Sebastian Castellanos has returned but gone is the word of Beacon and instead, he must enter the world of Union. While the first game was a massive but linear adventure filled with horrible terrors and a more scary vibe, it was also an inconsistent and frustrating mess. The sequel discards the linear and scare-riddled vibe for a much more cohesive and psychologically charged game and the result is an excellently-paced thriller that is a joy to play from the first moment to the last.
The story and plot of The Evil Within 2 feels better structured than the first with better voice acting but it still doesn’t sound excellent. The writing can sometimes go from feeling like trying to capture that B-movie magic to downright awkward and dull. Sebastian feels more grounded than the original but still lacks any real personality.
Still reeling from the guilt of losing his family, Sebastian is made aware that his daughter Lily is still alive but he must re-enter STEM in order to save her. This is the driving force behind Sebastian going through everything again and its enough of a vehicle to make his adventures believable.
The game definitely feels like its broken into two half with the first half being filled with mystery and intrigue that culminates in disappointing encounters. It, however, allows you to explore semi-open world areas that shine and in a lot of ways encompasses the best The Evil Within 2 has to offer while the second half is a heart-pounding thrill-ride that’s incredibly hard to put down. Despite stylistically looking very different, the tone doesn’t waver and is consistently brilliant throughout, feeling like one of the best-paced horror games in years.
One of the biggest changes that is evident from the beginning is once you drop into Union and you are met with small open areas to explore. Gone is the consistent long corridors and monster rooms and instead you are left to go wherever you want in the area. While this approach may take away the immediate horror, the surprises that can be found are never dull and worth the rewards for risking your vital resources early on.
The Evil Within 2 features a crafting and resource management system that doesn’t make you feel overpowered should you spend a lot of time finding things in every nook and cranny of Union due to the lower allowed ammo early on so for the first half of the game, this becomes a real risk-reward system of trying to get back to a safe house to craft the ammo or do it in the field and spend twice the amount of resources. The resource gather also doesn’t overtake the core gameplay and feels like it is required just enough as you explore and fight.
The world is unpredictable and the visual style represents that as the world literally falls apart at moments while blood spews, monsters morph in front of you, and disgusting horrors await you in the next area. Every time I was met with a new corridor, I was never quite sure what the next area would look like, or what would be waiting for me once I got there. It keeps things feels tense and exhilarating.
That exhilaration continues to the combat itself. The Evil Within 2 possesses much more viable variety with a revamped and improved stealth progression meaning trying to hide and move past enemies without being detected feels rewarding and tense. However, you will spend a lot of time fighting enemies. Early on, the way enemies sway and turn makes lining up a headshot difficult and led to a few frustrating moments. However, as you can improve Sebastian’s skills, you can have a steadier aim. Couple that with learning and gauging enemy movements, lining and leading headshots become more manageable.
In 1-on-1 encounters, every enemy feels beatable. However, have a couple run at you at the same time and they can feel relentless, never letting up until your health meter is completely depleted. These moments slowly go away over time as your skills improve and firepower grows.
The Evil Within 2 is a lengthy adventure, clocking in at over 15 hours. When it was all said and done, I felt exhausted, mentally drained from the world The Evil Within 2 projects. With Sebastian, I had been on a horrifying adventure, filled with tension, and heart-stopping moments. It truly respects horror and what makes horror great without falling down the trap of jump-scares or trying to be overly-grotesque or scary. It’s excellent pace always projected me further at the right time while also allowing me to soak in the atmosphere and world of Union, breathing in the horrors The Evil Within 2 creates. It’s an excellent horror game and one that I will be thinking about and be praising for many moons to come.