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Review

The Evil Within 2 Review

  • First Released Oct 12, 2017
    released
  • Reviewed Oct 12, 2017
  • PC
  • XONE
  • PS4

Dead by dawn

Innovating within the bounds of horror's familiar tropes and rules is a difficult task, but one that The Evil Within 2 handles with grace. Developer Tango Gameworks cleverly introduces old-school horror design within the confines of a semi-open world that ultimately makes for a refreshing trip into a world of nightmares.

Picking up several years after the first game, we find the former detective Sebastian Castellanos in dire straits, still wracked with guilt over the loss of his family and haunted by his last visit into a nightmare version of reality. When a shadowy organization gives him the chance to set things right with his past and rescue his daughter from the dangerous and unstable world of Union, he willingly re-enters the haunting realm despite his residual trauma.

Right from the beginning, there's a sense of deja vu as Sebastian wanders the eerie and unreal locations in Union. Despite being one of the few survivors from the first game, he oddly finds himself falling for the same tricks and set-ups that the world and its inhabitants lay out for him. While this could be chalked up to a simple retread, much of these instances make a point of illustrating some key differences from this game and the last.

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There's generally more of an adventurous feel compared to the original's isolated levels. With more side characters to interact with--opening up moments of dialogue that flesh out the story--and optional events scattered around the world, there's a level of freedom and variety in The Evil Within 2 that was largely absent from the first game. However, there are a few notable sections where backtracking is required, which slows the pacing and sense of progression to a crawl.

Despite this, exploration is consistently enjoyable, rewarding treks to the places tucked away, where you can find details about Union's history and meet other characters looking to survive the nightmare. With so many little details that add a lot to atmosphere, there's a clear respect for The Evil Within's world. The many nods to original game feel more impactful for it, giving a renewed appreciation for Sebastian's previous adventure.

Compared to its predecessor's singular levels in unique chapters, The Evil Within 2 possesses a more organic and interconnected set of places to explore--focusing on several large maps with multiple points of interest. While there's still plenty of mind-bending and perspective-skewing set pieces, such as a tentacle creature with a large camera for an eye, the explorable spaces are the real standout. In many ways, it's like traversing through a demented amusement park filled with hideous creations, forcing yourself to face past horrors. Adventuring to places not marked on the map often yields valuable resources, and also leads to some surprising encounters with obsessive ghosts and multiple unnerving, fourth-wall breaking events.

It takes more than just going for the head to take out some of the tougher enemies.
It takes more than just going for the head to take out some of the tougher enemies.

Over time, environments descend into chaos when Union inevitably grows unstable, turning a small town into a horrifying and unnerving shell of its former self. Streets vertically upend, and fire and blood exude from places they shouldn't. The visual design of The Evil Within 2 successfully juxtaposes vastly different settings and aesthetics, and presents them in a bizarre package that illustrates the erratic and unpredictable nature of the world.

While Sebastian felt more like a mere sketch of a hardened and weary protagonist in his first outing, he feels better realized and more grounded in this sequel, giving a certain gravitas to his struggle. Showing bewilderment and confusion throughout the first game, he's more confident and determined this time, even throwing in some fitting one-liners that poke fun at some of the dangers in the last game. The supporting cast of villains also feel more active in the ongoing events, and have a greater sense of place this time around--particularly with the eccentric serial killer artist who photographs his victims upon their deaths.

The Evil Within 2 successfully juxtaposes vastly different settings and aesthetics, and presents them in a bizarre package that illustrates the erratic and unpredictable nature of the world.

While there's occasional moments of cheese and humor throughout--such as the inclusion of a goofy shooting range and collectible toys related to other Bethesda games--the levity never feels out of place, which is an accomplishment considering the game's pervasive macabre atmosphere.

