“Three years after the events at Beacon Mental Hospital, Sebastian Castellanos has left the Krimson City Police Department to uncover the truth about the mysterious organization Mobius but continues to be haunted by his experiences at Beacon, the disappearance of his wife Myra, and the death of his daughter Lily in a house fire. Sebastian is then approached by former partner and Mobius agent Juli Kidman, who reveals to him that Lily is still alive. Sebastian is then brought to a secret Mobius facility against his will where he meets the Administrator, who further explains that Lily is being used as the Core for a new STEM system to simulate an idyllic town called Union. However, Mobius lost contact with Lily and their agents inside Union, Sebastian reluctantly agrees to help Mobius so that he has a chance to save Lily and enters the STEM.”
All of the classic elements that made the original Evil Within game such a cult classic makes a return to Evil Within 2. This includes the safe rooms with a save point, and mirror that takes you back to Sebastian’s “safe space” basically a recreation of his old office while he was still a detective in Krimson City. Inside the office, you will find an upgrade bench for upgrading your weapons and creating ammunition and health syringes. And of course, the infamous upgrade chair that allows you upgrade your stats and abilities using a green gel with creepy nurse Tatiana also makes a welcome return. The storage safes also make a return which contains useful items such as green gel and ammunition. These keys are collected by finding and breaking ‘Madonna’ statues hidden throughout the game. One nice addition to this room is a coffee machine that you can drink from which recharges your health instantly.
Weapons include a small knife for basic defense which can also be used to sneak up behind enemies with killing them instantly. Other weapons make a return including pistols, shotguns, flamethrower and crossbow with various bowheads which includes explosive, freezing, electric and smoke. You also pick up a one hit weapon (ax) which has the ability to kill most enemies with one it but breaks immediately afterward. All of which have can be upgraded at your workbench using the parts you collect while exploring Union. There is a very small and limited amount of weapons and ammunition in the game itself, so ammo and health management are crucial. Sebastian is also given an item known as a “The Communicator”, which helps to highlight useful objectives like, resources, points of interest and objectives. It will also reveal what is called “Resonance Points”.
Which is basically flashbacks and provides hints regarding what had happened in the virtual world of Union. One big change from the original game which was extremely linear is that the world of Union is now an open world, which leaves you free to explore it at your own leisure which enables you to complete side quests and collect upgrades, weapons, and ammunition. And unlike the first game, this gives you multiple ways to fight enemies something you did not really get to do in the first game. You can choose to fight them head on which takes a lot of ammunition which I won’t recommend or you can go the stealth route which is far more rewarding and entertaining. There is nothing more satisfying than executing a well-coordinated sneak attack on an unsuspecting enemy. Which is made far more challenging due to a well written IA, which definitely bumps up the challenge factor.
There are three difficulty modes in the game, namely Casual, Survival, and Nightmare. I would highly recommend Survival and then doing a Nightmare play through using the game+ mode once you completed the game. As all of your upgrades and weapons transfer into this mode. One of Evil Within’s greatest achievements is the way that it goes to great lengths and depths to make you understand what drives Sebastian, he isn’t just father looking for his missing daughter and wife. But he also has to deal with the horrors he faced 3 years ago in Beacon Mental Hospital, Krimson City. To be able to read that level of emotion from a video game characters face, rather than having them spell out their feelings through voice acting, is an extremely rare achievement in video games. And the only other game that comes to mind that achieved this was Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.
The in-game lighting and sound is amazing and compliments each other extremely well, not to mention a graphically solid game that at no point slows down or feels sluggish, making Sebastian’s ordeal feel all the more real. The graphics engine from the original also makes a return but now vastly improved, from textures, lighting effect and facial animations everything got a graphical overhaul. The Evil Within 2 does an amazing job of building a thick and heavy atmosphere that you want to immerse yourself in. And unlike its predecessor that tried to dabble in the psychological horror aspect which did not work so well, the second game trades all of that in for pure survival horror and that alone was a smart design choice for the second game. Yes, it is still extremely spooky with a sense of dread and uneasiness and plenty of jump scares scattered in between.
The game also dials back the gore aspect of the game the original had you literally swimming on blood most of the time. Instead, they went for the subtle approach and it worked. There were times when I was genuinely afraid to continue with the game. You would fight 4-5 creatures and move onto the next part of town where you would be met with a dark empty street that felt way too ominous and empty. It is extremely rare these days to play a sequel to a game which improved itself in every aspect graphics, sound, gameplay, story, and presentation. Every single aspect of the game was reworked to provide a better player experience. And with everything said and done I can say without a doubt that Evil Within 2 is easily one of the best survival horror games I played this year easily surpassing Resident Evil 7 and the best 25 hours I spent in recent memory.