Though I somehow own the original “Evil Within”, I have never played it. Either it was sent to me as a press copy and I never reviewed it or I grabbed it during some sale. From what I understand, while the first game had some creepy concepts that pulled straight from the series that inspired it (Resident Evil/BioHazard); it lacked some finesse in critical areas of design that prevented it from scoring top marks with both reviewers and players. It seems some of those issues have been cleaned up in the sequel.
For the second game in the series, I decided to pick it up and play it straight away; as I was looking for something to scratch that horror itch that I didn’t quite get this Halloween season from anything else. Thankfully, this was one of the many games that was on sale for the Thanksgiving holiday and I was able to pick it up for only 25 bucks. In an effort to see how the shiny new Xbox One X that was sent to me would perform, I elected to grab that version of the game.
I spent about 22 hours with my first complete run of the game, opting to take my time exploring the fairly open world environment that the city of Union offered. I cautiously stayed in the shadows, crypt between back alleys and kept moving from cover to cover to avoid getting the attention of the disgusting creatures that now lurked around town. Make no mistake, getting caught by these creatures is terrifying; especially when ammo is not available in a plentiful fashion. The low amount of ammo keeps the game true to the rules of the survival horror genre, but sometimes becomes very frustrating when more powerful creatures are fought. In several boss battles, I ran out of ammo and was forced to run laps around the environment so I could grab some ammo that would appear due to the game realizing I had no more. While its nice that the game doesn’t completely screw you over in this regard, I feel it would have added more depth to the battles if there was always another way to defeat your foes. Towards the very end of the game, I had to lower the game difficulty to casual because there just wasn’t enough ammo being generated to balance out the damage I was taking on higher difficulty levels.
The Evil Within 2’s control scheme will be familiar to you if you’ve played any 3rd person style action game in the last 12 years. For me, this game brought back many memories of Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space; making it sit nicely between those two game series. This gives the player an experience loaded with action, but plenty of creepiness. The sound design was also well engineered: You’ll feel the shiver down your spine as your hear the grotesque noises of the monsters that lurk the town around you and experience the pound in your chest as you fire the many different weapons the game offers. Graphically, the game performed well on the Xbox One X; but I did notice some objects that would seemingly pop up out of no where from time to time. Despite the intense action that occurs in some spots, it never seemed to cause a dip in frame rate; something that was made possible by the power of the Xbox One X. (Or is that the hype speaking?)
If you opted not to play the original game, don’t be afraid to pick this one up. All the major story elements are explained from the first game in a paced fashion that make it more interesting then just a simple recap of cut scenes that many sequels seem to be doing these days. Based on my experiences with the flashbacks to the first game, it seems much of it took place in tight corridors in a mental hospital; where the second game gives you a nice mix of both open world and claustrophobic sections.
At 25 dollars, I really enjoyed the Evil Within 2 and thought I definitely got my time’s worth on the purchase. Had I purchased it at the full price, I doubt I would have regretted it. If you are looking to step back into the world of survival horror with a faster pace compared to Resident Evil 7, I certainly recommend checking it out. ~Mike Mertes