Putting a greater emphasis on the survival aspect of survival horror, The Evil Within 2 demands resource management and bravery in its relatively spacious world. While common enemies are fewer in number compared to the original game, they're far more threatening alone and can easily manhandle Sebastian. There's a thoughtful approach to engagement and progression this time around, which means you'll have to think twice about whether or not to engage a group of enemies. With that said, you have a sizable arsenal of weapons and gear--including the return of the Crossbow with six different ammo types--to take on the enemies as you see fit.

Some encounters will pull out all the stops to prevent Sebastian from making progress.
Some encounters will pull out all the stops to prevent Sebastian from making progress.

Throughout his journey, Sebastian carries a communication device, allowing him to keep track of main objectives, along with points of interest and intel on the fates of side characters in the area. How you go about dealing with these characters and exploring is up to you. Similarly, whether you avoid conflict with enemies or take out as many as possible along the way is down to your preferred playstyle. The Evil Within 2 accommodates those that prefer action as much as those that like to be stealthy. Combat is robust, thanks to improved weapon handling and character upgrading that allows you to focus on the specific areas of Sebastian's skillset to enhance stealth, combat, and athleticism.

Sebastian can return to the safe haven of his mind to upgrade weapons and skills, and review case files and intel on various characters. With the Green Gel collected from fallen enemies--and the new Red Gel that unlocks upper tier upgrades--the core upgrading system has been greatly improved. Going beyond simply increasing damage of melee strikes and stamina length, new special perks can be unlocked such as the ever-useful Bottle Break skill that uses bottles as self-defense items when grabbed by enemies. Along with the expanded weapon upgrade system, using only weapon parts, the systems of progression feel far more nuanced and open.

Sebastian will have to scavenge for supplies and other materials to make up for the lack of ammo boxes and health items. While this may seem like it can make things easy, efficient crafting can only be done at dedicated workbenches, whereas crafting in the field via the radial inventory menu should be done a last resort as it costs twice as many materials. This crafting element adds a bit of a survivalist feel to The Evil Within 2, where you're scrounging around corners to find materials, all while avoiding packs of enemies looking to pummel you.

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Though the game is challenging even on its standard difficulty level, it's not unfair, and there are options for multiple playstyles. The standard Survival difficulty mode is manageable, and you won't find yourself hitting a way due to lack of resources. However, the Nightmare mode raises the stakes, featuring slightly altered combat encounters, harder enemies, and fewer resources to find. If you're up for a challenge of a different kind, the unlockable Classic mode will disable auto-saves, upgrades, and limit you to a finite amount of saves. In addition to extra unlockables for completing the tougher difficulties, the experiences they offer is more in keeping with the true survival horror experience, where resources are hard to come by, and the enemies are deadlier than before.

There's a clear respect for the horror genre in The Evil Within 2, with a number of references to classic films and games. The game channels that style and tone into combat that feels brutal and raw, stealth that has an air of suspense, and unsettling confrontations with dangerous, otherworldly creatures. The Evil Within 2 doubles down on the core of what makes survival horror games great: the focus on disempowerment and obstacles, and the ensuing satisfaction that comes with surviving a harrowing assault.

Though there's some occasional technical hiccups that result in some particularly frustrating moments and weird pacing issues, this horror sequel elevates the tense and impactful survival horror experience in ways that feel fresh and exciting. What this cerebral horror game does isn't totally new, but it rarely feels routine, and offers plenty of surprises. Coming in at a lengthy and surprisingly packed 15-hour campaign, the sequel does an admirable job of ratcheting up the tension and scares when it needs to, while also giving you the freedom to explore and proceed how you want. It's a tough thing to balance, but The Evil Within 2 does it remarkably well, and in a way that leaves a strong and lasting impression after its touching conclusion.

