Effective sầu horror usually requires a highly directed experience — careful directorial control over each plot beat to lớn keep the tension building, a h& guiding the camera to lớn make sure you see whatever horrific creature lurches behind the protagonist. The Evil Within 2 turns this genre necessity on its head, allowing you khổng lồ explore at your own pace but, as if by magic, without lessening the pressure necessary for horror to be scary.

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2014’s The Evil Within wasn’t nearly this ambitious. Despite work from major names such as Resident Evil mastermind Shinji Mikamày, that debut effort from developer Tango Gameworks was somewhat disappointing. Though it had a great setting, it had no sense of pacing, an abundance of frustrating trùm fights & boring writing that made it hard lớn care about the characters.

I’m currently eight hours inlớn The Evil Within 2, và what’s most impressive so far is how this sequel addresses each individual complaint about the first game one by one, like it’s working through a checkdanh sách. And it does all of this on top of greatly expanding in scope & freedom.

The Evil Within 2 greatly expands the scope và freedom of the first game

October 12, 2017 - The First Eight Hours

If you skipped out on The Evil Within, don’t worry. The sequel continues the story of hard-luchồng now-ex-cop Sebastian Castellanos, but it doesn’t require a knowledge of the original so much as a willingness to give in khổng lồ the game’s off-the-rails narrative sầu. Three years after the first game’s murder investigation gone wrong, Castellanos is forcibly recruited by a mysterious organization called Mobius & thrust baông xã into the “STEM” world, an alternate reality where (once again) people have sầu begun turning inlớn monsters that exist on the toàn thân horror continuum between the works of Raimi & Cronenberg.

While the gruff Castellanos is no more of an engaging character than last time around, he at least has a more personal motivation. His daughter Lily, who he believed died in a tragic fire years ago, is alive and trapped in the STEM world as well. It’s a small & cliché addition, but those added stakes vị wonders for The Evil Within 2, providing some real momentum and a reason for Castellanos & the player to keep pushing forward.

Union feels like a real, recognizable, lived-in place

By leaping directly inlớn the STEM world, The Evil Within 2 is also able to immediately embrace one of the best aspects of the first game: how completely batshit weird it got in its later segments. The sequel finds Castellanos jumping between odd locales right from the start. One second he’s in a strange, slow-motion killer’s ornate art gallery, & the next he’s walking through a warped flashbachồng of Beabé Mental Hospital, the setting of the last game. The Evil Within 2 waits for the precise moment I have my bearings in a location, then rips the rug of reality out from underneath me.

Most of my first eight hours with The Evil Within 2 has been set in a sleepy city called Union. It was built by Mobius to lớn be the ikhuyến mãi alternate reality utopia, và Castellanos calls it “any town, USA.” That sort of broad evocativeness works in the game’s favor, creating much more of a sense of place than the first game ever accomplished. Tacky art hangs on walls, neon signs flicker above sầu small-town shops, & mundane junk litters closets và office desks. Union may be a kém chất lượng alternate reality where you can travel through computers to get from location to lớn location, but Tango Gameworks puts in the effort to lớn make it feel lượt thích a real, recognizable, lived-in place — albeit one that has sunk inlớn devastation and terror.

Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks
Beyond just being a more interesting setting, Union introduces one of the biggest departures The Evil Within 2 takes from its predecessor: large, open locations. You can spend hours exploring every inch of Union, and the game rewards that thoroughness with more of the limited resources Castellanos needs khổng lồ survive sầu. I scoured the tự động hóa shops, visitor’s centers và abandoned train yards at length, digging up ammunition và crafting material. The city is intricately designed & peppered with gifts all over in a way that really encourages taking your time.

Naturally, with a bigger area khổng lồ explore come side objectives as well. The Evil Within 2 lets you find optional quests by pinpointing stray frequencies with a “communicator,” a sort of walkie-talkie that Castellanos carries with hyên. These extra tasks range from mundane resource drops — you’ll find many Mobius soldier corpses with a lot of ammo and pouches that increase your carrying capađô thị — lớn completely new areas and fully fleshed-out subplots. You never know what you’ll find by following a stray signal, which makes me want to lớn hunt all of them down.

I’m astounded by the way that The Evil Within 2 takes light “open-world” gameplay & makes it work within a horror context. I’m used khổng lồ horror games being strictly linear; sure, the first Evil Within had a few large rooms lớn mess around and try different combat strategies in, but there was always a single path forward, keeping the the pace in step. Here in Union, you can go in any direction you want, & yet the pacing doesn’t suffer.

Tango Gameworks/Bethesdomain authority Softworks
I’m still not sure how Tango Gameworks accomplishes this, but even as I’ve sầu run up & down the same street for the sixth time, it keeps throwing surprises at me. On my initial pass, I’ll clear a garden full of enemies. The next time through, a new one has spawned in a just-hidden-enough location lớn make me jump with surprise. Or I’ll run past a house I’ve already rummaged through, but I’ll hear a woman screaming, pulling me baông xã to find something new and shocking.

I don’t know if The Evil Within 2 will be able lớn work this magic right up until the credits — which seem a lot further off than they did in the first game — but for now, I’m extremely impressed. The game just keeps tossing everything it has at me, and every time I think I’ve sầu seen it all, it gives me some quality revelation, some dreadful apparition I’ve yet to lớn encounter. That push and pull, between wanting to see what the game has in store next & being terrified khổng lồ find out — that delightful feeling is why I play horror games, and so far this one is nailing it.

