The Evil Within 2 review for Xbox One, PS4, PC

Platform: Xbox One
Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

I?m still in shock by how night and day my time with The Evil Within 2 has been, compared to its predecessor. The original was a game I was super excited about and was ultimately disappointed by the confusing narrative, boring overall experience and often unforgivable difficulty spikes. Fellow editor Paul forced himself to finish the game, despite his dislike of the game, penning the term ?Evil Withining? it for games you play just to get through.

I was a bit more forgiving about the game and my time with it, but ultimately was left underwhelmed with what could?ve been the next step in ?Survival Horror?. With game concepts like P.T. and actual released like Resident Evil 7, the way we interpret the genre changed in a drastic way. As much as I enjoyed Resident Evil 7, to me, it?s not the survival horror we?ve loved all these years.

While most developers abandoned the Resident Evil 4 formula, Tango Gameworks took advantage of it, but with a lukewarm result. The biggest question is, did Tango learn from their experience with the first game, to create a superior sequel? I would say so, for the most part.

Playing ?The Evil Within 2? genuinely gave me hope that the classic genre could co-exist with the new RE7 type of gameplay. One of the things were how the tension and trippy atmosphere that we experienced in Beacon is experienced right from the beginning. It reminded me of how much I wanted to enjoy the original, and within the first hour, I was hooked.

The Evil Within 2 takes place after the original and has you once again controlling Sebastian Castellanos, only this time, he is dealing with the loss of his family. He?s approached by his former colleague Kidman from the original. She informs him, that his daughter is alive and needs to be rescued. It?s a story that?s difficult to speak on without spoilers so I will leave you with he is tasked with entering a world eerily like Beacon Hospital, only much darker.

The pacing has changed exponentially as we are now giving a nonlinear environment to explore. This helps break up the traditional chapter format as well. This time around, you?re given much more freedom to explore areas as well as the option to revisit locations in case you missed items. The inclusion of this new world opens doors to a plethora of new components to the game that just work well.

Traversing the world and discovering all the nooks and crannies is something, I’ve never cared much for. That changed once I was given a communicator, your way of finding potential survivors, ammo and even weapons by tuning into the proper frequency. It’s interesting how the communicator works when you first encounter someone you are tracing. I would spoil that for you.

The many new and returning components in the game heavily compliment each other in such a harmonious way. Take the audio for instance. While the game can be enjoyed with TV audio or surround sound. The true immersion comes in the form of a nice pair of headphones. Between the tense music when you are encountering creatures and the more atmospheric tones that come with bizarre monsters groaning around the corner from you, it’s a rollercoaster of an experience. To top it all, the developer really knows how to make that shotgun sound resonate with the intense damage it causes.

Something that makes a return is the upgrade/crafting systems. These were features were a welcome return and accessing them fits in with the new map layout. You can craft on the go, which helps you in a bind. Accessing the upgrade tree still involves the crazy hybrid wheelchair/electric chair which feels more fitting this time around.

Bethesda and Tango took some risks this time around, but I feel they learned from listening to the fans. By incorporating a different progression scheme, it enables the game to be so much more than originally intended. Another addition to the game is the ability to perform side missions. Not only does this help drive the narrative, it also gives you more of a reason to explore.

There was one time, where I backtracked to get some parts for a weapon I found and came across a woman being chased by some of the zombie like enemies you encounter, and could rescue her and be rewarded for my actions. This didn?t feel forced or tacked on which is usually the case in other ?sandbox? type games. Even though the game isn?t a full-fledged, ?Sandbox? game, its expansive enough to give you hours of extra gameplay and still make you feel a bit claustrophobic.

Some other great things about the sequel are the ?Big Bads? as I like to call them. These are usually demented creatures that when you first encounter, make you run for cover because you don?t think you stand a chance. These characters made or broke the experience for some in the original, because the difficulty spike in some of the encounters was simply unbearable.

I didn?t get that same frustration this time around, even when I was slaughtered. With these sequences alone, I would highly recommend playing with a headset and all the lights off. My first encounter had my skin crawling, and hearing things that constantly made me turn in my chair.

Tango got a ton right this time around and I could go on about it, but it?s a game that really deserves a 2nd chance for players that didn?t enjoy the original. With that said, I need to vent briefly about the elephant in the room. Our main protagonist, Mr. Castellanos. For someone who has been through such a traumatic experience like this the first time around, he seems very unfamiliar with what?s going on.

It?s so confusing for the character to be so shocked with what he is dealing with. Statements like ?What the?? and ?What the hell is going on here?? are blurted way too often and doesn?t say much for the character. He was informed as to what he was getting himself into, yet feels the need to ask everyone, like they would know better? I know, splitting hairs again, but it almost makes me want to have a silent protagonist.

Despite this nuance, ?The Evil Within 2? trumps its predecessor in every way, inevitably making this one of the best forms of survival horror in recent years. Dare I say? Evil Within 2 is Survival Horror, evolved.

Grade: B+