Back To Top
The Good
Haunting and macabre atmosphere that pulls you into the lead character's struggle
Varied and inventive level design that switches things up considerably
Improved upgrading and weapon system that allows for more customization based on player choice
Solid storytelling and improved narrative that conveys a complex and touching narrative
The Bad
Weird pacing issues and inconsistencies across some chapters, and backtracking can be a drag
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Alessandro enjoys survival horror games and thinks the Resident Evil remake is one of the best games ever made. While he found the original Evil Within to be mostly entertaining, he was very surprised at how much of an improvement the sequel is. Bethesda provided a complimentary PS4 copy of the game for the purposes of this review, with other members of staff playing the PC and Xbox One versions.
255 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for deactivated-5c56012aaa167

This one just had a better stealth compare to the first one. In other parts the first one is better.

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

What a great game it is. You're advised to taclke Nightmare difficulty if you liked the first games difficulty, but it is still aptly named. If you're not and old school fan or hated runing out of ammo in Dead Space, try the normal difficulty instead.

Avatar image for juxax
juxax

the original game had more in your face jump scares. ripped directly from resident evil 4. I liked the ability to blow chunks out of the enemies faces, the story was all over the place, but it was a great game, with better DLCs.

TEW2 is directed by the guy who did the DLCs directing. all in all, it's a very unerving, moody psychological horror game, akin to silent hill 2. On nightmare difficulty every enemy is a threat for a long time, ammo management is crucial, certain harder parts of the game require patience and a bit of perseverance but it never feels cheap. it's brilliantly paced from start to finish, and well worth hitting a new game + straight away.

it has it's issues, bad dialogue, it gets better as u progress, in the sense that when characters speak it doesn't stand out, glaring at you like it was written by a 12 year old, and like the first game the best guns u get at the end of the game.

Avatar image for off3nc3
off3nc3

Finished it in 14 hours on survival doing most of the side quests. It's an awesome game but the first one was way scarier and better imo.

Avatar image for Subaru1980
Subaru1980

As far I hate Bethesda's policies when it comes to Bethesda Game Studios, I must give them credits for their other franchises. One of few publishers fully supporting single-player gaming.

The Evil Within 2 is a really great game and every horror fan should give it a try. I enjoyed it and it's a big improvement compared to 2014's original title.

Avatar image for Chipp
Chipp

I'm playing it now. Its definitely better than TEW1 in every aspect. Though, I think the original was a bit more scary.

Avatar image for Subaru1980
Subaru1980

@Chipp: I don't understand why some players loved TEW1 more. Yes it was a great game but there was a very long list of issues (weak story, flat Sebastien, some controls problems...).

The second title is way better.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Subaru1980: "I don't understand why some players loved TEW1 more."

You could burn bodies preventing resurrection, hide under beds, traps had more variety, and Ruvik is a more interesting psychopath than anything in the sequel.

Otherwise I do prefer the sequel, it improves in the right areas and makes itself different enough from Resident Evil 4 so the haters can finally shut up about the similarities. And even though TEW2 is an easier game, it's more well balanced, one of TEWs main drawbacks is the sudden difficulty spikes.

Avatar image for craigtl
CraigTL

@RSM-HQ: Even on the hardest difficulty I don't recall bodies resurrecting. If they got back up after being shot down they simply were not dead. There were also a few lost that would start out on the ground but would awaken if you didn't burn them first, but not nearly as often as it could have happened with the amount of bodies found laying down. I did miss being able to kill a group of lost at one time by lighting a body on fire at first, but I got over it. The only time I hid in the game was in the first chapter when you had to, but other than that, I wasn't into hiding so I can see why they got rid of it. TEW2 was not as difficult, the lost were easier to gun down, you could stealth attack almost anything including one of the bosses, but it was still a great game. I just wish I started out on a higher difficulty, I was expecting it to be has tough as the first.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@craigtl: If you kill them with a prompt melee attack or head explode, they do not come back ever. However, kill them with body shots etc, and they do come back.

If like me you mostly play to bottle glass and knife kill, and head shots you won't see them coming back for more.

