Sunday 11 February 2018

Evil Within 2 ★★★☆☆

Evil Within is a horror game, at its core, from the creator Shinji Mikami. Best known for Resident Evil (1 - 4), Devil May Cry, Vanquish and, the sadly underappreciated, Shadows of the Damned, to name a few. With his name behind some of the best known and influential games, since 1996, I was expecting Evil Within to be something more than a cheap and inferior 'nod' to  Resident Evil 4. With an unrelatable and uninspired protagonist, that you're never given a reason to give a crap about or a strong enough incentive to continue playing his mundane adventure.

Gratefully, A lot of the issues I had with the original have been reconciled, with the series second instalment. You play, again, as Sebastian Castellanos. A dude that looks like John Wick, if he was played by a drunk and beat down Bruce Campbell. This time with a very valid reason of why you want to be this guy and continue on his elaborate and unlikely scenario of events and see the weirdness that's about to come his way.

The game opens with Sebastian reliving his house burning down, with his daughter trapped inside. Which feels like a reverse play on the opening for The Last of Us. (and its similarities don't end there, but I'll come back to that). While Sebastian is drowning his sorrows, at his regular Bar of choice. He's approached by shady government types, known as Mobius, and his former partner, Juli Kidman. Juli tells Sebastian that his daughter never died in the fire and it was an elaborate ruse so they could kidnap her for sketchy secret experiments. She's still alive, only trapped inside of a machine called - STEM - that's used to go inside of other people's minds as a collective subconscious. Sort of like the Animus from Assassins Creed only with a bit of the dream diving machine from Paprika thrown in. - (If you've never seen Paprika but think Inception is good, you should check out where it got most of its ideas).

Mobius proposition Sebastian into using STEM to search for his missing daughter, in return for finding and returning the missing members of the Mobius team, all of whom are also trapped inside. Once inside of STEM, which is also the name of the Engine the game is actually running on (ooOOoo, how meta) you soon wonder across someone I assume to be a friend of Bioshock's infamous and insane artist, Sander Cohen, leaving dead bodies on display like installation art pieces, a bit like the killers from the Hannibal series. Oddly beautiful, in their own grotesque and macabre way.

Evil Within 2 is more of an open sandbox adventure this time. You can wonder the town of Union and approach objectives in any order you wish. Wondering off and exploring will reward you with extra weapons or parts for upgrades. As I already mentioned, Evil Within 2 takes a lot of inspiration from The Last of Us, utilising a very similar creation system, for ammo and health, and with some enemies that are highly susceptible to sound and make an oddly familiar clicking noise, as they mindlessly wander the streets.

Annoyingly, Evil Within 2 still controls like it's a 2008 over the shoulder, third person, Unreal engine game. And that's not a good thing. The camera is wedge right behind Sebastian, this is likely an artistic choice on the Devs part, to give a more claustrophobic atmosphere and create more tension but it just felt frustrating not being able to see what's in front of you or coming at yourself because Sebastian is taking up sixty percent of the players view.

The game's story makes no sense but try to ignore that and fall down the rabbit hole. Take the red pill. Elop on the journey to the Silent Hill town inside of The Matrix.

Bry Wyatt

Evil Within 2 at CeX

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