Horror has to be effective and when it is effective, it usually requires a careful approach and a careful control over the plot to keep tension and to keep that tension to build up. The Evil Within 2 is starting to succeed with that and it turns the genre upside down in some ways, it allows you to explore but you never quite feel at ease.
2014’s The Evil Within wasn’t like this, despite Shinji Mikami’s work on Resident Evil with the groundbreaking Resident Evil 4, The Evil Within was disappointing and frankly I didn’t really care for it perhaps it was because it was too Eastern and it was that type of horror that I’m not interested in. It had no pacing, an abundance of frustrating moments and boring writing that it made me hard to care about the game.
I’m currently three hours into The Evil Within 2, and what is most telling and most impressive is that Tango took every complaint to heart and it was like they worked through a checklist. It does all of this by blending that Horror I know, Western Horror into Eastern Japanese Horror and on top of that, it expands the scope and size of the game.
To give you a brief rundown: The sequel continues the story of Detective Sebastian Castellanos but it doesn’t require a knowledge of the original game but it is a bit more helpful if you went and played it first but it isn’t required. The sequel takes place three years after the ending of the original game, Castellanos is recruited by force into Mobius and thrust back into the STEM world which is an alternate reality where people once again turn into freakshow monsters. Sometime between then and now, Castellanos had a daughter named Lily who died in a fire but she’s alive in the STEM and is currently trapped. It’s a cliche addition because most games now feature that kind of storyline with the family but unlike the first game, Lily gives you a reason to continue to play through the story.
By leaping right into STEM, The Evil Within 2 is able to embrace the best aspects of the original game and how it gets crazy and confusing later on into the story. The sequel sees Sebastian jumping into the most weirdest places: One minute he’s walking through an art gallery set in a hotel hallway and the next minute, he’s in the skies above Union in a destroyed city.
Most of my several hours have been set in rural town America, a town by the name of Union which is based on an everyday rural American town and that brings the setting more to life then the Asylum in the first game. Weird art hangs on walls, neon signs flicker, and junk litters the streets and drawers. Union might be an alternate reality but Tango makes the effort into bringing Union to life and making you feel like it’s real, recognizable place and to be honest, I recognize Union.
Naturally, with a bigger area to explore and play in comes the biggest departure from the first game: Open world. It isn’t Fallout or The Elder Scrolls levels of open world, but it’s indeed open: You can explore the section of the map to your liking and find resources like ammunition and supplies to craft ammo, grenades, etc. Also there are optional side quests in The Evil Within 2, Sebastian is given something like walkie-talkie and a map so he can go do things. You’ll find side quests, dead operatives with a bunch of ammo, and maybe a gun or two.
I’m astounded by The Evil Within 2 takes open world gameplay and manages to make it work in a horror game. The horror genre isn’t really known for open world gameplay, it’s known for being scary and having tight corridors and spooky locations. In Union, you can do whatever you want and the pacing of the game never suffers from it.
I’m not sure if the pacing will suffer or if the magic will ware off by the name I get to closing the game but the game is magical, the game throws everything at me and when I think I saw the last of it, the game drags the carpet from underneath my feet and it gives me more. The Evil Within 2 is nailing it on the head.
Stay tuned for my review.