daughter but there is a catch, Sebastian has to go into the same kind of machine from the first game, a machine that makes nightmares a reality. So once again Sebastian has confront his fears and make his way through an unrelenting, hellish world.
The first game’s story was mysterious and intriguing but convoluted and took a little while to get you invested. The Evil Within 2 has fixed the problems with predecessor’s storytelling and as mentioned before is compelling and gets you hooked from the beginning. The near constant state of confusion is gone and we are rewarded with a story worth experiencing. The characters are developed really well. Sebastian is a lot more interesting time around and I genuinely felt for the man throughout the story. The support cast are strong, they help Sebastian when things go to pot. However the villains are developed beautifully. The first villain you come across is an artist whose art is the beauty of murder. Now that might sound grim but it is done very well, stylishly too. The antagonists will leave a lasting impression on you, you’ll definitely remember them.
The story is really good, I can’t stress that enough. You don’t need to have played the first game to understand it which is good but for those who have played the first game and its DLC’s, the experience is much more rewarding.
The enemy design is fantastic, disturbing and horrific they look like they have come from the depths of hell. You wouldn’t want to meet them in a dark alley that’s for sure. It’s a shame though that the awesome enemy design isn’t matched with awesome A.I. The A.I in The Evil Within 2 isn’t brilliant and it’s very easy to outwit them. Stealth isn’t brilliant but the A.I sometimes make it laughably easy to do, especially when you get the silenced pistol. Once you acquire the silenced firearm a simple shot at an enemy in the back will cause the enemy to turn around and head towards you. Then you simply wait and stealth kill him. It’s weird because the A.I. for the bosses is a different story, they’re not perfect but they’re not as bad as the normal enemies.
The RPG elements have been upgraded a lot since the first game, there’s a definite feel of character progression here. You can upgrade Sebastian to make him more powerful and tougher to kill but by no means will you be a one man wrecking crew. I played on Survival difficulty and by the time I completed the game I had about 80% of Sebastian’s upgrades and whilst things were easier, by no means was I overpowered. Sebastian’s health, stamina stealth, abilities and more can be upgraded. You can also upgrade all the weapons you obtain. Weapons aren’t individually upgraded. There are weapon categories, those are upgraded rather than the individual weapons. This makes things easier and less time-consuming, it also gives the weapons that you receive late game some purpose. You can craft health items and ammo for you weapons, these obviously require resources which you can find in the world. Resources are scarce so you have to ration what you have.
The overall gameplay is much better this time around, the gun controls are tight and everything apart from stealth feels smoother. If you played the first game then the controls here will be a dream. The stealth whilst still possible and essential still remains a bit fiddly. Sebastian can hide behind cover and in bushes however, you can no longer hide under the bed or in lockers. I know why these have been removed, that’s because of how much more open the game is. However you do come across these things in the game and it feels weird for the mechanics not to be there when they were in the first game.
The story is one of the best things in The Evil Within 2, one of the others is the open world. The previous game was a linear experience and didn’t feature many open environments. There are still some linear areas but the world is much more open and this could generate a problem, destroying the horror vibe. It’s much easier to do horror in a contained, linear experience. Do not worry as the horror factor has not weakened in fact I’d say it’s more frightening. I was walking around the map and then all of a sudden an enemy burst out of a house and charged at me. You could be focused on taking on monster down with stealth only for one to come up behind you. After I while the open world felt like Resident Evil meets Silent Hill and I’m not complaining.
One thing I did not expect in The Evil Within 2 were side missions, they make sense given the open world but they are a welcome addition. However I do have one gripe here, I wish that there were more side missions. The missions gave you a reason to explore the open world and they are fun to do. I also wish that there was more to do in the open world aside from collecting ammo pouch upgrades and other collectables. What is on offer is good but I wanted more to do because the world was horrifying and interesting. However this I believe is a step in the right direction for the series and Tango Gameworks should be commended.
The Evil Within 2 is fantastic game and a huge improvement over the first. I loved every moment I had with the game and whilst it may not be perfect, it is a game that I would love to play again. The game like the first has its flaws but they are more tolerable this time around and are forgivable. The open world and the atmosphere it creates is brilliant. However the story here takes the crown it’s enjoyable, engrossing and it makes Sebastian an interesting character whom I actually felt genuine emotion for.
I enjoyed the first game but I wouldn’t have been bothered if it didn’t get a sequel now, I’m glad it did. After playing The Evil Within 2 I want the series to continue, I want to see how the series evolves. The Evil Within is also ‘The Fun Within’.
(I played The Evil Within 2 for about 20 hours. I completed the game on Survival difficulty and dabbled with New Game Plus and Nightmare difficulty.)
I purchased my copy of The Evil Within 2 at retail.
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