The Evil Within 2 Review: Not Enough Evil

The first half hour of The Evil Within 2 is spent in natural confusion. Not so much because of the traditionally fast-paced beginning, but because everything suddenly became… clear. No riddles, no unspoken agreements, and no other mysterious preludes – now from the threshold, you can say where you are, why, and for what reason, and at the same time, plan an entertainment program for the next couple of evenings. And this is in a Japanese horror game. It’s unbelievable, they say.

Sebastian in The Evil Within 2

The original, if anyone doesn’t know, was not spoiled by such luxury. Everything there was the complete opposite, in the format of an unreadable cocktail of twisted mysticism, psychedelia, and unrestrained love for barbed wire, in which one was forced to clumsily immerse themselves until the final unveiling. The murky narrative bacchanalia of The Evil Within. we were not particularly impressed at the time, but partly thanks to it, the mediocre attempt to reinvent Resident Evil 4 was memorable.

So it was fair to expect a sequel with a somewhat similar style. But this time, as it turned out, they decided to go a completely different way.

Instead of hiding key plot elements behind the scenes, they introduce them right away and without any deceitful glimmer in their eyes. So here’s the ominous mega-corporation, here’s its homemade monster matrix, and here we are, the long-suffering detective Sebastian, who once again has to dive into this very matrix. The goal of the journey is even known in advance – to save his own daughter. And if you happen to forget or not understand something from the first part, don’t worry, they will also recap it along the way.

Immediately after the barrage of introductory videos, where extremely talkative characters spill all the beans, the aforementioned dissonance arises. The Evil Within 2 does everything in its power to show that it’s not hiding anything from the player, and at first, it feels a bit strange to witness this artistic suicide. Because thanks to this, the overall picture is certainly easier to perceive, but at the same time, some special magic of the unknown, which similar projects often rely on, disappears.

A chilling cutscene in the game

Let’s be honest. The Evil Within 2 was rarely truly scary, but it excelled in creating discomfort – precisely because it took away the psychological support provided by visible plot logic. Most of the time, common sense was denied, and this is what created a dense atmosphere of anxious uncertainty.

In the new story, there is no longer the question of “What is happening?” We are no longer Sebastian, the victim, but Sebastian, the hero, who is extensively instructed, warned, and supported throughout the rescue operation. He already knows, can do, and does much more than any other genre protagonist, which almost subconsciously hinders the experience of genuine horror from anything.

It’s hard to say how this happened. The closest assumption is that the writers at Tango Gameworks simply didn’t expect a continuation. After all, the main questions were already answered three years ago, and trying to play secrets when all the cards are on the table would be foolish.

A fiery encounter in The Evil Within 2
Reflecting in a mysterious mirror

As a result, The Evil Within 2, despite being a horror game on the cover, actually turns out to be an extremely transparent action-adventure with a dark tone. Everything in it is familiar and predictable, not only in terms of the story and its progression methods. The game itself consists of thoroughly derivative elements, the workings of which you understand long before the corresponding tutorial text appears on the screen.

A worn-out RE-like shooter can scare you with a shortage of ammo as much as it wants, but experience tells us that a box or two will still be found on the way at the most crucial moment. Stealth with a Skyrim-like indicator predictably boils down to crawling behind cover and throwing bottles to distract enemies – just like in your The Last of Us or, if we exclude exclusives, Rise of the Tomb Raider There is no need to talk about ubiquitous upgrade-crafting systems. Of course, there are GOST’s “+5% reload speed while shooting on the run when health is below half” for 100 conditional units of scrap metal here.

They managed to bring even an open world to completely comply with the laws of fashion. Naturally, the full-fledged sandbox did not turn into a sequel; it’s just that claustrophobic linear episodes are now occasionally interspersed with hub locations where the player’s hands are untied and they are allowed to freely rummage through the trash. This is the final nail in the coffin of The Evil Within 2 as a horror game – but a whole new life for The Evil Within 2 as an adventure game. This is where the most interesting part begins.

Ammo supplies for survival

Here’s a problem…

Wandering through the virtual town of Union, where the action takes place, sooner or later you notice paths made of neatly laid supplies leading to clearly unrelated places. For curious travelers, there are side sketches of various kinds: from shamefully pointless flashbacks from the life of the fourth corpse on the left – to side quests of astonishing competence. In one, they offer to save the few survivors, another ironically refers to the original events, and the third launches a long parallel (and quite creepy, by the way) arc, which is just as satisfying to complete as playing the game itself. There isn’t much external activity, but it is so well crafted, with cutscenes, unique rewards, and other joys, that once you get hooked on it, you won’t stop until you clear the map of icons.

That’s how it eventually dawned on me that the patchwork monster of other people’s ideas actually has such a vulgar thing as a soul. Whether it’s a matter of habit or something else, but about 8 hours later, when all the normal horrors start to get on your nerves, I suddenly realized that I no longer curse at every banality, but with genuine interest, I rummage through the trash, search for hidden weapons on the levels, and even read useless notes out of the corner of my eye. The Evil Within 2 shouldn’t be a good game by any of its parameters, but it tries so hard to become one that at some point all these rusty gears click – and set in motion a surprisingly solid mechanism.

Yes, at best it is ordinary, but there is something appealing about it. Some kind of sincere simplicity of a mediocre thriller caught in the evening broadcast. The kind that you watch without much tension or special interest, but still watch until the end and somehow get pure enjoyment out of it.

Mastering the art of stealth

A coffee break in the midst of chaos

And the coffee here is damn good!

Moreover, the game perfectly understands what niche it aims for, and therefore behaves accordingly. The script is filled with clichés on the verge of parody, introduces deliberately colorful antagonists, makes the main character ask “what the hell is this?!?” nine hundred times per minute, and operates concepts like “stable field generator” without even attempting to explain them. And if there are any doubts about whether they are serious, they will soon offer you to take a break from saving your daughter and shoot in an arcade shooting range. Well… not entirely seriously.

In the second half, when The Evil Within 2 completely abandons all the pretenses of its predecessor and turns into a surreal action movie about kicking down doors, you can literally feel how comfortable it is in these conditions. By replacing the boring mournful confusion with a delightful combination of light trash and Japanese eccentricity, practically the same game suddenly becomes charming, learns to have fun, and simply becomes captivating. Undoubtedly, the first part was scarier, more challenging, and more coherent, but only here, when the “New Game Plus” is mentioned, you really want to stay for a few more dozen hours.

Exploring the twisted Union

Such a turn of events. It was impossible to imagine a worse heiress, but it is precisely for this reason that The Evil Within 2 deserves the well-deserved green rating from us. For the necessary corrections in the structure, gameplay accents, presentation, and overall tone – for a bold and, it turns out, correct step forward.

A note to sequels: if the native apple tree is withering, perhaps it is worth getting away from it as far as possible.

The Evil Within 2
PC, PS4, Xbox One
Bethesda Softworks
Tango Gameworks
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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