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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 gamestar73
Gamestar73

Backtracking!! No thanks!!

Avatar image for sleepnsurf
sleepnsurf

@gamestar73: Agree, that automatically tells me I will never play it. MY time is more important than backtracking lol.

Avatar image for mxerdude
mxerdude

Damn it. October is such a packed month full of games coming out that I have no clue where to throw my money.

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

@mxerdude: Yeah, Wolfenstein in 15 days, great. I will have no cash for it.

Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

@mxerdude: **** it, let's just buy themall.

Avatar image for Subaru1980
Subaru1980

@mxerdude: Agreed, it's madness with Shadow of War, The Evil Within 2, Assassin's Creed Origins and Wolfenstein the New Colossus. How to beath them in a month? :-)

Avatar image for Subaru1980
Subaru1980

The sequel looks a lot better than the original title. Let's be honest, EW1 was good but there were multiple issues starting with a boring main character and plot.

Here Sebastien looks fare more emotional, its his story this time and visually it looks really beautiful. Also great to see the guys at Tango focusing more on stealth like in EW1's two excellent DLCs with Kidman.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c0b07b32bf03

This makes me super happy. TEW is one of my favorite games this gen. Can't wait to play this.

Avatar image for lordbeefjerky
LordBeefJerky

@reduc_ab_: I totally agree! Very underrated game!

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Also, I have been hearing people say that there is a lot less funneling like how it was in the previous game. The player character can veer off the obvious paths and be rewarded/punished with optional scripted sequences.

On the other hand, enemies do seem to spawn in automatically, usually from some distance away from the player character.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Gelugon_baat: Random spawns was in the original game as well, nothing new on that note.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@RSM-HQ: The previous game did not spawn enemies as much though.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Gelugon_baat: "Not as much" Hmm? well the first game did quite a bit and I'm playing the current one right now. So personally I disagree -heavily-

With that, you get more enemies at once it would seem, first game had limits of around eight max chasing you in an area, while this game I've had eleven which threw me as a surprise. But overall the frequency of random spawns is about the same.

Once I've had a few playthroughs and played with the different difficulty settings I may have a different option but on normal it's not that much different to TEW.

One of the first games favored qualities was the unpredictability of loot and enemy situations

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@RSM-HQ: Well, it does have to spawn more in order to populate the semi-open world with enemies, does it not?

Now, I realize that I might have been comparing apples with oranges. The respawns in the previous game are close to monster-closet situations. The respawns in this one are closer to the open-world shenanigans that are seen in Bethesda Softworks' game than they do monster-closets.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Gelugon_baat: I wouldn't call TEW2 and open world, it's more like a larger map. Think of the Town area in the Silent Hill games and you'll have a better idea.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@RSM-HQ: Do note that I did not say that The Evil Within 2 is not open-world.

It is indeed closer to the earlier Silent Hill games, but I don't believe that scrounging for things is a major part of the gameplay in the Silent Hill titles.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Gelugon_baat: Scouging for hidden weapons was a thing in Silent Hill, but certainly not pinned as an objective with plot concerns. Even in the original SH exploration in the town was pretty cool. Playing this hits some Silent Hill nostalgia for me, that's for sure.

Avatar image for NTM23
NTM23

I'm excited. I have never preordered a game, to be honest, but I just did for this game several hours ago, and now I only have to wait for forty minutes and then I can play it.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

I like how Sebastian tries to remember things from the STEM environments of the previous game, but he sometimes seems to forget that things that he is seeing has happened before.

For example, there are places which appear to to be collapsing into the earth, like what happened in the previous game, and he still goes "what the hell?".

On the other hand, he's a heck lot more cautious now - you might notice that he is a lot more careful in putting some distance between him and any human-looking person which he comes across.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Gelugon_baat: Maybe because when the world collapses he still feels it as though it's reality, falling still hurts and coming at a whim is still unpredictable because it's unnatural.

He can still die in STEM, "what the Hell?" makes more sense and believable than someone like Nathan Drake saying a stupid joke after collapsing.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@RSM-HQ: Drake's joke is silly of course, but he has the excuse of being in the situations that he has many times already.

Sebastian is in STEM the second time around of course, but he should have known that crazy shit happens enough that he should not be surprised anymore.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Gelugon_baat: Same name different world, take my word in that it's like comparing the T-Virus in Resi to the G-Virus. It's all "crazy shit" as you call it but this is ranked up to 11/10. Even does nods to the original game and shows how much worse things are in the sequel.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@RSM-HQ: I don't know how I would be able to see it as worse. I am too jaded for differences in presentation and aesthetics to mean anything to me.

