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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 nadsat-77
Nadsat-77

This game is a breath of fresh air. I can't get enough survival horror, so sad they are so effing rare.

Also, no loot boxes....YAY!

Avatar image for cherub1000
Cherub1000

@nadsat-77: did you try outlast 2? I gotta sleep with the lights on after that!

Avatar image for nadsat-77
Nadsat-77

@cherub1000: No i did not, its on my soon to get list though. Heard good things about it.

Avatar image for cherub1000
Cherub1000

@nadsat-77: to be honest I'd recommend the first outlast and dlc. Even though the second is still good it's a lot more trial and error which can occasionally get frustrating.

Avatar image for nadsat-77
Nadsat-77

@cherub1000: I'm mainly a console player so i'll probably get the bundle that includes both games for the PS4. I'll start with the first one. Thanks for the advice.

Avatar image for Kyrylo
Kyrylo

@cherub1000: Outlast isn't survival horror though.

Avatar image for cherub1000
Cherub1000

@Kyrylo: I guess, still great creepy fun though!

Avatar image for Kyrylo
Kyrylo

@cherub1000: Well it's very enjoyable horror walking simulator with stealth elemenents.

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DonJuanCorleone

Damn, I know it says possible spoilers but that scare with the mirror would have been great to experience in game and not via a review. It didnt even need to be in your video really.

Avatar image for Karmazyn
Karmazyn

No microtransactions? Weird, are we still in 2017?

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TiringPillow

@Karmazyn: Bet it has a season pass though lol

Avatar image for Kyrylo
Kyrylo

@tiringpillow: so far none ;)

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JustPlainLucas

I'm probably going to end up buying this game, but the one thing that bothers me is continued usage of crafting systems in these games. I get crafting for unique ammo and things of that nature, but limiting the ammo and health you find because you need to find two or three items to make ammo or health kits is just busywork to me. Crafting can get distracting at times, and I'd rather not deal with it. Just give me the ammo and health kits so I can go about my business.

Avatar image for gothsalvation
gothsalvation

This game is a hard 5 in my books. Average to say the least... I was expecting a big leap over the first game but the only thing improved are the visuals (and maybe the story), everything else is pretty much the same.

The first game wanted to be RE4 so badly and failed so hard at doing it, now this one wants to be The Last of Us and it does emulated that game "nicely" but if I wanted to play TLoUS I would go play just TLoUS.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@gothsalvation: The Last of Us has a CPU-controlled companion. In this one, the player character is alone.

Resident Evil 4 does not even have crafting. The first Evil Within already has crafting.

Those are just a couple of differences between the games you mentioned. Have you even done your research before you wrote all that apples-and-oranges shit?

Avatar image for gothsalvation
gothsalvation

@Gelugon_baat: The game is not a carbon copy of The Last of Us neither RE4. I over exaggerate but that doesn't mean they're pretty similar games. It uses RE4 gameplay as it's core and many mechanics of other games duck tapped around it. It's just like saying Dead Space didn't took many elements from RE4 just because it's set in space... Apples and oranges, right?

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@gothsalvation: Which core gameplay and which mechanics? Please don't mention basic things like the third-person camera, shooting, inventory management and crafting - they are so pervasive in video games that they are not unique to either The Last of Us and Resident Evil 4, even before these came out.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@gothsalvation: "but the only thing improved are the visuals"

So what you're telling us is you haven't played the game? Cool.

"the first game wanted to be RE4 so badly and failed so hard at doing it, now this one wants to be The Last of Us"

Further proving my point. TEW2 plays like TEW, the game you claim is Resi4 (I don't recall match burning, perk upgrades, and stealth kills in Resi4 and I could name more examples)

But back onto the sequel. it has a hub, much like the older Silent Hill games with side objectives. Neither are in TLoU. .

Your opinion is garbage! And should be ashamed for posting that nonsense.

Avatar image for gothsalvation
gothsalvation

@RSM-HQ: So let me get this straight. The game uses RE4 gameplay as it's core, slap a bunch of half assed mechanics from other games and sudenly is not a ripoff?

Also what original SH game uses a hub..? Have you even play one of those? Not even the newest ones (Homecoming, Origins and Downpour) have this. And my opinion is garbage? Lol k

Comparing TEW to SH is just insulting. You sound like one of those kids who thinks PT is the greatest "horror" game ever and also the "best" Silent Hill.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@gothsalvation: "So let me get this straight. The game uses RE4 gameplay as it's core, slap a bunch of half assed mechanics from other games and sudenly is not a ripoff?"

Seems you're far too self-indulgent to grasp what I posted, if you can't look at the bigger picture on what TEW games have, and do to have a different approach. Then, everything could be a rip-off through your transparent eyes. In that very way I guess The Last of Us is a Gears of War knock-off yes?

You have some messed up double standards/

"Comparing TEW to SH is just insulting. You sound like one of those kids who thinks PT is the greatest "horror" game ever and also the "best" Silent Hill."

Insulting to the noob who's never played the game, how ironic.

And; well. P.T. is pretty good, unlike The Last of Us, it is Survival Horror.

Avatar image for gothsalvation
gothsalvation

@RSM-HQ:

"In that very way I guess The Last of Us is a Gears of War knock-off yes?"

What kind of dumb retarded analogy is this one? Those games aren't even in same fucking genre. My god do you even read what you type??
AT LEAST TRY. "In that very way I guess Call of Duty is a Quake knock-off yes?" See? Very easy, if you gonna pull a strawman at least do it right.

