The Evil Within 2 - Talk about an identity crisis

The Evil Within, one of my favorite games in the year it came out. Still one of my favorite games today. It was this kinda super-Japanese horror game which somehow wasn't scary that combined a feeling of Resident Evil 4 with this backdrop of sharing someone else' mental breakdown. It was janky, the story was convoluted, and the voice acting was mostly bad. But it had heart.

I'm not the kind of person who looks past a janky video game just because I happen to like it. I can see the flaws while also enjoying the game. I mean, after all, what a concept right? Psychological Stealth Based Survival Horror Action Shooter. It might not be the first of its kind, it might not be original at all in fact, but it was certainly new to me.

It was a game filled with mystery. Sure, the story was super convoluted when you encounter the collectables and see that, okay, so there's a cult, there's the Illuminati secret New World Order running experiments across the globe, there's a super-powered serial killer on the loose, and, oh yeah, we're all stuck inside of his head. Then you take into account Sebastian's backstory and his missing wife and dead child and see that he's been headed down a dark path, even though that aspect never makes its way into the main story, only the backdrop of collectables. But it was so interesting. I was enamored and I couldn't put it down.

I consider myself quite the critic(I mean look! I have my own website! I'm credible now dad!), but sometimes I have difficulty playing a game more than once. But with The Evil Within, there was no issue jumping back in to tackle New Game+, or to go after all of the collectables - mainly because I wanted to read them and fully absorb the narrative, and just to have fun playing the game again. It was great.

But the game didn't get great reviews so I thought, shit, this will probably never get the sequel it deserves, right? What are the chances? I mean the DLC was fucking awesome and easily the best part of the game since they flipped the script and doubled down on it being a SURVIVAL HORROR game, of which the first game somewhat lacked since it 1, wasn't scary, and 2, ammo was plentiful(At least on normal difficulty. Sue me).

But then, lo and behold, they announced The Evil Within 2. Not directed by Shinji Mikami anymore, but that's okay because he didn't even direct the DLC of the first game and those were amazing. Not only was the game announced, it was coming out IN JUST A FEW SHORT MONTHS! No waiting for years to get my hands on it. I could have it in no time at all.

And I did get my hands on it. And, well, this is my story...

The Evil Within 2.


The game starts up with Sebastian in a bar. He's drinking himself silly because, oh boy, what a few years he's had. After the events of the first game, it seems he's a mostly discredited former detective at the Krimson City Police Department, because, well, lots of people died and his only explanation was "a super powered psycho-killer installed by the New World Order did it!" which, it turns out, was not a Number One answer. Sorry Steve Harvey.

Sebastian, falling back into his old ways.

In walks Juli Kidman, former junior detective that worked under Sebastian before and during the events of the first game. She was a plant by Mobius, the shadow organization behind the events of the first game, sent to watch Sebastian closely because his wife went looking into the murder of their daughter, got too deep, and ended up missing. Kidman was there to keep an eye on Sebastian that he didn't start digging up old graves. So there's bad blood right away.

 Sebastian was not pleased to see her, as he blames her for just about everything that happened. Juli assures him that she does care about him, but her organization must protect themselves and remain in the shadows lest the world learns of their existence, and that she has an offer for him. It turns out, Mobius was behind the murder of Sebastian's daughter, Lily. Except, it wasn't a murder. It was a kidnapping covered up with a house fire. She's still alive, but she's inside of STEM, the shared mind collective that connects people's mind to that of a host brain, or, a core, that allows them to live in a subconscious virtual reality of Mobius design.

They need Sebastian to come in and save his daughter, because if you die in the game, you die in real life, for real this time. He's essentially drugged and kidnapped because he wants to murder Mobius for being super dicks, which is reasonable, and is delivered to Mobius HQ, where you see some familiar faces from The Assignment and The Consequence DLC's from the first game.

Speaking on that note, Sebastian was, for whatever reason, redesigned for this game. No one else was. Juli Kidman remains the same, and any other cameo appearance remains unchanged. For some reason only Sebastian was made to look kinda goofy compared to his cool smooth badass looking self from the first game. I'm not a fan.

Sebastian isn't happy about it, but his daughter is still alive, and he's gotta do what a dad's gotta do and so he agrees to once again go back into STEM, this time STEM 2.0, a much refined and supposedly better version of the first STEM, and finish this once and for all.

He's put in his milk tub, jacked into the machine, says his goodbyes and is submerged into a world very much like our own, but as he will learn very shortly, twisted and shaped by a sadistic mind.

And that is where the game opens.

