Review: The Evil Within 2

It occurred to me the other day after I completed The Evil Within 2 that my victory felt a little bit empty. It wasn’t anything to do with the overall quality of the game, so I was initially baffled about why I felt this way. After a few minutes of pondering I figured out the answer, and I think I felt a bit hollow because I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about my experience. After doing a videogame podcast for 5 years you get used to talking about games, so to not have that outlet anymore leaves a bit of a hole in your life. I know I can talk about videogames on the 60 Minutes With monthly entertainment shows, but by the time that comes around I’ll have lost the impetus. Anyway, this whole paragraph is my way of saying that when I complete a game I’ll write a review to inform you dear reader about my thoughts. I thought I’d best explain this as you may be wondering “why is he writing a review of a game that was released in October 2017?”

The Evil Within 2 is the sequel to the fairly successful original which was released in 2014. Although I enjoyed the first game, there were some problems including the strange inclusion of “cinematic” borders at the top and bottom of the screen. This didn’t really help to provide the game with a movie-like quality but it did make me squint a little bit more than I normally would! In all honesty I didn’t expect a sequel but was quite happy when the news was announced of its arrival last year.

Renowned developer Shinji Mikami oversaw production of The Evil Within 1 & 2 and I have long been a fan of his work. Mikami has made or helped to make some absolutely classic games and is widely known as being the creator of Resident Evil 1 & 4. The DNA of those games, along with his creativity is clear to be seen in The Evil Within 1 & 2.

In the second game you once again play the role of former police officer Sebastian Castellanos who is haunted by the disappearance of his wife and supposed death of his daughter. Sebastian spends his time at the bottom of a bottle trying to forget the past when a former colleague offers him the chance to make things right. The story takes a number of twists and turns and to be completely honest I lost interest in who was doing what to whom but, there is a compelling narrative in its simplest form of a father looking for his daughter and it’s that which kept me interested.

The Evil Within 2 is a third person survival horror game where the setting, story and tone reminded me heavily of Silent Hill 1 & 2. I was a big fan of those games and I really appreciated their influence on The Evil Within 2, whether it was done on purpose or not.

Although the game has a third person perspective similar to Gears of War, don’t expect to be gung-ho with guns blazing as ammunition and resources are scarce. This adds to the overall tension as you must rely on your wits and stealth to stay alive. Enemies have three alert phases and react if they see or hear you running around. To aid you there is a cover mechanic that works well enough and I found it quite satisfying stalking my prey then knifing them in the back of the head when they weren’t looking. The combat in general is fine and the variety of weapons at your disposal helped to keep things interesting.

Ammo can be created from finding bits and pieces lying on the ground and each of the weapons can be upgraded to make your life a little easier. Sebastian himself can also be upgraded with certain skills or generally made better at combat or stealth. Even on rookie difficulty I still found that I could be killed quite easily especially if surrounded by a number of enemies.

I was playing the game on an Xbox One X and graphically it does look very nice and is a clear upgrade on the original. The town and environments are very polished and there are a variety of different monsters to keep you on your toes.

If I have any gripes I found that the camera felt a little bit too close to Sebastian at times which meant that it was tricky to quickly aim at enemies. I did get used to it eventually and I believe that you can now adjust the field of view, plus a new first-person mode has been patched into the game. I very briefly tried this and it is amazing how changing the viewpoint of the character had an effect on the game.

To sum up if I’m being brutally honest, The Evil Within 2 isn’t a particularly remarkable game. Although I’ve described it as survival horror, it isn’t overly horrific or scary compared to a similar type of game such as Dead Space. It lacks originality and the game mechanics are ok rather than fantastic, and yet despite these criticisms I was completely hooked and really enjoying my 20 hours playthrough. I would recommend you give The Evil Within 2 a shot, especially if you are a fan of the original as it greatly improves on it in a number of ways.

The Evil Within 2 is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With)