The Evil Within 2 is a Third-Person Action/Stealth game that once again puts us in the shoes of Sebastian Castellanos, who has understandably taken to drinking after the traumatic events of the first title. Having spent so much time trying to uncover the events of that fateful day all to no avail, those responsible that go by the name Mobius suddenly come to him as fate would have it, with the information that his daughter is alive. After some more events, Sebastian finds himself as a pawn in their experiments yet again and must survive another depth into madness in search of his daughter. This is a much more personal tale than in the last game and as such is a perfectly suited starting point for those new to the series. It will occasionally reference events of the past, though nothing of significance like the fate of the villain of the first title or anything else worth knowing.
Not only has the scope of the story changed in this sequel, in fact, you will spot quite a few differences the moment you enter the virtual world created in Stem. Perhaps the most significant is the semi-open world nature of some of the areas you will be traversing through, which opens up the opportunity to explore off the beaten path in search of loot and see events you would otherwise miss. These areas are not too big, but nearly everything in them have something worthwhile or have a reason for being there, making exploration a temptation hard to resist. Another game-changing feature is the addition of the new crafting system for everything from bullets to health items. There are many ingredients you will need for various things including nails, herbs, and most importantly gunpowder. This title is rather stingy with straight up giving you ammo. Instead, you must scavenge for said gunpowder and hope that what you’ve collected is enough to tackle any obstacle that comes your way.
Ideally, you will want to craft what you need at a bench, but if that isn’t an option and you are desperately in need of something, you can build it on the spot though, in turn, it costs far more materials. Making each bullet count forces you to play this title far more intelligently than you would otherwise, since misusing your firepower will eventually come back to haunt you. This is where the returning stealth system comes into play. It will let you immediately kill most any enemy if you manage to sneak up on them, which is easier said than done due to their erratic nature. Sometimes simply avoiding them is the best option, making willingly entering somewhere you have no business being particularly intense as you hope to find something useful instead of just unnecessary trouble. That said, you will miss a lot if you only go straight to the primary objectives, not only in terms of loot but some of the titles most frightening sections.
On occasion, you may receive a few side quests that demand different things of you, and all of them do further expand the story & setting instead of being there for filler. Not to mention the rewards are usually more than worth the trouble. The city you find yourself in called Union has dangers lurking around every corner, and it is unwise to ever let your guard down. They can pop up from under cars, cling to ceilings and at times even play dead leaving you unsure if the corpse you’re passing will suddenly attack. Your most common enemy that you will encounter are the humanoids simply known as ‘The Lost’ who are rather easy to handle on their own, but their tendency to flock to any noise, such as a gunshot, will be problematic if there are more nearby. Regardless of the enemy you face, they will not respawn if killed, so it is possible to clear them all out until a story section creates more. This is most likely due to the fact that they drop green liquid when defeated that you can then inject into your brain to upgrade your attributes be they your ability to sneak or simply to withstand more damage.
There are times when you must either fight or sneak your way around foes, you can not stick to solely one of them due to heavily scripted sections. While it does give off the vibe of being exactly like most other ‘play how you want’ sandbox games at the beginning, it does still retain the more linear sections that the original was known for, so its best to prepare accordingly. This time around, the environments you will be exploring are not a bunch of random locations, they all connect to the city/world of Union in one way or another. There is clear progress all throughout and an actual story that doesn’t feel like it was thrown together at the last minute like in the first title. It’s new villains, however, are arguably far less threatening and motivations more idiotic in comparison to Ruvik, though it does a pretty stellar job at making you want to introduce the barrel of your shotgun to their face.
I wouldn’t call the first game scary, but this one strays even further from that genre despite having far more memorable events. It is more tense due to strict ammo limitations, but in all other regards such as enemy design, boss fights, and atmosphere it is a definite step down. Seemingly everything in this sequel can be solved with fighting, gone are the moments of desperation when facing a far superior foe or insane situations where you must run for sweet life. In this you are the ultimate predator and are given a ton of options to deal with your foes like opening a water hydrant, honking the horn of a nearby car, then electrocuting the lot of them with an electric arrow. I’ve played through it on the Survival difficulty and have never been close to dying, meanwhile in its predecessor I died countless times on Easy. Don’t get me wrong, The Evil Within 2 fixed many things, but in the process, they also turned it into a far different type of game than the original.
Change isn’t all bad, while we did lose the horror aspect of it, we gained a far more structured campaign, cut out the dumb enemies that had guns and rocket launchers, and most importantly included a worthwhile story that doesn’t require further DLCs to figure out what in the world you just played. I was surprised by how invested into the story. Sebastian wasn’t exactly ever a memorable character, and they did a somewhat hamfisted job on showing us how great his daughter was right at the beginning, but I did end up caring about his plight despite all that. Its final chapters do drag on for far too long and have you facing so many foes that it nearly feels like an arena shooter, though it does end on a very high note and closes up his story nicely. Afterwards, there is a new game plus containing a new gun, costumes, and an extra hard difficulty should you want to replay it again. Doing most of the side activities, it lasted me around 18 hours, hardly what I would call a short game.
For the PC users, it is worth mentioning that performance is extremely finicky for many players, including myself, and will constantly drop frames significantly for little reason. I’d recommend trying the demo before purchasing just to test how it will run for you. Overall The Evil Within 2 is a strange sequel that differs greatly from its predecessor but ultimately ends up being a better experience. It is a ton of fun deciding whether you can waste the ammo to try to hunt down a powerful creature for the points you need to upgrade a skill or to save the gunpowder for when you really need it. The AI is still nowhere good enough to make for a decent stealth game though it is fun to stalk them and jump at the first chance to kill them. I think the word fun describes this game better than anything else. While it is a weird mish-mash of multiple genres, The Evil Within 2 was enjoyable all throughout and is well worth experiencing for both new & old fans alike.