Survival horror is a genre that has evolved and taken on many forms since it’s humble beginnings with games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Thankfully, Resident Evil creator, Shinji Mikami brought the genre back to its roots in 2014 with his new series The Evil Within. I can gladly say that The Evil Within 2 delivers on the thrills, challenge, and classic survival horror gameplay that the first game established. While it may not have quite as many memorable moments as the first installment, there is no denying that The Evil Within 2 is a great survival horror experience.
Have You Seen This Girl
Just three years after the first game our protagonist Sebastian finds himself running away from his past. Not only is he haunted by the events that unfolded at the Beacon mental hospital, but the death of his daughter Lily and the sudden disappearance of his wife Myra have left Sebastian’s life in shambles. That is until he runs into his former partner Kidman who reassures him that his daughter is still alive. The only catch is that Sebastian will have to re-enter S.T.E.M. and survive the new nightmare that has been conjuring inside if he ever wants to see his daughter again.
The story of The Evil Within 2 feels very reminiscent of the earlier installments of the Silent Hill series. A large focus of this game is about a Father’s journey to save his daughter. With this central focus in the game, the story is far less confusing than that of the first, but it does take away from some of the mystery that the previous game offered.
By the time the credits rolled I did feel satisfied, as the climax is far more emotional and heartwarming than you might expect from a survival horror game. But don’t let that fool you as The Evil Within 2 is in no way like an Uncharted or The Last of Us. The voice acting is very campy as lines are delivered in a way that evokes that charm of the older survival horror games.
The game is strangely split in what feels like two different stories. The first half will have you searching for a deranged serial killer turning his victims into art. While this part of the game does feature some highlight moments as far as scares, it does feel a bit disconnected from the game’s latter half which moves at a much brisker pace.
The Evil Within 2 certainly wears its influences on its sleeve. The combat feels almost identical to that of the Resident Evil series as it is a third-person shooter that features a very scant amount of resources. You will be collecting herbs for crafting into health syringes, parts for upgrading weapons, and gunpowder to craft ammo. However, it can’t be emphasized enough just how few resources there are in the game. It will require the proper balance of stealth kills and perfect aim to dispose of enemies, otherwise, you could have no option but to run for your life or fight a boss with a knife.
The game can be brutally difficult at times, but no challenge ever felt completely out of reach. In fact, some of the games best moments were when I finally defeated that boss with only one bullet left and barely enough health to keep me alive. It’s terrifying and really helps add to the suspense of any foe slowly stalking you around a tight corner.
Where The Evil Within 2 managed to lose some of my interest was in the addition of it’s larger open areas this time around. The city of Union is awfully similar to Silent Hill and while it was fun to explore these areas and find hidden secrets it also managed to bring the game to a grinding halt. Most of these areas are featured in the early game when Sebastian is far too underpowered, so coming in contact with any enemies can prove to be quite the challenge. This ultimately led to me slowly sneaking from one side of the map to the other praying that I never alerted any of the bigger enemies in the area. While it did help add to the horror of the game it ultimately led to me taking the shortest routes possible in order to get to the next story mission.
Also, the boss fights this time around were not quite as memorable as the first game. Fighting a mutant with a flamethrower was not nearly as terrifying as the Keepers in the Beacon mental hospital, and the fact that one of the games boss fights was literally a boss rush of mini-bosses from the first game only helped further solidify that. However, some exploring can lead you to some of the optional hidden challenges which were quite rewarding whenever I did come across one. But it still didn’t quite make up for the lack of the game of boss encounters overall.
The Science Of Fear
Hands down the best part of The Evil Within 2 is its atmosphere and creature design. From the giant Buzzsaw creature that chases you throughout the games early chapters to the morbidly dark art gallery of the serial killer Stefano, there are plenty of unsettling moments in The Evil Within 2. As someone who is rarely scared by video games, I would often find myself dreading walking down a terrifying hallway with only a flashlight to see the horrors that awaited me.
Surprisingly the game relies less on jump scares and instead focuses on the subtle things that really unnerve the player. From the incredible score of the game that always built tension at just the right moments, to seeing an enemy scurry past a door off in the distance as if it wasn’t intended for the player to even notice. Small touches like this helped create a far more terrifying experience than any amount of jump scares ever could.
The setting is also a major factor in the fear as just like the first game it all takes place inside the mind. This means rooms can change as soon as you turn around, hallways can turn into blood-filled lakes full of crumbled buildings, and pictures can reveal windows into the past or even suck you in to experience the nightmares that lie inside. No matter where you are in The Evil Within 2, nowhere feels safe.
Surviving The Horror
While The Evil Within 2 never quite lives up to the heights that the first game achieved, it is still a great survival horror experience. With an incredible atmosphere and some nostalgic vibes of the genre’s past, it would be hard not to recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of the survival horror genre. While the campy acting and the slower paced open areas might not be for everyone, there is still so much that The Evil Within 2 manages to get right. Whether it’s managing your resources for the next big fight or running for your life from an unstoppable force, The Evil Within 2 is definitely one of the best survival horror games you could play this year.