Avatar image for cherub1000
Cherub1000

@Subaru1980: agreed. I didn't mind the original despite its many issues. This time round the game feels much more solid and complete, my only gripe is... it just isn't scary, seriously, I've not jumped once? I wouldn't push this to the crowd that wants to feel scared, but it makes a truly fantastic survival action game! For those that really want to be peeing in thier sleep I'd look towards outlast.

Avatar image for craigtl
CraigTL

@cherub1000: Agreed I went into it with intimidation due to expectations but after a while I realized you can always duck hide and come back around for a stealth kill if you get in a jam. I liked the open environments that gave you options but it came at the cost of less fear. I always had plenty of ammo and healing thanks to crafting. Having a safe house with a hot cup of coffee waiting..... it's like what, Union isn't so bad after all.

Avatar image for vigariox
vigariox

Part 1 was one of the most horrible wannabe horror games ever imo so I am not sure about this. This is coming from someone who played all resident Evil and Silent hill games as well as other horror/survival games. A cop who can't run for more than 3 secs, 0 original ideas and horrific characters are amongst the 101 reasons I hated part 1. I forced myself to finish it though coz I paid full price for it unfortunately...

Avatar image for cherub1000
Cherub1000

@vigariox: well I'd say this sequel is very different, and positively so! The more open world idea works well and exploration is rewarding. Story makes more sense here and the characters (in my opinion) are much better fleshed out. If your not sure then wait for a price drop but I'd say give it go for sure!

Avatar image for DaRq_MiNoS
DaRq_MiNoS

@vigariox: I thought the first game was pretty good. Not spectacular, but it definitely brought back the old Resident Evil survival horror vibe.

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@vigariox: I didn't play Evil Within, but the few hours I've put into this game have been pretty good. It's kind of like a dumber The Last of Us. The start was slow, but once I finally got to the actual gameplay, out in the open world, it feels pretty good. And you can actually run for more than a dozen feet!

You might want to rent it before you buy, just to be safe.

Avatar image for juxax
juxax

@vigariox: blowing chunks of faces off was great, some boss fights were good too, safe head was awful, but the others were ok, the story was disjointed and enjoyed throwing you from area to area without any real sense of wtf is going on.

the sequel is better though, story is fairly strong going in, but dialogue is awful... the creatures are all fairly similar but fighting them is really tricky, especially on nightmare difficulty. it has some open areas, where there's weapons and side quests to find and stuff, and some pretty good stealth action. it's got heavy influences from TLOU, it's definitely better then the original in every way.

Avatar image for deactivated-5a03c1b04304d

I just booted up the game for the first time, to see that Shinji Mikami has no involvement in this game and it is directed by someone else. I was deeply bummed by this revelation. Mikami is a mastermind and knowing he did not direct EW2 seriously deflated my motivation to keep playing... F***...

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@baby_pwincess: Mikami is involved, he's just not the director.

Avatar image for juxax
juxax

@baby_pwincess: he did have a hand in making it, he just got the guy who did the first games' DLC to take on the main directional role. and it's certainly good oozing mikami's influences.

Avatar image for Subaru1980
Subaru1980

@juxax: Let's be honest, the TEW1 two DLCs (The Assignment and The Consequence) were excellent and IMO they were better than the main game.

John Johanas did a great job with TEW2.

Avatar image for Pffrbt
Pffrbt

Please stop calling this survival horror when it's clearly not. It's a horror themed third person shooter.

"the experiences they offer is more in keeping with the true survival horror experience, where resources are hard to come by, and the enemies are deadlier than before."

Uh, what? I have to wonder if the people saying this have ever actually played a classic survival horror title. You're typically drowning in resources and enemies are largely nonthreatening.

Avatar image for deactivated-5a03c1b04304d

@Pffrbt: Play on Nightmare mode

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Pffrbt: Seems you're just ignorant on TEW_

I play Survival Horror games all the time, Resident Evil Remake being my all time favorite.

The Evil Within 2 is Survival Horror. Deal with it!

