With “The Evil Within,” legendary game developer Shinji Mikami aimed to bring the survival-horror genre back to its roots. He gave players a creepy and mind-bending game with a plot that was hard to follow but exuded a nightmarish atmosphere that made one’s skin crawl.
The sequel, “The Evil Within 2,” maintains the status quo while giving players a new story. Sebastian Castellanos returns once again, but he has a new goal. He wants to find his daughter, Lily, who he believed was perished in a fire. It turns out she was somehow alive and in the hands of the mysterious Mobius corporation. The company has put her in the STEM machine, a device that connects people’s minds together. It was the technology at the heart of the first game.
Being an expert in this field, Sebastian once again goes into the STEM machine and delves into his daughter’s memories in order to rescue her.
When it comes the gameplay, “The Evil Within 2” maintains the survival-horror aspects of the genre. Sebastian has limited ammo. He can carry several weapons. He can heal himself with syringes. Combat is shot in a third-person perspective with stiff controls. It creates an intimacy with the character while at the same time limiting the perspective. It pushes a sense of claustrophobia as players explore the environment and scavenge for items that Sebastian can use. During combat, players have to mentally keep tabs on the location of the enemy because the camera is usually focused on Sebastian.
During the campaign, he runs across random items like gunpowder that can be used to craft vital ammo. He’ll discover weapon parts that is used to raise the firepower of his weapons, boost its bullet capacity, speed up the reload time or increase the firing rate. Along with that, he can collect green gel that enables him to improve his health, stamina other stats.
In the demo, I came across two bosses and one puzzle. Going in cold, the boss fight was difficult as I learned the control scheme. It wasn’t until later that I realized the environment plays an important role in combat. A flipped-over car will be leaking gasoline and luring the monster and firing at the puddle will set it on fire. Elsewhere in the battleground, there are explosive barrels that Sebastian can use to deal more damage. It’s important to use these tools in order to defeat the monster quickly and conserve ammo.
The puzzle in between the boss fights wasn’t too difficult. Unlike previous Mikami games, the problem involving a mannequin and a camera made sense. It’s tied to the boss of the area, who has a penchant for taking pictures.
In the last battle, I encountered a creature called the Obscura. This fight is the complete opposite of the first one, which featured a creature that followed Sebastian around. The Obscura is craftier. It stays in the shadows and players have play hide and seek with it. They’ll have to draw it out from its hiding places in the ceiling so they can shoot it. The Obscura has the ability to freeze time, and the goal of the battle is to stay alive long enough for the emitter to reset and kill it. Each time the Obscura stops the world, players can put time back in motion by shooting the monster.
From what I played, “The Evil Within 2” seems to be a little more polished this time around. The combat remains interesting while the team has improved the visuals. It should be a game that’s on the radar of survival-horror fans when it comes out Oct. 13 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
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