THE EVIL WITHIN 2 REVIEW: One of the Best Horror Games Around

Horror games are constantly evolving, trying to bring out the next terror to haunt you. Creating the best scenario mixed with an eerie atmosphere to keep you on your toes throughout the entirety of the game. This comes in all new forms, from typical jump scares (which no one appreciates anymore), to an elaborate build up and climax that usually follows a dramatic story line.

The Evil Within 2 by Bethesda is one of the best latest horror games I have played in a while! They fit the eerie atmosphere with tough enemies and frightening moments. Even the times where everything seems safe, it could change to a horde or even a following boss-like enemy that will just show up whenever it wants.

This title has so much to offer from the start and doesn't let you relax for any time outside of the safe houses. So if you plan to play this game, then be ready to hide in your safe house if you ever just need a moment to collect yourself! WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Story

Once again you take the role of Sebastian Castellanos as he is about to dive back into STEM, the virtual construct that brings together the consciousness of multiple people and allows them to live in a virtual community, but this time it will be to save his daughter. With the stakes risen and the malicious enemies stalking about Union, the small town in which the game takes place, and plenty of people who refuse to let Lily free.

Lily has been placed in the role as the "Core" for STEM by Mobius, which makes her the most powerful entity within the STEM-built world. So get ready to chase down multiple power hungry maniacs as they manipulate the universe to a gruesome nightmare in search of their own selfish goals!

Gameplay

The first thing I have to say about the gameplay is, "Thank god we don't have to burn the bodies anymore!" Seriously, that was the biggest downfall of the first one, in my opinion, and I do not miss having to find matches and burn enemies in areas that I am in for longer than a few minutes!

The controls themselves had a nice, smooth feeling as you could adjust the sensitivity and even choose if you want auto-aim assist before you get started. Trying them out both ways, the assist does grant a bit of help as it locks on the head of your enemies when you initially ready your weapon. However, moving the aim at all makes it hard to get the lock to come back. I preferred playing without the auto-aim assist because then I didn't try to rely on it's help when in combat. I found aiming to be a lot easier, thanks to the lack of pulling from the auto-aim when it locked on to the enemy that wasn't always the closest.

Movement was managed well also. A stamina bar limits how often you can run at full speed. You get the freedom to choose when to go slow and when to get the hell out of there. It was easy to quickly switch paces and even get behind cover when enemies would suddenly appear. Add on the fact that you can change cover locations with the touch of a button and this game had all the perks needed to make stealth not only manageable, but swift and easy.

Bringing the element of open world survival to the game is also a major upgrade from the first. Instead of loading each area individually, you now have a large chunk of the town to traverse for each load sequence. However, don't enter any of the homes if you don't have another five to ten minutes to play. There isn't a single building I recall entering that didn't have something crazy happen.

Keeping the element of surprise, you could enter a building and find numerous events, from a gruesome seen with a flashback to someone trying to fight off enemies or trying not to become one themselves, yet no matter what you walk into it will be up to you to stop it or die!

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Probably my favorite section to hate is the ghost woman. The first time she arrived brought me to the edge of my seat, and then the game switched from survival to defenseless, because she will NOT go down. You are then left with trying to find your exit by means of key or puzzle while she continues to lurk throughout the area. When you meet her, just keep low and don't get grabbed or else she will eat your soul.

As you continue through the game, the small suburban town that was created as the community hometown within STEM, known as Union, will continue to be littered with more and more enemies, but not more of the same. Instead, you will end up with several types of enemies cluttering the streets, making stealth very difficult to manage. This doesn't mean you can run out like Rambo either, since you will never really be fully stocked on ammo, even with great strategy and searching skills, so you want to at least take one down with a stealth kill if you feel that getting caught is inevitable. The increase of enemies is gradual and flows with your progress within the story, so by the time things get crowded you will have a strategy in mind that has helped keep you alive so far, but no matter what, resources should be preserved the best you can manage.

Outside of Union would be The Marrow. This is the underground, for lack of better term, where Sebastian is able to quickly travel to different locations in Union. While this was supposed to be the safest place for Mobius operatives to meet up and travel around STEM, you will quickly find that it is just as dangerous within here as it is in Union itself.

As far as collectables go, there are a few things that can be collected and each have their own value. Mother Mary statues are everywhere and contain a locker key. The key can be used to open a locker inside the power up section of your personal safe house. You will find the obvious green gel and metal parts that can be used to upgrade yourself and your weapons. There are photo slides that can be obtained, which unlock a new story section between Sebastian and Kidman. This is another way to be rewarded with some green gel from your cat. That's right! You have a little cat inside your safe house as well.

For PC players, there is even a way to enjoy this game in first person!

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Graphics

The small details, from shadows to smoke, really brought out the environment and made the scenes your placed in seem a little too real at times. While they didn't make it photo-realistic, you could easily depict all the areas from each other and gave each section its own unique style. I was impressed by how smooth the transitions between the different parts of the game were done. Any part of the game could suddenly change and you wouldn't see a load screen nor items out of place, unless you count the new room that wasn't there just a second ago.

They accomplished the eerie atmosphere by showing a destroyed town, taken over by the evil within a few selfish people, and showing how a small town worth of people were put through hell. All of this just for someone to achieve the greatness of owning their own chunk of simulated nightmares. I couldn't help but feel bad every time I had to take down an enemy, aka ex-civilian, and having to shoot them in the head twice; once for the face worms, second for the kill.

Sounds

Every enemy had their own distinct sound they made, which brought the realism of the game itself to a new level. Each sound let you know which enemy was around, but that doesn't necessarily mean you would be ready for them either. The ghost woman freaked me out the most. Making her lullaby hums make me never want to hear another lullaby again!

I thought that the mix of the various enemy sounds, that I was never able to source, brought the fear up a notch. The sounds throughout the environment itself like wind, fire, and echoes, were all a great touch to make the game freakier than it looks.

Replayability

There are plenty of reasons to go back through, either on a New Game Plus file, taking your personal and weapon upgrades along with any collected materials so far with you, or just starting over. For challenge seekers, I had trouble beating the game on Survival (normal) and am excited to tryout the newly unlocked difficulty Classic (extreme). For collectors and perfectionists, you can go through and try to find every photograph or memory, and fully upgrade yourself and your arsenal in the New Game Plus file.

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You may not be able to just select what chapter to start on, but the generosity of items pick ups is amazing. On your second playthrough, you will get a lot more of everything! Instead of just 15 metal parts, you could find 100, and instead of 150 green gel from enemies, you would pick up 900. Not to mention the simplicity of taking care of enemies with your upgraded weapons from the initial playthrough.

What Could Be Better

The only thing that would of been nice is the ability to choose what chapter to go to after beating the game. There were parts of the game that I found more exciting than others and would love to visit that chapter again, without having to traverse through the main story line all over.

Final Verdict

The mix of the enemies, the freaky environment, along with a few story twists really brought this game to the top of my list of favorite horrors. This is going to be the next game that I platinum for sure! Every horror fan can find something in this game to be right up their alley. This is the best mix of survival gameplay in a horror environment that I have seen since The Last of Us. Easily my most recommended title to get for 2017.