Getting into the meat and potatoes of the review, I will start with this introduction sequence. And I will start by saying, I didn't like it. It wasn't as snappy as the first game's fast paced what the fuck is going on followed by an excellent intro sequence created by Gary Numan. It was, indeed, a Long Way Down from the first game in that The Evil Within opens with confusion and only builds from there. It plays up the idea that you don't know if what's happening is real or not. Instead, the sequel starts out by basically confirming "Everything you are about to see is the product of a neurological link to a sadistic psychopathic murderer, compounded by bleeding edge technology which manifests these subconscious desires into a fully realized 3D world where, this might be a simulation, but if you die here you die for real, so be careful".

Suddenly all of the mystery is gone. And it was gone for me. I was confused by the first several hours of the game because Sebastian will see something crazy and go "No way, this can't be real" and I'm like "SEBASTIAN THEY JUST FUCKING TOLD YOU THIS WASN'T REAL, YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN STEM, WHAT THE FUCK".

But before any of that happened, once you get out of the flashback intro sequence, you are plunged into this new world. And my god, it's beautiful.

Ordinary World.

Say what you will about what you don't like about this game, the graphics are beautiful. You wake up inside of an old rickety house and figure out your bearings before you head out into the world, and once you walk out the front door you're hit by the overwhelming sense of atmosphere. Fun fact, I am a huge sucker for lighting in video games. I don't care what graphic style your game has, hyper realistic, 8bit, whatever, it doesn't matter. The quickest way into my heart is through lighting. And oh boy what a fantastic lighting system this game has.

The mood of the moment washes over you with this atmospheric gloom in the air, a deep blue aura emanating from around you, the darkness of the day slowly coming to a close. The surrounding areas and their overgrown and unkempt bushes and trees pouring out into the street creating this sense of a civilization long gone. A lonely stretch of road laid out before you, leading you to some surely terrifying unknown.

It reminds me quite a bit of The Last Of Us.

That's when you make first contact. You see a woman wildly running from across a street into a nearby house. She's erratic, so naturally you follow her and walk into the house. As you make your way inside and approach the sounds of, well, violence coming from within, you see the woman trying to feed someone who still appears to be of able mind and body, but tied to a kitchen chair. But he's resisting because what the fuck and she goes berserk and murders him. Why Sebastian didn't try to hop in and stop it, I don't know. But anyway, the woman comes out all piss and vinegar and tries to kill Sebastian, which he is having absolutely none of, and so you shoot her until she stops being alive.

Even though Sebastian was given a mostly vague but still kind of informative situation report on what's happening inside of this new STEM, he seems to confirm that these events are just like the ones at Beacon Mental Hospital, of which the first game took place in. He calls Juli to tell her this and she's like, uh, duh, you motherfucker, we already told you shit was bad, and he's all, well shit, this script must have been rewritten because I still say completely fucking obvious shit which makes no sense. Then they metaphorically fist-bump and you are allowed to explore around.

In the distance is the town of Union, a virtual representation of some sort of highly condensed generified American town based on the Illuminati's research. As you make your way out, you see a lot of movement up ahead. It seems there's a whole bunch of creatures roaming around the streets. The game opens up some here to allow you to try out your stealth skills, as the sequel retains the central stealth mechanic from the first.

Taking out some of the creatures and moving forward, you see a cutscene of a man and his bodyguard running into a nearby facility for protection. The bodyguard gets ganked and the man flees. You can use this opportunity to sneak by or stealth kill your way to the door. I stealth killed everyone because I gotta get my green gel on and get my upgrades.

Making your way inside you meet this individual in a dramatic cutscene stand-off where you eventually introduce yourselves. Sebastian has had a bit of a personality change and sounds like someone trying really hard to be the "hard boiled police detective" and so he's constantly antagonizing people. Honestly speaking it's kind of off-putting. His character is pretty annoying for most of the early game. And since his voice actor was replaced he's now the most super-Canadian accented person in the world, which, to be fair, we don't know where Krimson City was, but I'm pretty sure it was America. All in all not too big of a deal, but still worth noting.

Open World RPG?

Speaking of which, after the cutscene ends this game goes into a... DIALOG system. That's right, this game has some sort of dialog system in place where you can ask people questions about things if you really really wanted to know stuff. It doesn't sound so bad at first, but the game from here on out opens up into it's true form, which is that of an open world RPG. And thus begins a lot of the game's problems.

The mystery of the world slowly fades with each and every discovery as you are able to talk to people in a decent amount of length about their mission, what this place is, what happened, etc, etc. I'm sure ultimately I'm just nitpicking at problems but coming out of the first game with a grand sense of mystery and going into this game of "Yep, here's about everything", it's a bit jolting.

Especially since for the next several chapters and potentially 20+ hours of the game, you're going to be wandering around several large playable open world segments. They are filled with collectables, side missions, lots of loot and resources, and monsters a plenty.

