The Evil Within 2 Review (PS4, 2017)

The Evil Within 2. It's so generic I'm having a hard time finding words to say about it. Guess I'll just try to write a straight comparison to The Evil Within (2014).

This games' prequel was infamously criticized for its high degree of difficulty. So it didn't surprise me that this turned out to be a much easier game. I've read that The Evil Within 2 was too easy even on normal, so I went with the Nightmare option (hard mode) on my first playthrough. Sure enough the game handles much easier than its prequel even on the highest available difficulty setting. The RPG mechanics are still intact, but this time around protagonist Sebastian feels quite competent in dealing with monsters even early on (that means, without having spent resources on abilities and weapon upgrades). But much like the first game, the more he levels up the less trouble he'll have surviving. That is to say, the RPG mechanics still run against the principles of survival horror, leading to monsters feeling increasingly less threatening.

Overally the game employs the same chapter based linearity of its prequel, but some chapters have an exploration aspect to them that wasn't part of the first game. The player gets to explore a town in chapters 3 and 6, which is reminiscent of Silent Hill: Downpour. However it's been too long for me to say which game provides the better open-world horror experience. In any case, I was having a fairly good time with The Evil Within 2 early on. But my experience soured as the game progressed. Much like the first game the later parts of it play almost entirely like an action game. All of my personal highlights in terms of scare factor happened in the first half of the adventure.

Adventure is probably the right word here. All in all The Evil Within 2 plays like a fairly generic action adventure in the mold of Uncharted and The Last of Us with a horror theme tacked on. It's a waste because the franchise was having a good start but decided to throw out what gave it personality in a lackluster attempt to generate more sales for the publisher. The story feels awkward and missplaced. All the connections to the first game feel incredibly forced. Almost as if the game was made by people that had no involvement with the original.

All in all the direction the franchise took with this is a real shame. The Evil Within had all the ideas and mechanics that could make a top tier horror game, but it doesn't seem that the developers are particularly interested in building up on those. The Evil Within 2 has moments of atmosphere. It's decently spooky, sometimes even scary; in its first half. But as it goes on it just turns more and more into a mediocre stealth action game. At least it did for me on nightmare mode. Maybe it's more of a decent action shooter on normal. But it certainly it isn't the game it could have been.