The Evil Within 2 Review (video)

Shinji Mikami’s Tango Gameworks returns with The Evil Within 2 which follows the tale of lead protagonist Sebastian Castellanos and the mind changing Stem system which brought the horrors to life. Now his daughter is missing inside Stem and it’s up to Sebastian to go deep and retrieve her before all hell breaks loose. With a gripping third person action survival game, is The Evil Within 2 worth the purchase? Take a look at our The Evil Within 2 review for the full picture.

The Evil Within 2 Review:

Today we’re taking a look at Tango Gameworks The Evil Within 2 which follows the story of lead protagonist Sebastian Castellanos. Once again our hero is destined to enter the mind bending Stem system, but this time as a willing participant to search for his missing daughter Lily. Sidekick Agent Kidman returns who was a playable character in the first game’s downloadable content and comes across as one of the good guys. However, there is more than meets the eye as you would expect and so cue lots of blood, deranged creatures and psychopaths to sort out.

Story specifics aside, Tango has changed the format a little this time making for a far more open experience which is definitely for the better. Once the introductory pleasantries are out the way in chapter 1 and 2, chapter 3 opens up its doors and allows you to free roam the Stem fake town of Union. Sebastian is given a radio which can be used to pick up mission critical objectives but also a number of side missions and collectibles which means players can take the story at their own pace. It’s quite possible to spend several hours in chapter 3 searching for items before moving on to the first set of mission objectives which makes the game a far more compelling experience right out the gate. Whilst the first game was less open and perhaps more creepy, it was also rather unforgiving with its difficulty taking much enjoyment from seeing players die over and over. This game is a definitely a lot easier but due to being able to gather resources before moving on makes quite the difference.

Players can search for a number of weapons including various pistols, a bow with multiple arrow types, shotguns, sniper rifle and more. There is also the option to use a knife if you think you have the grit to and skill to see it through, although this approach boils down to how patient you are. A knife might sound ultra hard, and perhaps it is when faced with multiple enemies running at you, but the core gameplay design revolves around stealth which means luring lone enemies and stabbing them for an instant kill is a very effective strategy. The enemy AI isn’t massively intelligent and there are options for you to run away, come back and try again plus lots of areas to hide. In this regard patience and smart play is rewarded because ammo for weapons can be quite hard to come by if your aim isn’t very good. Sebastian can craft health items and ammo either in safe houses on in the field but the cost of doing so is quite high so effectively more is to be gained from making every shot count and using stealth first if possible. Sebastian can also upgrade weapons and be upgraded using green gel which is rewarded from the fallen. Weapons upgrades are somewhat different in that searching everywhere will net you the parts required. There are a few important areas to spend your points on but beyond the first upgrade the changes are seemingly in small increments. It’s only until you have maxed out the stats that you can feel there is a positive difference. Some areas of improvement are more useful than others as well, so careful planning is required depending on your play-style such as crouch speed or stamina increase – for running away – steady aiming.

As expected there are a number of boss encounters and a few minor puzzles thrown into the mix to keep you on your toes although these aren’t as hard to take down or solve which can be viewed as a good thing in some instances. That said and as already mentioned the first game was a lot more creepy than what is offered here. Sebastian obviously has more experience under his belt this time. The only real gripe with the gameplay is Sebastian’s clunky movement especially his running speed which doesn’t look right at all. This can be ignored but could have been improved because the complaint was made in the first game as well.

In terms of visuals, there are some neat lighting effects and functional visuals throughout, although depending on the area some locations look better than others. You will spot quite a variation of texture detail for example which in some instances can look rather poor. On PC, the game is quite a resource hog and if flipping through the various configurations on offer it’s hard to see many gains from low to highest setting. Using a GTX 1080 Ti, dropping from 4K down to 2K was the best way to play if a 60 fps minimum is required. 4K struggled to maintain much above 40 fps but was perfectly fine for 30 fps.

Audio is reasonable with a number of cutscenes showing off Sebastian and Stem operatives in action, however some of the dialogue is stupid. Sebastian in particular needs to say more things than “what the” every time something strange is discovered or he is about to chopped into pieces.

The Evil Within was a fairly lengthy game and its successor is more of the same for those who go deep. No doubt players who rush through the story will complete it fairly quickly, but taking one’s time 15-20 hours is quite reasonable (our final play time was 17 hours 25 minutes on the Survival difficulty). There are more modes unlocked once the main game is beaten and additional difficulties to try for extended play. Then there is a new game plus mode which is worth taking for spin for those looking for a more relaxed play-through. It comes complete with a magnum which evens the odds quite a bit and extra resources for your efforts.

The Evil Within 2 is an enjoyable game but is likely to divide opinion with the way it has adopted a more open approach. As a result it’s less focused than the first game, but on the other side of the coin being able to explore freely works well with the action/stealth gameplay. If you’re a fan of either of those styles then there’s much to like about this game making it worth playing, although much like Resident Evil 4 there is less emphasis on actual horror despite there being some moments which could make you jump. Mikami’s team has done it again with a respectable release, although something missing makes it fall short of overwhelming greatness.

Score 8.5/10

Written by: Robert Cram

Robert Cram has hundreds of video game reviews and thousands of articles under his belt. He aims to remain objective and fair in his analysis. With years of experience, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement is entirely optional.