The issue comes from the fact that this game has a lot of good going for it, but it has so much baggage as well. Quite frankly, I'll summarize this by saying this game did not need to be open world. Easy some of the worst parts of this game come from the directionless wandering around and managing a stamina gauge that you can't upgrade very far at the beginning. Not to mention Sebastian's stealth crouch is agonizingly slow without upgrades.

A proud dad and his son Warden together after years apart.

I will say once more, this game is beautiful. The environments you explode in Union are really brought to life with the graphics and amazing ambient lighting system in this game. So it's strange for me to say that it's the worst part, but, quite frankly, it is. You're world can look as beautiful as possible, but if there's nothing to do in it, well, it's going to get boring quickly.

The game operates on the idea of "safe houses". Mobius built these structures in Union to act as a safe haven for their operatives for when shit hits the fan. They come equipped with a crafting table(Because yes, it has crafting), a coffee pot that fills your health to max before going on a cool-down, or rather heat-up timer (which I actually thought was pretty cute), and a mirror which you can utilize to go back to your K.C.P.D office and do things like analyze slides, which are collectables you find every once in a while that allow you to see a single image of something from Sebastian's past and reminisce with Kidman about it. While you're here, you can also upgrade your abilities just like in the last game by sitting in the hospital chair and being teleported to the plane of Nurse Tatiana, who is back for this game as well.

Nurse Tatiana was vulnerable to a Voice Actor change as well and as a result the impact is lessened. The new actress is fine but I miss the old Tatiana and her incredible deadpan delivery. You can talk to her and sometimes instead of saying one-offs here or there, she'll actually have full on discussions with Sebastian about the current events of the game. Who she even is is a mystery even in this game, but she always seems to imply she knows just what's going on. She's like Sebastian's subconscious come to life to offer impeccable words of wisdom, or warning. Or maybe she's just a piece of whatever remained of whatever the real Tatiana was inside of the first stem, and she became attached to Sebastian and remains with him after all of this time. We never find out, so we'll probably never know. What we do know however, is that she's still bae and that's all that matters.

Creature Discomforts

Unfortunately, unlike the first game, the creatures in this game lack any real interesting design. Upon first starting the game you are introduced to a recurring boss-type monster which has probably the raddest fucking design I've seen, and I fell in love with it immediately. However this game failed to understand that you don't start with a showstopper and the hype was lost after that, since very few enemies seemed to be anything more than "people, but spooky looking". That's not to say the creatures in this game looked bad or anything, but after your 400th "wax monster" it starts to get samey.

Scagdead WHO!?

Some notable monsters are the singing lady, whose name I'm not quite familiar with but she appears at random spots all around the open world singing a chilling lullaby and haunts Sebastian throughout most of the game. She can teleport him back to Beacon Mental Hospital and while you never see any familiar locations from the first game, you instead go through a small series of puzzles in order to escape once again and go back to "sub" reality.

Another monster include a gaseous creature of disturbing design who makes these horrible noises that are quite disturbing to be around. I have some family members who are prone to seizures and whenever they begin to seize out they make similar noises. So it was pretty fucking disturbing to be anywhere around those things. If they catch you they let out a siren scream which slowly drains your stamina until depleted which makes running away a bitch, and they themselves are quite agile and can catch your quickly.

Unfortunately, since the first game was centered around Ruben Victoriano(Ruvik) and his deep psychological fear of fire to do being horrible burned all over after some villagers tried to murder the fuck out of him as a child, you lose out on the ability to use matches to burn your foes to death. In the first Evil Within there was this fun mechanic where enemies would "hide" by pretending to be dead bodies, but you could throw a mach on them to instantly kill them, since they are all vulnerable to fire. This allows you to use such strategies as letting enemies group up into a large mass, shoot one in the knee to knock it down, and while it's surrounded, drop a match and ignite the entire group. It was quite fun and added a bit of a strategy to an otherwise simple game of "kill them before they kill you". But this is a new psychopath and he's not quite as afraid of fire as Ruvik, so that's not an option this time.

Stefano, artist, murderer, bad villain

Unfortunately another thing this game doesn't get as good as the first one is its villain. While I'm sure many people would argue with me that Ruvik was a good villain, I will make that statement anyway. He was a cliche in the sense that he was a psychopath who wants to murder people, but it was different because, while he did murder the fuck out of people in the real world, now that he's locked inside of STEM he's going so far beyond just "death" and that makes it a lot more sinister. People are locked away inside of STEM, endlessly tortured by Ruvik's subconscious tendencies simply come to life. You learn about how he was a genius from a very young age who used his talents to hurt and kill people, and how he teamed up with a scientist who helped him create STEM, and how that same scientist betrayed him by siding with Mobius and locking Ruvik into STEM as only a brain in a jar.

