The Evil Within, from Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami and his new studio Tango Gameworks, was a really fun game. It certainly wasn’t perfect, lacking a bit of narrative cohesion with the constant moving between areas and mind-screwing, but it was certainly an engaging mix of Resident Evil 4 and Silent Hill. Worthy enough for a sequel anyway, and we’re getting one on October 13. Yes, a Friday. Even better, we’ve now played The Evil Within 2 and have the gameplay footage to prove it. Here’s our feelings on our hands-on with the game to go with the video!
It all starts with former detective Sebastian Castellanos, the returning player character from the first game, making the ill-advised decision to go back into the STEM mainframe that caused all the problems in the first game. His daughter Lily’s missing you see, and his former partner Julie Kidman says that Lily can be only found in the nightmarish mental landscape of STEM. Joy.
The demo picked up in Chapter 2, where I was gently introduced to the game through creepy bloody hanging corpses, a sinister photographer, and a giant chainsaw-wielding laughing woman made of hair and body parts. She immediately began to chase me and I discovered both the sprint button and how to hold my breath for two minutes. This was terrifying. The monster was insanely freaky, even by Evil Within standards – seriously, we’re approaching Silent Hill quality, and its constant pursuit was heart-racing.
Undoubtedly it’ll continue, but despite the mysterious photographer stabbing me at the end I ended up in the next, longer part of the game.
I don’t know if you noticed, but The Evil Within was quite linear. Locations were small or narrow, and never really lasted long. That’s all set to change in the sequel. The next area I visited was a town that was practically open-world, overrun with monsters and zombies. I spoke to someone on the development team and they confirmed that The Evil Within 2 will have far more of these open levels to allow players the chance to explore.
After blowing away a mutated lady in a house in a manner that was clearly referencing both Resident Evil 4 and this year’s RE7, both in that it didn’t go very well and the way she was force-feeding some poor guy something horrible, I headed into the town. Mobius soldiers, part of the organization looking to exploit STEM, were getting overrun, and all bar one were struck down. Zombies flooded the streets and Sebastian had to sneak past them.
The Evil Within 2, if it needs stating, is not Resident Evil. In fact it’s probably closer in some ways to Silent Hill or The Last of Us. You can take out a few zombies or monsters, but you do not have the firepower to take them all down. I had to sneak by or straight run for it. The one time I got into a firefight, deep in a church, I was quickly outnumbered and slaughtered. I was a lot more careful after that. The best way to take out a zombie was to sneak up on it and stab it in the head, nice and quiet like, or chuck a bottle to distract them.
There are multiple objectives in open world location like the town, and multiple paths to take. I completely ignored the church the second time, went completely the opposite direction, and found just as many cool things that way including the parts for a sniper rifle.
Aside from general objective markers, your communicator can be used to pick up signals that lead to special objectives or hidden items. The radio on a fallen Mobius operative lead me to the aforementioned sniper rifle. I picked up a new signal every few minutes, so there’s clearly a lot to do in the town.
Even after I got yet another Silent Hill reference with the street collapsing into a chasm, but then it went into Inception territory by folding the town upwards rather coolly. The one thing I didn’t like? That most of the doors were locked. I guess it can’t be too open or they’d never finish the game, but it’s still slightly disappointing. Still, if there are many open locations like this town throughout The Evil Within 2 I won’t be complaining too much.
There were some lovely touches too, like a zombie dragging the top half of a corpse, crawling out from bushes or cars, or others chasing after civilians. I mistakenly tried to intervene on one such occasion and not only did I fail to save the civilian, I brought every zombie in the local area down on me. These are fast zombies, incidentally.
Then my demo came to an abrupt halt as some hideous long black haired ghost girl straight out of The Grudge launched at me, calling my name (well, “Sebastian”. If she had called “Chris” I wouldn’t be doing this preview). After sucking the life from Sebastian, the game faded to black and left me on a cliffhanger. Great.
It was only a short, sweet burst of The Evil Within 2, but it already seems a much better game. No idea if it’ll be just as hard to follow, storyline-wise, but in terms of gameplay it’s both creepy and entertaining. Pure action fans expecting Resident Evil 4 or Dead Space might be a little put-off by the stealth and lack of ammo (at least in the part I played), but survival horror fans looking for actual big budget horror? They should be delighted.
Are you planning on picking up The Evil Within 2? Did you like the first game? Let us know in the comments!
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Beating that damn chainsaw witch. I will, you know…