"And; well. P.T. is pretty good, unlike The Last of Us, it is Survival Horror."

A hallway jumpscare simulator a good survival horror? Yeah.. I'm done with this "argument". The fan base for this game it's even worst than Sonic one. Keep enjoying your generic shit, it was clearly made for self indulgent normies like yourself.

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Nadsat-77

@RSM-HQ: lol nicely rekted

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Itzsfo0

@gothsalvation: to each their own

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Josefo

A 9 is better suited for this game.

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JEF8484

@josefo: easily the most underrated game this year.

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RSM-HQ

@josefo: An 8s fine, and I'm loving the game. So long as they don't come back to trash it like they did the original I don't mind

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Spartan-1657

@RSM-HQ: Sorry, what do you mean "come back to trash it"?

Did the dev trash the first game after it was out or something?

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Spartan-1657: Think you misunderstood_

I'm on about Gamespot, they gave it an ok review score, and a few months back before the sequels release did a summarization of how bad a game it is 'without much merit as well' may I add.

Avatar image for ronaldmcreagan
ronaldmcreagan

I sure hope they fixed the framerate on this one. The framerate on the first Evil Within looked like it was running at 15fps. Still to this day, it t is the most choppy game I've ever played on the PS4.

It would be nice if Gamespot actually told us the framerate when they do reviews. Is that really too much to ask?

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martintule24

@ronaldmcreagan: digital foundry for one on YouTube and it's good

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Bread_or_Decide

Now where's my Aliens Isolation.

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Subaru1980

@Bread_or_Decide: FOX, SEGA and Creative Assembly should bring a sequel. Too bad, it's not going to happen.

Alien Isolation is a million time better than this year's Alien Covenant.

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PlaystationZone

Never got into evil within I might get it one day to see if it’s good and if I find first one good I buy this game as well.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@playstationzone: You might want to watch someone else play the first game, or at least read a synopsis.

The sequel immediately shows the STEM contraption, has Kidman appear right in the intro scenes and such other things that people who knew about the first game would recognize immediately - but anyone else would be wondering what the hell is going on.

There is in-game documentation, but that means you have to do a lot of reading when you could be playing the game instead.

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PlaystationZone

@Gelugon_baat: thanks for tip

Avatar image for cboye18
cboye18

Some reviewers say that the game lost some of its identity and that it doesn't know what it tries to be, either an survival horror or an action game (unfortunately it tends to be more of the latter). The reason to why RE4 was excellent is that it managed to strike the right balance between the two, which is also where RE5 and RE6 failed at.

I think I'll wait for a deep sale for this one.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@cboye18: For me this has been a very faithful sequel that builds on the original. Not all for the better as I personally feel side objectives remove some of the core tension, but otherwise very satisfied, and jumping straight into the next difficulty.

Avatar image for Itzsfo0
Itzsfo0

@cboye18: I enjoyed RE4, but RE7 to me is more enjoyable. It leans more towards one aspect then the other...more heavy handed there are moments for me in RE7, that NEITHER RE4, The Evil WIthin, The Evil Within 2, nor Alien: Isolation come close to (the jump-scare, cheap thrills) do it quite well, that was the main problem with RE5 it wasnt a bad performing game, it was just more of a slap-stick Gears of War-style action/shooter. It lost its "RE" identity, for better or worse...and RE6...well that was just a giant QTE-6-hour-joke. It looked good (but you know the saying about judging a book by its cover) RE7 feels like the P.T demo (for obvious reasons) DONE right, and finished. I know it comes down to personal opinion, but I would take RE7 over RE4 at this point...and I love RE4, played the game repeatedly - just such a fun game to get into and it does strike a good balance...but RE7 leans more towards the actual "survival horror" aspect its not as well balanced as RE4, but it does the horror/survival aspect much better. Be it graphics (modern age) or just the tint of atmosphere it does it quite well...I was hoping for The Evil WIthin 2, to be a bigger leap forward I dont wanna be all negative and cynical so far its not a bad game, and in some ways an improvement but...I also feel unlike RE-titles...The Evil Within 2, should come with a disclaimer "need to play first game, in order to understand the little subtelties" lol...or for layman's "need to play first game, in order to understand what in the **** is going on" LOL

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JEF8484

@Itzsfo0: They definitely revitalized the series, which is great. I cant wait till 8. hope its the RE2 to RE1, if you follow me.

Avatar image for Kyrylo
Kyrylo

@Itzsfo0: Honestly I dunno where this obsession with RE7 comes from. I played it once and it was like weird mash of multiple FPS horror games without doing anything particularly good on it's own.

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@cboye18: Sounds like they learned nothing from the first game's problems.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@cboye18: It's not really scary, so I wouldn't even call it a "horror game". In fact, Sebastian seems hardly scared by what he is seeing. Rather, he seems more frustrated. At most, he's just apprehensive.

That said, I don't know what those reviewers were expecting. What I have seen of this game is that it is quite far removed from its predecessor in its pacing - which is good. The previous game plods so much.

But indeed, you should wait for a deep sale. ;)

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freeformrulz

Move over outlast 2, evil within is here

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RSM-HQ

@freeformrulz: Good, I'm sick of Stealth Horror! :D

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freeformrulz: They are apples and oranges. :\

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 Rating132 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate The Evil Within 2
    Developed by:
    Tango Gameworks
    Published by:
    Bethesda Softworks
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, Survival, 3D, Action
    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