Avatar image for deactivated-5a03c1b04304d

@RSM-HQ: RER is absolutely incredible.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@baby_pwincess: Yeah I love remake with a passion, especially when you unlock wondering Forest Speyer, that really raises the tension.

Avatar image for Pffrbt
Pffrbt

@RSM-HQ: It isn't survival horror. It has more in common with Resident Evil 5 and 6 than the likes of REmake or Silent Hill.

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@Pffrbt: Maybe I'll get way more resources later, but after 4ish hours, Evil Within 2 feels a lot closer to the older RE games than RE4+. By adding a stealth system, it seems like the developers decided they didn't need to give you the resources to reasonably take on all enemies all the time in combat.

Avatar image for juxax
juxax

@Pffrbt: on nightmare tew2 is fucking mental crazy hard, every single enemy is a threat, they dodge duck and weave like crackheads, and more then one at a time is a fucking death sentence, the open world areas play like real survival, where you creep away from your safehouse taking out threats and finding resources, to craft and upgrade more, and then the more linear chapters are balls to the wall enemies, dodging and running large groups ala resident evil 5-6, but even then it's not just a case of unloading a shotgun and getting your kills, you can tell the director studied the layouts of the areas to really add to the challenge, especially in the marrow with all them fuckers where u open the big doors.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Pffrbt: Nope, heavily disagree and I've played every game mentioned including TEW2.

Heavy focus on survival, low supplies, easy to be killed, tension, and a large focus on dread and loneliness. Something Resi 5 and 6 do not have.

You're either highly nostalgic and not willing to give TEW2 a chance, or you haven't even tried it and basing your opinion on a whim. Eitherway the game is Survival Horror and I've covered how it is.

Avatar image for RaveNRolla
RaveNRolla

@Pffrbt: i think one shouldn't be too narrow-minded about genres, especially while we live in a time where it's become quite usual to do whatever we want, mix things together and be creative.

Skyrim and GTA are both "open-world games", but do those games have anything in common apart from having a big map?

Avatar image for Pffrbt
Pffrbt

@RaveNRolla: The difference in that analogy is that "open world games" is significantly less specific than "survival horror".

Avatar image for ssabrewolf
ssabrewolf

@RaveNRolla: yes exactly the same i instatly thought, no need the super static nerd definition, its already hard to games like evil whithin to survive in today worlds with the shallow call of duty, destiny and fifa versions counterparsts which simply keep making a slight variant every 6 months and charge full price, but noobs still keep buying it, makign them billionares for a mediocre stuff

Avatar image for Pffrbt
Pffrbt

@ssabrewolf: "no need the super static nerd definition"

It's misleading to fans of survival horror to refer to a third person shooter action game as "survival horror". If I'm told a game is survival horror, I expect puzzles, riddles, de-emphasized combat, and Metroid-esque exploration.

Survival horror as a genre is basically dead though.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Pffrbt: Well, indeed there are a lot of resources to be collected - but they are unfinished things. Stuff can be crafted on the spot with reduced efficiency, or the player character has to hustle back to a workbench.

Also, all enemies that I have seen in the "survival horror" genre are really nonthreatening. It's just a matter of figuring out how their behavior scripting works, whether it be eliminating them or hiding from them.

Besides, there are always checkpoint reloads or save-reloads. Try and try again until one gets past - even in the supposedly toughest "survival horror" game of the lot.

Avatar image for Pffrbt
Pffrbt

@Gelugon_baat: I don't know what point you're trying to make. It feels like you misinterpreted what I said.

Avatar image for juxax
juxax

@Pffrbt: i get what you're saying, you want a break from constant threat, to exercise your mind with a good hard puzzle that rewards you further with more exploration, RE6 was kinda like a game of chess, you kill in order and move on, 5 was just, aim and blow shit up, TEW2 focuses more on basic instinct, you there to redeem yourself and find your daughter, all you need is things to help you in your goal, resources, ammo, more weapons, it doesn't make it any less survival horror then say, Outlast which doesn't have combat, but it does have constant stress and trial and error route hunting, Amnesia is a great horror game like outlast, but has very taxing puzzles, RE7 had a few, but the game was too short and seemed like it ended when it should have got good, exploring the boat after killing everything was just trolling, it seemed good then it was the credits.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Pffrbt: I don't believe that I misinterpreted anything, especially considering that you don't explain how I did so.

