On paper, I was a little bit worried about The Evil Within 2. It was announced and revealed a mere four months prior to it’s release. Shinji Mikami was involved but was no longer the director. Nobody really played much of it prior to release. It all felt like a bit of a rushed project. However, midway through my second playthrough of The Evil Within 2, I can safely declare that the game is just as good as the first, if not better. Despite this, it’s important to clarify that both are very different games with very different strengths and weaknesses.
The Evil Within 2 takes place some time after the events of the original game. Sebastian is a broken man, having seen horrific things after plunging into the world of STEM and the mind of a psychopath. Suddenly, MOBIUS, the company behind the whole ordeal, reveal to Sebastian that his daughter, previously thought to be dead, was still alive. To rescue her, Sebastian must basically enter STEM once more, this time in a world constructed by MOBIUS. As you’d expect, once Sebastian is inside STEM, things are much worse than MOBIUS originally let on.The original Evil Within was intriguing but delivered its story in a rather obtuse manner. The Evil Within 2 makes great steps to rectify the latter issue. The story feels well-paced, has some surprises here and there (and some predictable moments too, mind you) but more importantly feels a lot more focused. You won’t be left with a feeling of whiplash, being ripped from area to area with little to no narrative justification. While the story is interesting, some may be disappointed to discover that several threads left hanging from the original game won’t be tied up by the end of 2.
The most striking thing about The Evil Within 2 is just how much of a different game it is when compared to it’s predecessor. The original game guided Sebastian through many environments as horrible creatures, situations or both threw themselves at him. The Evil Within 2 still has these elements, but it places more of an emphasis on open level design and exploration. This affects the way the game plays – though it ultimately gives a lot more freedom to the player.Every now and then, Sebastian will be given free reign to explore the city of Union, a town created by MOBIUS inside the STEM system designed to look like a typical American town. These moments are unexpected but fantastic – think the streets and alleys of Resident Evil 2 or the connective tissue in the Silent Hill games where you explore the town. To make navigation more bearable, Sebastian can pick up signals using his radio which highlights points of interest – some memories that might trigger a battle or others just dead soldiers with supplies and ammo.