THE EVIL WITHIN 2 [Review]: Shattered Dreams.
The short and curly version of the rather lengthy synopsis for The Evil Within 2 is that former Krimson City police detective Sebastian Castellanos has basically drunken himself stupid over the three years that have passed since the first game. Mobius agent and Sebastian-softie Juli Kidman arrives to inform Sebastian that his daughter Lily may still be alive, but she’s trapped in the STEM world (now known as The Union) and Sebastian needs to go save her. The catch is that Lily is actually the core of STEM and whoever controls the core has an unimaginable amount of power. Unfortunately STEM is currently under the firm and bloody grasp of artist turned diabolically insane super villain Stefano Valentini and he seems to be the only lead regarding Lily’s whereabouts.
I’m not ashamed to say that I was stuck on one villain in The Evil Within 2 for about 4 days total. Last night, it took me 2 straight hours to defeat a flame-throwing and Bible-thumping maniac. I do my best not to play on the easiest setting of a video game and that is especially difficult when it comes to survival horror (or Devil May Cry, which has an AI that is just littered with cheap assholes).
If you’re like me, then you’ve probably forgotten what happened in the first game since a ton of stuff, video game-wise and in the real world, has happened over a very eventful three years. As long as you are somewhat familiar with the first game, then it takes only a short amount of time before The Evil Within 2 totally engrosses you with its acid spewing and corpse feasting gameplay.
The sequel thrives on not giving you enough ammo to do fucking anything. You know how you go to use the restroom and try to wipe only to realize that the toilet paper roll is either empty or it has that flimsy little strip left on the roll that isn’t even big enough to dispose of your thinnest patch of dingleberries? That is how The Evil Within 2 approaches ammunition. There are no zombies in this game. What remain is this flesh eating, intestine freeing, and bum rushing horde of frenzied lunacy known as The Lost that is borderline 28 Days Later, but mostly just savage incarnate. In comparison to The Haunted of the first game, The Lost hollers and claws at everything even if no one is around them. If you don’t use aim assist, then taking these guys out is a pain in the ass — let alone some bosses who are downright impossible to beat unless you have aim assist turned on. So aiming isn’t great, but mostly manageable and the camera is difficult to work with at times causing you to run into walls and prevent you from successfully fleeing from enemies or attacks.
Another issue is upgrading and leveling-up since it takes the same approach as ammunition. You have to find weapon parts to build and adjust your weapon inventory. Meanwhile you are rewarded green gel when you defeat tougher enemies and discover red gel in hidden areas as a means to purchase stronger upgrades to health, stamina, and recovery. While these materials aren’t exactly scarce, it feels like a bit of a rip-off when you spend so much time trying to defeat an enemy only to receive a few hundred green gel; or, you feel like you’ve been breaking boxes forever only to find a couple gunpowder for spare bullets and only enough weapon parts for a bullet or two.
The storyline, visuals, and execution of just how frightening some of these enemies are really escalate The Evil Within 2 into the “must-experience” category. The Evil Within franchise has always felt like the hurts-to-look-at inbred cousin of Resident Evil; like so hideously grotesque that they lock it in the toolshed or feed it slop between floorboards as it shits itself to death in the basement yet can’t deny there’s a striking resemblance to their already well-established family tree. Entering STEM is like A Clockwork Orange meets John Carpenter’s The Thing version of the experimental military technology used to enter the dream world in Inception combined with a more fucked up version of the nightmare sequences in Max Payne. As an example, the female remains of Stefano’s victims fuse together into this towering, giant circular saw swinging, and constantly laughing beast with multiple heads; each one with a different facial expression.
Anima is the scariest enemy to face. She’s like a phantom and is generally slow moving unless you get too close. If you played Little Nightmares, Anima is reminiscent of the mirror battle with The Lady at the end of the game. She sings Clair de Lune the creepiest way imaginable, which gets louder the closer she gets to you. What makes this even more eerie is that her singing comes through your controller (on PS4). The flame engulfed creatures known as Disciples are the worst since their blood is lava and they take absolutely forever to kill. The game takes an even deeper and more disturbing dive into unsettling territory in its second half, which almost seems to inject Sebastian into the bowels of Hell. While he’s a bitch to play against, Stefano is the coolest and most original character of the game. His “art” is a repeated loop of his victim’s kill blow forever playing over and over again synced to classical music and a geyser of blood that paints the loop in an impressive display.
I’ve been playing The Evil Within 2 for nearly 20-hours and I still haven’t beaten it. It is frustrating, but rewarding when you do finally beat that boss you’ve been stuck on for days. I swapped out Cuphead to play this, which is kind of like trading an ulcer for a brain tumor. The Evil Within 2 isn’t a perfect game since its controls are clunky when you need to rely on them most and it seems to purposely provide you with as little as possible to survive. Yes, this is what survival horror is all about, but at the same time when you’ve died at least 50 times in a row having nothing but three bullets, a smoke bolt, and a broken out of commission flamethrower and stealth attacks only result in your face being melted away then it becomes more than a little infuriating.
Released during the month of Halloween, The Evil Within 2 is perfect to play with the lights off at night if you have that sudden urge to clench your cheeks together as tightly as possible as a defense mechanism of the horrors that lurk around every corner. 4.25/5 Bibles.