Besides, what you have described as "survival horror" to another user is practically Zork.

Avatar image for ntstambo2
ntstambo2

I've never played the first one but it seems like the perfect game for what I'm looking for right now...good combat, open world, rpg elements and horror. Plus it's only $34.99 on cdkeys with all the dlc included. Hard to pass up on that.

Avatar image for ssabrewolf
ssabrewolf

@ntstambo2: where did you get this for 34.99? on play station store i only see $59.99?

Avatar image for RaveNRolla
RaveNRolla

@ntstambo2: i can only advise it and i'm sure you'll enjoy it. i call it a modern re4, and the evil within 2 comes even closer to that in my opinion.

don't know if you read the review but you probably shouldn't because talking about the evil within 2 at all spoils a lot of stuff you shouldn't know about if you still want to be surprised by the 1st.

Avatar image for RaveNRolla
RaveNRolla

i played all weekend and i'm in chapter 10 or 11 now. i could probably write a wall of text about my findings, things that i miss from the 1st game and things that are new and improved, but one of the things that definitely stood out for me this time was Sebastian himself. He feels a lot more real this time, thus it's much easier to relate to him, because he is questioning the events that are happening. while it was very common in the 1st game to have a wave of blood come out of nowhere and suddenly wake up in a totally new environment (which is basically fine, since STEM's not the reality and the protagonist is also aware of this this time), Sebastian now asks questions "how did i get here? all i remember was a wave of blood and suddenly i'm here?!". also he is supposed to find his daughter which has secretly been used, but lost by the Mobius Organization for THAT organization. obviously the 1st thing that comes to mind to me was "sure and they are just gonna let you keep her after you found her". Sebastian asks the same questions, not trusting them at all. and this trend is consistent throughout what i played. there were a lot of times when Sebastian would just put in words what i was thinking at the moment, and not a lot of characters in games (or movies or tv shows) do that.

Avatar image for wretch1d
Wretch1d

Pretty good so far only about an hour in atm, a few differences from the first, melee is slightly different mapped to the right trigger on XB and is slower so far, materials and upgrades systems now and a map with points to head too instead of just stages.

Avatar image for urbanman2004
urbanman2004

Can't wait to get a chance to play this title. First one was in between meh and ok

Avatar image for urbanman2004
urbanman2004

Can't wait to get a chance to play this title. First one was in between meh and ok

Avatar image for snarf24
snarf24

Does anyone know if this is going to be an enhanced game for Xbox One X?

Avatar image for usaoligarchy
UsaOligarchy

@snarf24: They've already announced support for the x1x.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@snarf24: Doubtful. Tango Gameworks is the one-size-fits-all kind of developer.

Maybe the computer version might have mods, if Tango develops it with Steam Workshop in mind, or even the "Creation Club".

Avatar image for usaoligarchy
UsaOligarchy

@Gelugon_baat: It's easy to google stuff instead of guessing nonsense. BUt, that's just me. Fact check fanBOY, it works.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@usaoligarchy: Whatever there is, it is just no more than a promise that has yet to be fulfilled by Tango Gameworks.

The Evil Within 2 More Info

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  • First Released Oct 12, 2017
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Tango Gameworks returns with the sequel to The Evil Within, a pulse-pounding maze of nightmares mixed in with gorgeous, memorable settings.
    8.6
    Average Rating135 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate The Evil Within 2
    Developed by:
    Tango Gameworks
    Published by:
    Bethesda Softworks
    Genre(s):
    3D, Action, Adventure, Survival
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language