After the modest release of the first title, and after a surprise announcement – following a quick release – The Evil Within 2 seeks to expand the universe created by the undisputed Shinji Mikami, but in addition to continuing the plot that involves alternate worlds and the influence of the Mobius company along with its mysterious Stem system, Tango Gameworks has taken the franchise to new courses of the ludic aspects.
We begin the adventure again in the skin of Sebastian Castellanos. This time, a little more aware of what happens with Mobius, but forced to perform a terrifying task because of dark maneuvers of this vile company. In his memories, Sebastian lost his daughter during a fire, but the reality is that they kidnapped her. The hero not only immerses himself in Stem to rescue her, but must fulfill the difficult mission of rescuing the survivors of a special team commanded by the company who try to discover what happened to the nucleus.
Reluctantly, but motivated to see his daughter again, Sebastian makes the connection and comes to the village to discover that another psychopath has taken control, quickly moving to twist this reality and discover that it is flooded with disgusting creatures with shapes that go from ordinary people converted to zombies, to giant monsters built in the best Joel-Peter Witkin style by the imagination of this villain artist.
While the first game passed the path of psychological horror and pure Japanese cut horror slasher, this delivery seems to point more towards the western side, placing itself in places like the early works of horror of John Carpenter, like The Fog and The Thing. A parallel world represented by a small town; a group of desperate survivors, at the mercy of the abominations that inhabit it; art with death or mutilation; a lot of barbed wire and huge puddles of blood. Although the style of horror has varied a little, it continues to pursue the same aesthetic tendencies.
The Evil Within 2 takes a good two hours to get started with both story and action. Although the story bears the imprint of Mikami despite having retreated to the place of the producer, the cast of characters has expanded and contextualized much more about the situation. There are many more dialogues than in the previous game, many new faces, and the plot has several bifurcations as we go. It’s kind of like the difference between 28 Days Later (2002) and 28 Weeks Later (2007).
But returning to the purely mechanical aspect, and in a similar vein to the previous one, The Evil Within 2 does not cling to any definitive structure, but adopts different elements in pursuit of its narrative and the environments that we have to navigate. The game does not fear at any moment to move from stealth to action, from survival to puzzles, or from the third person to the first person, since everything is functional to the intended by the designer, although it is not innovative or revolutionary. But it is fresh and allows to cross its more than a dozen hours of campaign without having to suffer repeated situations or a long straight line that takes until the end.
In the action it is very similar to its predecessor, and perhaps it remembers too much for the good times of Resident Evil – although in this title you can run and shoot at the same time. On the other hand, by incorporating the action among its elements of gameplay, it does not take too long to complete our arsenal of pistol, shotgun, crossbow and rifle. But in addition to offering them as part of the plot, in the open world and its various side quests we can acquire them in advance, in order to reach places that pursuing the campaign in a linear way we can not, or to beat faster the mini-bosses who have traverse the maps. Bosses like these present / display alternatives of gameplay that refresh the crossing. Some require stealth and attack, while others you need absolute firepower, and some are decidedly unbeatable, so we will only be relegated to get out of their way.
Unfortunately, this huge range of possibilities and the ingenuity to apply it to a campaign, somewhat overshadowed by the lack of character charisma and story. Sebastián Castellanos is one of those characters that we will never take reference to anything, like Isaac Clarke, which we remember more for his costumes than his face, so there was a chance that this universe, story, or some of the villains occupy the place of representation of this series, but unfortunately still not reached.
Definitely, Tango Gameworks is aiming to make The Evil Within a franchise of many deliveries, but as long as it does not begin to reinforce all the elements that have already sown in two parts and three downloadable contents, it will quickly begin to fade into oblivion, no matter how the gameplay mechanics continue to grow with each new release.
The enormous array of environments and types of maps that support the adventure could not exist if all the proposed terror were not represented by one of the most efficient current graphics engines. The Stem Engine, a dedicated variant of id Tech 6 with which they developed Doom (2016), offers the full spectrum of effects needed to build this particular world of nightmares, and from the start it surprises with a dizzying transformation of environments and lighting.
There is a great depth of detail in all possible places, and everything is accompanied by exceptional lighting, which on more than one occasion is functional to gameplay, forcing the use of the flashlight. This time the weak point comes from the side of the art department, who have not been able to use such technology to reproduce more realistic characters, and even some environments suffer from a serious lack of texture resolution. The best is taken by urban places, and without a doubt, the models and animations of the enemies, which based on modern shaders and a brilliant blur of movement by objects, results in a spectacular cinematic level.
Perhaps also because of the artists, The Evil Within 2 suffers from inexplicable optimization problems, where empty rooms and short range visibility show drops in the frames per second, contrasting with the good performance that in other more complex and open places present. In general, with a GeForce GTX 1060 Graphics card, or its equivalent from AMD camp, you can achieve 60 frames per second in 1080p resolution and Ultra, but in 4K you feel the strength, even with GeForce GTX 1080Ti, further evidencing the absence of SLi support.
Overall, The Evil Within 2 ultimately ends up resulting in an exceptional gameplay experience, but leaves some outstanding accounts. The story is traditional with forgettable characters, and even the sound section plays pretty safe, but the range of possibilities is something we do not have every day on the PC platform, and aesthetic decisions are something really worthy of appreciation. It’s ten and a half hours of play justifies the investment quite well, although it may not be remembered at the level of Resident Evil 2 or Silent Hill, but it really takes an important step towards the franchise and the return of the genre.
- Many variants of gameplay
- The particular dynamics offer constant turns
- Aesthetically glossy
- Some optimization problems
- The story is unmemorable / ineffective