Unless, of course, you are implying that there are major plot twists.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Gelugon_baat: I loved a lot of the things in the original. Safe Head, Ruvik and the Mutant Dog being highlights. But this game has a lot going for it, not sure how far you are but settle in and enjoy Baat :)

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@RSM-HQ: Well, I for one did not like a lot of things in the original, likely because I focus on the gameplay and I am non-plussed about the sophistication of the gameplay in the first; it could have been better, and it seems better in this game.

As for the hideous things in that first game (and the second too), I have seen so many of them in other games and even other media. I am too jaded to be impressed.

P.S. Safe-head isn't the first abomination that can regenerate from just a small part anyway. One of the earliest that I could recall is a tumor-consuming freak that can regenerate from a finger in X-Files.

Avatar image for Kyrylo
Kyrylo

@Gelugon_baat: I think it has to do with the idea, that first STEM was very unstable, while second supposed to be much more stable and safe einvironment.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Kyrylo: Sebastian wouldn't know that. All the impression that he made regarding what he knows about the STEM system is that it is an abomination.

Avatar image for naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

Is the hardest difficulty setting an absolute troll this time?

Is there a NewGame+?

Avatar image for videogameninja
videogameninja

@naryanrobinson: That Akumu mode from the first was a real nightmare. A breeze could hit you and you would be dead.

-STREET FIGHTER MODE? NINJA APPROVED-

Avatar image for arnna
arnna

@naryanrobinson:

It was very possible with persistence. Ridiculously satisfying too.

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santinegrete

@arnna: what u unlocked after completing it?

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@santinegrete: Nothing, but if you skipped Nightmare you get the Brass Knuckles.

It's a punch with high possibility of high critical. Can beat the early bosses with a few swings.

Avatar image for juxax
juxax

@naryanrobinson: wasn't that bad, you just had to find all the keys early on and reroll the lockers to get what u wanted by reloading, the bit that pissed me off the most in the whole game was fighting that boss who had a safe for a head.

Avatar image for arnna
arnna

@juxax: tbh that part was one of the easier parts on the highest difficulty

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@arnna: @juxax: I agree. Safe-head becomes quite simple to take down once the player figures out its patterns. I have seen players spend excess resources or use environmental hazards to farm it for gel too.

Avatar image for NTM23
NTM23

@naryanrobinson: You can actually read about the difficulties here. And yes, there's a new game plus mode.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@naryanrobinson: Jean-Luc and Tay recently showed almost two hours of the highest difficulty setting. It seems to populate the levels with more enemies. They also hit much harder.

They don't seem smarter though.

Avatar image for Mkeegs79
Mkeegs79

I am stoked for this game. I really enjoyed the last one :)

Avatar image for deactivated-5b0457a4d6084

Once again no PS4 Pro support from Bethesda at launch like Prey that is Bull Crap.

Avatar image for sleepnsurf
sleepnsurf

@Eddie619: Shouldn't have bought a PRO then. Probably worse frame rate that the slim too lol.

Avatar image for ragnarocking
Ragnarocking

@sleepnsurf: How can it be worse fps with better hardware?

With boost mode you get solid 30 FPS, with slim you still have dips below.

Avatar image for deactivated-5b0457a4d6084

@sleepnsurf: It’s a good system I traded in my launch PS4 for $175 for it when it launched and got lucky the month before and got a 55 inch LGB6 for $1699 total.

Avatar image for aross2004
aross2004

@Eddie619: The game looks and runs great regardless. Get over it.

Online
Avatar image for girlusocrazy
GirlUSoCrazy

Loved the first, I need this game

Avatar image for videogameninja
videogameninja

@girlusocrazy: From most of the reviews I've read it seems that while this sequel doesn't blow the original out of the water it manages to improve upon the build of the first meaning that if you liked The Evil Within than this will be just as enjoyable.

-IF IT AIN'T BROKE... NINJA APPROVED-

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@videogameninja: The improvements are noticeable in this sequel but they don't make it apparent. For one the game just runs much smoother and movement is far more precise.

Avatar image for naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

All I want to know is, is the PC port a mess again?

I understand they switched engines for this game.

I need to know if it's playable before I can get it.

Avatar image for juxax
juxax

@naryanrobinson: it's the same engine. but a better port.

Avatar image for speed45823
speed45823

@naryanrobinson: Nope. The game runs and looks great and is well optimized. There's even an FOV slider now :P Overall, great improvement from the original game.

Avatar image for JEF8484
JEF8484

@naryanrobinson: everything I've seen from videos, etc indicates its a pretty good port this time.

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):
    Survival, 3D, Action, Adventure
    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