He bided his time and used his machine against them in an act of revenge while also attempting to escape into the body of a young man named Leslie Withers.


That's a lot going on right there. But Stefano... well, he's an artist. He's got a camera that allows him to create a time bubble around people he kills so that their death replays over and over and over again. His character amounts to "I want to escape STEM by stealing the power of the Core(Sebastian's daughter Lily) so that I can control it and have dominion over all who reside here". And that's all he ever amounts to. His character never has time to grow or adapt. You spend the entirety of The Evil Within reading about Ruvik, listening to his personal audio logs, hearing about his experiments and his plans for the world. Stefano on the other hand is just currrazzy.

And for the record, I'm not just comparing Stefano to Ruvik as a means of saying "no no no, THIS is why he's a bad villain" I'm merely using that as an example. Stefano isn't memorable in any way, and as a result doesn't really do much for me. Which brings us to our next point.

Multiple Antagonists, Linear Progression

The first game had one antagonist throughout. This game has multiple. Once they start dropping it's just one after the other until the game is over. Which I don't hate or anything, but the strange thing is, once Stefano is dealt with the game quickly starts feeling more like The Evil Within. The game takes a turn somewhere around the half-way mark where you begin this long trek down a linear path for hours and hours, no longer being thrown into a large but empty open world level. You go to all kinds of crazy locals and environments that aren't just "Smalltown U.S.A." and they really feel incredible.

The game begins to take advantage of the fact that it's all a virtual procession of a psycho killer and leaves a lot of the realm of reality or realistic looking familiarity and goes into bizarre locations that feel just as fucking daunting as they should have always been. And it's a wild ride from here throughout.

The End Begins

Somewhere near this linear change the game becomes awesome. Like I said earlier in the review, the worst parts of the game have to do with the open world and Stefano, and they seem to both disappear at the same time. Suddenly this is the game I was interested in playing and every second of my time is rewarded for doing so.

You find out quite a lot from the narrative, namely being that Moira was alive the whole time, and didn't exactly go missing, but rather learned the true nature of Lily's disappearance, and decided that if she'll never be able to go back to a normal life knowing the full truth, she joins up with Mobius so that at the very least she'll be able to be around her daughter. Furthermore, you are introduced to a new character, Esmeralda Torres, but you don't have much time to talk because you wake up in a shack being assaulted by creatures, and you and her must work together to fend them off.

Out of the frying pan, into the WHOA FUCK

The segment is easily one of my favorites as it harkens back to the segment from the first Evil Within where Sebastian and Joseph are attacked by waves and waves of enemies. And also the section at the beginning of Resident Evil 4 in the jungle where you must survive for a certain amount of time. It was very fun and surprising to see, especially since you spend the next little while hanging out with this new character who actually kind of seems like some sort of Evil Within version of Jill Valentine.

You two must work together to sneak by or clear out an area filled with a new type of monsters, chitinous, armored-up individuals who burst into flame every 10 or so seconds, so try to stealth kill them carefully or else you'll be repelled and look like an idiot. After doing so you make your way to her hideout where she has a box filled to the brim with C4 plastic explosives which she's going to use to blow some shit sky high later on.

Once you reach this base of hers it's back to business as usual as Sebastian sets out on his own to hunt down some of the other Mobius agents he's been helping out at the various Safe Houses around the various environments.

The End

This game has quite possibly one of my favorite thrill-ride ending stretches of all time. And if not, it's definitely up there. Once shit starts hitting the fan, and oh boy does it start hitting the fan, it's one big thing after another. I didn't expect to see about half of the things I did during the ending and so I was always kept guessing on what's going to happen next.

In a game like this the big set pieces can be make or break but in the end I thought they were awesome. It's hard to talk about without going into explicit spoilers, so I'll leave it on the note that, so many games, in my personal opinion, have really shitty endings, so it's nice to see one that goes out there and really does something with theirs.

In a game that probably could have had its first 6 chapters removed for the lack of any real personality or memorability, the rest of the game certainly makes up for it.


In Closing

I had a rough go at the game in the early parts because it was so unnecessary having an open world with literally nothing to do, plainly explained story, lack of mystery, lack of any strong villains for the first half-ish of the game. But that does in fact all go away pretty much all at the same time. I replayed through most of the game again in NG+ and was able to confirm that, yeah, once you ignore all of the open world bullshit and just go straight into the missions and getting the story done, it's not as much of a chore. But the irony is, it being a lot more of an RPG than the last game, by not exploring the open world you're missing out on valuable resources. And that's a big problem.

The game certainly has an identity crises, but it's not the one you would expect to find. But it's quite good once you get past some of its initial pacing issues, doesn't have as much jank as the first game did, and leaves you with one hell of an ending.

I give The Evil Within 2...

Sorry, Hit House.

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".

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