by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
Inside The Mind
When I last left The Evil Within, its maiden voyage was rough. The PC version was a mess for the first few weeks, and in that time the damage was done in my eyes. A mix of survival horror and Resident Evil 4 style action from the mind of horror veteran Shinji Mikami was a fun experience, that was dragged into a pit of glaring technical woes and silly game design choices. It left a bitter taste in my mouth, and while I was hoping to see a sequel come about critical reception of the PC version left me to wonder if Tango Gameworks and Bethesda would give it another shot; one more attempt to prove that The Evil Within isn’t dead on arrival, but the beginning of a welcome addition to gaming.
So when The Evil Within 2 was announced, and teased, and shown off in more and more detail in recent months, I’ve been sitting in a mix of quiet skepticism and hope. The question is, was I right to be skeptical and did I have good reason to have hope? To both, yes. Shinji Mikami remaining involved, although now in a producing capacity, still gave me hope. But the rough last outing in the series, gave me reason to be skeptical as far as the attention and care given to the PC version was concerned. So, does The Evil Within 2 leave one with sleepless nights of cold sweats and hard-pumping hearts? Or does it leave PC gamers with a grueling frustration and asking themselves, “Why did I do this to myself again?”
Forget What You Know...
Forget what you know, and forget most of what you THINK you know upon completion of The Evil Within. As if things couldn’t get more confusing than the first game, this sequel throws a huge curveball that changes everything up as it flips everything upside down, scoots it aside, and starts trying to reinvent itself.
The most obvious reinvention, is that we’ve gone from a purely level by level experience to open world. “WHAT!?” I hear you yell, “WHY!?” I hear myself yell. But you know what? This unnecessary change actually works, pretty damn well I might add. There are still the self-contained moments of course, but exploring the surreal town of Union between is reminiscent of exploring Silent Hill, with much less ashy fog and much more of a clear and present danger.
Gameplay is also a more balanced mix of combat and stealth, as opposed to the first game which felt like it turned into a purely combative experience outside of a few select chapters. With sneaking playing a much more prominent role, it makes the game feel like a more proper survival horror. Combat is in no short supply, but a higher emphasis on stealth is both welcomed and frustrating.
A bigger emphasis on stealth, more satisfying combat, better technical polish, a good mix of open world and contained horror environments, a more cohesive story with more interesting characters.
Items are almost unfairly scarce at times.