The evil within 2 review


Effective horror usually requires a highly directed experience — careful directorial control over each plot beat khổng lồ keep the tension building, a hand guiding the camera to make sure you see whatever horrific creature lurches behind the protagonist. The Evil Within 2 turns this genre necessity on its head, allowing you lớn explore at your own pace but, as if by magic, without lessening the pressure necessary for horror to be scary.

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2014’s The Evil Within wasn’t nearly this ambitious. Despite work from major names such as Resident Evil mastermind Shinji Mikami, that debut effort from developer Tango Gameworks was somewhat disappointing. Though it had a great setting, it had no sense of pacing, an abundance of frustrating quái vật fights and boring writing that made it hard to lớn care about the characters.

I’m currently eight hours into The Evil Within 2, và what’s most impressive so far is how this sequel addresses each individual complaint about the first trò chơi one by one, like it’s working through a checklist. Và it does all of this on top of greatly expanding in scope & freedom.

The Evil Within 2 greatly expands the scope and freedom of the first game

October 12, 2017 - The First Eight Hours

If you skipped out on The Evil Within, don’t worry. The sequel continues the story of hard-luck now-ex-cop Sebastian Castellanos, but it doesn’t require a knowledge of the original so much as a willingness to lớn give in to the game’s off-the-rails narrative. Three years after the first game’s murder investigation gone wrong, Castellanos is forcibly recruited by a mysterious organization called Mobius và thrust back into the “STEM” world, an alternate reality where (once again) people have begun turning into monsters that exist on the body horror continuum between the works of Raimi và Cronenberg.

While the gruff Castellanos is no more of an engaging character than last time around, he at least has a more personal motivation. His daughter Lily, who he believed died in a tragic fire years ago, is alive & trapped in the STEM world as well. It’s a small and cliché addition, but those added stakes bởi wonders for The Evil Within 2, providing some real momentum và a reason for Castellanos và the player to lớn keep pushing forward.

Union feels lượt thích a real, recognizable, lived-in place

By leaping directly into the STEM world, The Evil Within 2 is also able khổng lồ immediately embrace one of the best aspects of the first game: how completely batshit weird it got in its later segments. The sequel finds Castellanos jumping between odd locales right from the start. One second he’s in a strange, slow-motion killer’s ornate art gallery, & the next he’s walking through a warped flashback of Beacon Mental Hospital, the setting of the last game. The Evil Within 2 waits for the precise moment I have my bearings in a location, then rips the rug of reality out from underneath me.

Most of my first eight hours with The Evil Within 2 has been set in a sleepy đô thị called Union. It was built by Mobius lớn be the ideal alternate reality utopia, và Castellanos calls it “any town, USA.” That sort of broad evocativeness works in the game’s favor, creating much more of a sense of place than the first trò chơi ever accomplished. Tacky art hangs on walls, neon signs flicker above small-town shops, và mundane junk litters closets và office desks. Union may be a fake alternate reality where you can travel through computers to lớn get from location to lớn location, but Tango Gameworks puts in the effort khổng lồ make it feel like a real, recognizable, lived-in place — albeit one that has sunk into devastation & terror.

Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks
Beyond just being a more interesting setting, Union introduces one of the biggest departures The Evil Within 2 takes from its predecessor: large, xuất hiện locations. You can spend hours exploring every inch of Union, và the game rewards that thoroughness with more of the limited resources Castellanos needs to survive. I scoured the tự động shops, visitor’s centers & abandoned train yards at length, digging up ammunition and crafting material. The đô thị is intricately designed & peppered with gifts all over in a way that really encourages taking your time.

Naturally, with a bigger area to lớn explore come side objectives as well. The Evil Within 2 lets you find optional quests by pinpointing stray frequencies with a “communicator,” a sort of walkie-talkie that Castellanos carries with him. These extra tasks range from mundane resource drops — you’ll find many Mobius soldier corpses with a lot of ammo & pouches that increase your carrying capacity — to lớn completely new areas và fully fleshed-out subplots. You never know what you’ll find by following a stray signal, which makes me want khổng lồ hunt all of them down.

I’m astounded by the way that The Evil Within 2 takes light “open-world” game play and makes it work within a horror context. I’m used lớn horror games being strictly linear; sure, the first Evil Within had a few large rooms to mess around và try different combat strategies in, but there was always a single path forward, keeping the the pace in step. Here in Union, you can go in any direction you want, và yet the pacing doesn’t suffer.

Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks
I’m still not sure how Tango Gameworks accomplishes this, but even as I’ve run up và down the same street for the sixth time, it keeps throwing surprises at me. On my initial pass, I’ll clear a garden full of enemies. The next time through, a new one has spawned in a just-hidden-enough location to lớn make me jump with surprise. Or I’ll run past a house I’ve already rummaged through, but I’ll hear a woman screaming, pulling me back khổng lồ find something new and shocking.

I don’t know if The Evil Within 2 will be able to lớn work this magic right up until the credits — which seem a lot further off than they did in the first game — but for now, I’m extremely impressed. The game just keeps tossing everything it has at me, & every time I think I’ve seen it all, it gives me some unique revelation, some dreadful apparition I’ve yet to encounter. That push and pull, between wanting to lớn see what the game has in store next và being terrified to lớn find out — that delightful feeling is why I play horror games, and so far this one is nailing it.

