After covering The Evil Within, we’re going to dive into the eye of insanity and take a look at The Evil Within 2, Tango Gamework’s most recent title. While Shinji Mikami did not direct this sequel, he was involved as the game’s Producer while John Johanes stepped up as Director.
The Evil Within 2 opens with Sebastian descending into alcoholism after surviving the nightmarish events of the first game. Mobius agent Juli Kidman tracks him down and informs him that his daughter, thought to have perished in a fire, is actually alive, mentally trapped in a new version of STEM called Union. He can get her out but in order to do so, he’ll have to make his way inside, where the world has been twisted by the minds of serial killers and cultists into a hellish town infested with monsters. No problem, right?
This game is an excellent example of how to expand as a sequel. It builds on the ideas that worked in the first game while adding several new ones. The map is much more open, with a greater emphasis on scrounging for materials and ammunition. Enemies don’t come in waves, they’re scattered all throughout the environment with new ones showing up periodically, so you can never be absolutely sure you’re safe, unless of course you’re in a safe house. Safe houses let you recuperate, with soothing warm light and soft sounds, which help ease the tension of fighting. You can even restore your health with coffee!
Perhaps the greatest improvement to the game is that of Sebastian’s characterization. Gone is the flat, boring detective; this is a father dented by years of pain and torment who won’t stop at anything in order to be reunited with his little girl. The writing quality has been massively improved, leaps and bounds over the dialogue in the first game. This extends to the supporting cast, such as Juli Kidman. That’s without touching on the villains, whose reality-warping powers and performances are utterly horrifying.
Tango Gameworks heavily modified id Tech 5 (the engine that The Evil Within ran on) into the all-new STEM engine and the upgrades pay off. Union is hauntingly beautiful, with dense trees and eerie mists reminiscent of Alan Wake, with what appears to be a calm town hiding layer upon layer of sinister nightmares that continually unfold the further you go. Major shifts in the environment occur from time to time, creepily foreshadowing a new threat to come.
The upgrade system works along the same lines in the first game, with Green Gel to improve your stats and keys that unlock supply lockers. This time around, there’s also various abilities to be acquired, allowing Sebastian easier stealth kills or other benefits. Another neat addition that works due to an open map is side quests. While not required, doing these additional missions will often bring greater rewards in the form of guns or Green Gel and weapon parts.
As with the first game, there’s a ton of New Game+ stuff to check out, including new weapons, outfits and even modes of playing the game, with some brutally difficult options. Additionally, After modders started toying around with a first-person mode, Tango Gameworks went a step further and released a free update, adding the ability to play the game in first-person mode.
The Evil Within 2 is one of the best horror games released this generation and I highly encourage you to check it out. The quality is top-notch, the story compelling, the combat excellent and the terror palpable. If you loved the enemy designs in the first game but were put off by the cheesy nature of the writing, give this game a chance. Get comfortable, prepare yourself and dive in. This is no ordinary world.