The Evil Within 2 is the sequel to a throwback survival horror game, which means it’s a refined take on a old genre. It feels like a game made for people that miss foggy towns and writhing heaps of low-poly limbs.
I miss those things too, but in trying to make something so familiar, jump scares aside, my time with The Evil Within 2 was without surprise. Then again, I was playing one of the more 'traditional' linear sections without having tried some of the open environments that "force you to make tough choices" . My experience was all quite tense and surreal, but in the same ways all the games The Evil Within 2 draws from—Resident Evil and Silent Hill—have demonstrated many times before. See for yourself in the video above.
The Evil Without
This was my first time playing The Evil Within 2, and getting thrown into a mini-boss encounter right off the bat wasn’t the best way to familiarize myself with the combat. Thankfully, it plays like any third-person shooter, so I was able to scrape through the encounter without too much trouble. The key is to run and shoot, and with an enemy as fast as the saw-wielding corpse pile, that meant running a lot to shoot once, maybe twice before dashing away to reload, run, and fire again.
Without explanation (that might come with complete context) there were tripwires scattered around the environment, placed there by someone with more time and caution than Sebastian. It was possible to knock over an errant red barrell (because videogames) to create a shallow pool of flammable gas as well.
Lure the creature in, shoot it, and it sets the thing on fire for some extra damage. It wasn’t a particularly memorable or interesting fight, but I suspect it serves to introduce the player to these creatures before throwing them in as regular enemies in stealthy or open environment scenarios later on. It was a tense fight, but one I felt I’d experienced many times before.
What followed was a bizarre but quite rote sequence where I walked down warping hallways with foreboding messages scrawled on the wall in blood. "Appreciate the art" says one, and, as commanded, I couldn’t help but appreciate the silly art of blood scribbling. It’s back and here to stay, it seems. There was also a small interactive sequence where I found a rose and necklace, placed them on a manikin, and then arranged them to imitate a nearby photo. As simple as it was, I hope it’s the easy introduction of more complex, classic item placement puzzles we’ll encounter further into the game.
If cheesy, grotesque absurdity becomes The Evil Within 2’s charm, and the combat stays playful and tense even if it feels one-dimensional, then it will at least tickle the feet of classic videogame horror enthusiasts. Though I doubt it’ll make anyone looking for genuine scares tear at their scalp or call out in their sleep.
There aren’t many games where we battle sentient, moaning limb piles anymore, and for good reason. But hey, maybe the limb piles are all leading us somewhere new.