Update: October 18, 2017 — The finished game and score

As I worked through the baông xã half of The Evil Within 2 last weekend, one question kept repeating over và over again in my head: How? How did they pull this off? How does it work so well?

The answer, as best I can discern it, is pacing. The previous The Evil Within struggled with this, jumping from scene to lớn scene with no regard for letting the player breathe and spacing out reveals & building tension slowly. It was non-stop; it was exhausting.

The Evil Within 2 is a night-and-day difference from that muddled mess. It is, hands-down, one of the best-paced horror/action games I’ve played in years.

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Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks The deeper I got inlớn The Evil Within 2, the more it became clear precisely what the game benefits from with its handful of larger open areas. It’s not about creating a huge open world that you can get lost in for ages. Rather, these bigger zones — three in total throughout the game — serve sầu as a tool of pacing.

It’s not that these wider open spaces are safe, exactly. They have sầu plenty of enemies và increasingly dangerous threats as the game progresses. But those enemies are also more spread out, & the game generally is pulling less tricks related to the very state of your mental being while you’re in those levels. Where the linear sections of The Evil Within 2 are more intense, these bigger areas focus more on exploration, on taking your time lớn explore and carefully chart your path around or through gatherings of enemies.

These bits wouldn’t be as effective as they are if the resources in The Evil Within 2 weren’t so finely tuned. I made use of nearly every item I picked up throughout the whole of my 20-some hours in the game — every bullet, every medkit and especially every thành công that allowed me khổng lồ improve sầu my guns and abilities.

Beyond ammo and healing items, Sebastian also collects “weapon parts” và some weird green gel that drops from fallen enemies. The former is used lớn nâng cấp your guns, giving them more damage, more ammo capathành phố, faster reloads & so on; the latter upgrades Sebastian himself, with abilities ranging from the obvious (more health & stamina) to the game-changing (the ability lớn slow down time when aiming your weapons). These dual tăng cấp systems feel both well-developed và weighty. Choosing whether to lớn spread my weapon parts around khổng lồ different guns or focus them all into making my pistol a non-stop death machine, for example, had a major lasting impact on how I played the game, as did whether I centered Sebastian on combat or stealth upgrades.

The only part of The Evil Within 2 that doesn’t feel perfectly, tightly bound together is the crafting system. Crafting is essential in the game as a means of pulling together just a little more survival potential. Inevitably, though, I spent most of my gunpowder on the cheapest & most plentiful possible item: pistol bullets. Sometimes I would splurge on some shotgun shells or flamethrower ammo — especially right before a big trùm encounter — but more often than not, I wanted the most bang for my buông xã, so khổng lồ speak.

Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks
In particular, The Evil Within 2 seems khổng lồ want you to craft lots of ammo for the crossbow, but I very rarely found that weapon worth using. As such, I ended the game with dozens of metal pipes và nails in my inventory. Your inventory is unlimited as far as carrying crafting components goes, so it’s not the worst fate in the world, but it stood out in a game where everything else seems so perfectly designed.

When you’re not searching for materials in the more open areas, The Evil Within 2 pushes you inkhổng lồ more linear, directed sequences that move sầu the story forward. These are where you’ll find the scariest and most pulse-pounding moments of the game, and also where you’ll fight its bosses.

I want to Call out the trùm fights specifically, because these were another major failing of the first game. In The Evil Within, boss battles were a frustrating affair where you were provided with little sense of if you were doing real damage to an enemy or what the best method was lớn kill it. In the sequel, boss fights are a blast.

Both in terms of showing players that the trùm is being properly injured & just visualizing elements of the environment better, The Evil Within 2 makes it really clear how lớn fight a boss without the need to lớn die and restart over và over. One fight against a chainsaw-wielding monster has traps và explosive sầu barrels set up around the environment. In another clever battle, your goal is simply to keep the unstoppable bad guy busy while a clochồng runs down.

There’s even a surprising boss rush that is, somehow, not awful khổng lồ play.

Tango Gameworks/Bethesdomain authority Softworks
That boss rush serves as a lead-in lớn the final act of The Evil Within 2, và what a final act it is. If the game as a whole is an example of how khổng lồ get pacing right in đoạn phim games, the last few hours demonstrate the absolute ikhuyễn mãi giảm giá approach khổng lồ a conclusion — the rising action, climax and denouement each applied with skill and care.

The Evil Within 2 pulls off an ending that had me buzzing with excitement, despite it not even being a particularly good story. I won’t spoil anything here, of course, but Sebastian’s tìm kiếm for redemption remains pretty goofy và corny throughout. Tango Gameworks embraces that cheese, however, leaning inkhổng lồ it and continuously raising the stakes in the finale until I couldn’t help but be drawn in. It’s just silly, dumb fun, and I loved every second of it.


The same could be said for the game itself, honestly. The Evil Within 2 represents one of the starkest và most astounding turnarounds from a debut title lớn its sequel that I’ve ever witnessed. It’s a brilliant horror game, one that understands when khổng lồ ratchet up tension và when to pull baông chồng & let you collect yourself. If the first game was a failed attempt khổng lồ capture the spirit of Shinji Mikami’s classic Resident Evil 4, the sequel is a successful attempt at something much better: finding a chilling, exhilarating voice of its own.

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The Evil Within was reviewed using an early final “retail” Steam download code provided by Bethesdomain authority. You can find additional information about’s ethics policy here.

Platkhung Win, PS4, Xbox One Publisher Bethesda Softworks Release Date Oct 13, 2017 Win Score 9 Developer Tango Gameworks