So the Evil Within 2 is out and I gotta say… It’s pretty great.

I had mixed feelings about the first game, to say the least. On one hand, it was an amazing horror game with some really solid shooting and gameplay. And on the other it had the most obnoxious crafting system as well as the crossbow, and let’s not forget about that frame rate on console. So going into the second one I just wanted two things, less crafting and a better frame rate. And I got my wish, kinda sorta.

Story: A bit of the Matrix, a bit of Paprika, a bit of Resident Evil.

The story takes place three years after the events of the first game. Our very own cardboard box man Sebastian is pretty much a wreck and an alcoholic. He’s sitting at a bar or something and he gets approached by Kidman from the first game, and she tells him that his daughter who disappeared mysteriously is actually trapped inside of the STEM system because Mobius wanted to use her as a battery. When you go in, you see that shit’s gone crazy again and you gotta get your butthole ready for some scares and zombie shootin’.

So the first half of the game surrounds some weird foreign dude who likes to take photos of murder, and the the rest of the game revolves on saving your daughter with some cool twists and turns here and there. I never complained about Evil Within 1’s story since it was dumb fun and I enjoyed it a lot more than other people, and this game’s story is pretty much more of the same. The whole setup is just to get you back into spooksville and it works.

Sebastian as a character is also much better than in the first game. Although he can still be pretty boring at times, his personality seems to be more fleshed out as he makes me chuckle here and there. The voice acting can be really inconsistent at times (mostly apparent when Sebastian gets a little heated) but all in all, he ends up having more charm this time around.

The game aside from the story

I think the best thing about this game is its horror aspect. Some of the imagery and the scene composition is just so great and unique I haven’t really seen much stuff like it in a while. The areas look great, there’s plenty of cool stuff to look at and the enemy designs are fantastic (some of them really get under my skin). This game is a horror game first and foremost and I think they did an amazing job at getting you unsettled. I’ve left out those images because you need to experience the best moments for yourself.

The gameplay has undergone a significant overhaul. Stealth has an additional layer of polish and has been improved from the last game, it’s a more feasible option this time around and if ya get caught, the gunplay is also way more satisfying and responsive. The crafting mechanics which soured me last time are still present and even though I don’t like them, I think it’s still a much needed upgrade over the first game’s implementation and it balances itself out quite well. The UI design and menus are also faster and more responsive so that could also attribute to it not feeling like as much of a chore.

It’s quite interesting how this game’s sense of terror hooks itself into you, it’s not some new groundbreaking stuff but good ol’ survival horror. You will be absolutely stressed out while playing this game and mind you; it is not easy. I played on the medium difficulty and I was barely making it out alive at most times. The creator Shinji Mikami himself recommended people to play on the casual difficulty. There is an aim assist which helps out a lot but you can always turn it off it’s making things too easy (and I prefer it off anyway).

The AI in this game is admittedly a little weak. I can cheese the enemies for days and they don’t keep their eyes on you too long when you get caught and you’re trying to be stealthy. You can just run around for a bit and you’re in the clear. This is mostly apparent in the open world but fortunately in the smaller, more linear areas, it’s pretty much a non-issue.

Open-world? More Silent Hill than Far Cry.

A drastic shift from the design of the last game is that this time around there’s a more open-ended mission structure. Now, you’re in the small “open-world” of a town called Union, inside the STEM system. In this open world, you follow transmissions using a little communicator and these transmissions can lead you to side-stories, crafting supplies, better weapons, ammo pouches and small little scary bits that make it all worth it. These little side quests you go on are fairly rewarded and they don’t feel like a chore or like you’re going out your way to do something else, it all feels like you are just playing a linear story for the most part – looking back, it’s actually impressive how these bits of emergent gameplay are so tightly integrated into the experience with scripted encounters to tie ’em all together.

In terms of visual presentation, the game looks stunning. Even on the PS4 the game looks fantastic and it all runs at a mostly stable 30 FPS with only minor dips in the framerate during non-gameplay sections. This main reason I had such a hard time with The Evil Within 1 was the abysmal framerate hindering my enjoyment. Initially I encountered many issues with the framerate, but upon discussing with friends – I discovered that this was an isolated issue; rebuilding the database on my PS4 fixed all of these issues and the game sticks to its framerate as of patch 1.01.

Conclusion

In the end, the Evil Within 2 ended up being a really unexpected pleasant surprise for me this year. Almost all my complaints from the first game have been addressed and handled better. And to top it off, the things that I adored about the first game have been improved to an extremely high degree of polish. I seriously recommend this for anyone looking for something spooky to play this Halloween.

I give the Evil Within 2 an 8.5 out of 10.

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