Update: October 18, 2017 — The finished game & score

As I worked through the back half of The Evil Within 2 last weekend, one question kept repeating over & over again in my head: How? How did they pull this off? How does it work so well?

The answer, as best I can discern it, is pacing. The previous The Evil Within struggled with this, jumping from scene to scene with no regard for letting the player breathe và spacing out reveals and building tension slowly. It was non-stop; it was exhausting.

The Evil Within 2 is a night-and-day difference from that muddled mess. It is, hands-down, one of the best-paced horror/action games I’ve played in years.

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Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks The deeper I got into The Evil Within 2, the more it became clear precisely what the trò chơi benefits from with its handful of larger open areas. It’s not about creating a huge open world that you can get lost in for ages. Rather, these bigger zones — three in total throughout the game — serve as a tool of pacing.

It’s not that these wider open spaces are safe, exactly. They have plenty of enemies and increasingly dangerous threats as the trò chơi progresses. But those enemies are also more spread out, & the trò chơi generally is pulling less tricks related to lớn the very state of your mental being while you’re in those levels. Where the linear sections of The Evil Within 2 are more intense, these bigger areas focus more on exploration, on taking your time lớn explore và carefully chart your path around or through gatherings of enemies.

These bits wouldn’t be as effective as they are if the resources in The Evil Within 2 weren’t so finely tuned. I made use of nearly every thành tích I picked up throughout the whole of my 20-some hours in the game — every bullet, every medkit and especially every chiến thắng that allowed me to improve my guns và abilities.

Beyond ammo and healing items, Sebastian also collects “weapon parts” và some weird green gel that drops from fallen enemies. The former is used to lớn upgrade your guns, giving them more damage, more ammo capacity, faster reloads và so on; the latter upgrades Sebastian himself, with abilities ranging from the obvious (more health & stamina) khổng lồ the game-changing (the ability khổng lồ slow down time when aiming your weapons). These dual upgrade systems feel both well-developed and weighty. Choosing whether to spread my weapon parts around khổng lồ different guns or focus them all into making my pistol a non-stop death machine, for example, had a major lasting impact on how I played the game, as did whether I centered Sebastian on combat or stealth upgrades.

The only part of The Evil Within 2 that doesn’t feel perfectly, tightly bound together is the crafting system. Crafting is essential in the trò chơi as a means of pulling together just a little more survival potential. Inevitably, though, I spent most of my gunpowder on the cheapest và most plentiful possible item: pistol bullets. Sometimes I would splurge on some shotgun shells or flamethrower ammo — especially right before a big trùm cuối encounter — but more often than not, I wanted the most bang for my buck, so to lớn speak.

Image: Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks
In particular, The Evil Within 2 seems khổng lồ want you to craft lots of ammo for the crossbow, but I very rarely found that weapon worth using. As such, I ended the game with dozens of metal pipes & nails in my inventory. Your inventory is unlimited as far as carrying crafting components goes, so it’s not the worst fate in the world, but it stood out in a game where everything else seems so perfectly designed.

When you’re not searching for materials in the more xuất hiện areas, The Evil Within 2 pushes you into more linear, directed sequences that move the story forward. These are where you’ll find the scariest và most pulse-pounding moments of the game, and also where you’ll fight its bosses.

I want to call out the trùm cuối fights specifically, because these were another major failing of the first game. In The Evil Within, boss khủng battles were a frustrating affair where you were provided with little sense of if you were doing real damage khổng lồ an enemy or what the best method was to lớn kill it. In the sequel, quái vật fights are a blast.

Both in terms of showing players that the boss khủng is being properly injured and just visualizing elements of the environment better, The Evil Within 2 makes it really clear how khổng lồ fight a quái vật without the need khổng lồ die và restart over và over. One fight against a chainsaw-wielding monster has traps & explosive barrels mix up around the environment. In another clever battle, your goal is simply khổng lồ keep the unstoppable bad guy busy while a clock runs down.

There’s even a surprising trùm cuối rush that is, somehow, not awful lớn play.

Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks
That boss khủng rush serves as a lead-in to lớn the final act of The Evil Within 2, & what a final act it is. If the trò chơi as a whole is an example of how to lớn get pacing right in clip games, the last few hours demonstrate the absolute ideal approach to lớn a conclusion — the rising action, climax & denouement each applied with skill and care.

The Evil Within 2 pulls off an ending that had me buzzing with excitement, despite it not even being a particularly good story. I won’t spoil anything here, of course, but Sebastian’s search for redemption remains pretty goofy và corny throughout. Tango Gameworks embraces that cheese, however, leaning into it và continuously raising the stakes in the finale until I couldn’t help but be drawn in. It’s just silly, dumb fun, & I loved every second of it.


The same could be said for the trò chơi itself, honestly. The Evil Within 2 represents one of the starkest và most astounding turnarounds from a debut title khổng lồ its sequel that I’ve ever witnessed. It’s a brilliant horror game, one that understands when khổng lồ ratchet up tension và when to pull back & let you collect yourself. If the first trò chơi was a failed attempt to capture the spirit of Shinji Mikami’s classic Resident Evil 4, the sequel is a successful attempt at something much better: finding a chilling, exhilarating voice of its own.

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The Evil Within was reviewed using an early final “retail” Steam tải về code provided by Bethesda. You can find additional information about’s ethics policy here.

Platform Win, PS4, Xbox One publisher Bethesda Softworks Release Date Oct 13, 2017 Win Score 9 Developer Tango Gameworks