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Tentative Steps Into The Psychological Horror Of The Evil Within 2

Freeze frame.

In the last month, we’ve seen two sides to the many headed monster that The Evil Within 2 will be, as Tango Gameworks confidently stride forward with their latest take on the horror genre. There’s new strings to this game’s bow, with a larger scale at times – let’s not forget that the original game also released on last generation consoles – as well as the tighter more psychological moments from the first game as the world shifts and changes around you.

Set three years after the original game’s events, Castellanos finds himself embroiled in the latest misuse of the STEM project by Mobius, and if anything, it’s weirder and creepier than ever. It’s a more personal story this time around, as he’s told that his daughter Lily is actually alive within STEM, when she was presumed dead, with her mind having been used to create this world of Union. It’s the only way to draw him back in to help, with Mobius’ own efforts getting them nowhere fast.

The game design gets to be a lot more open ended this time, with the first real foray into STEM taking Castellanos to a part of town where looking up at the sky is a nightmarishly bad idea and mutated or zombified humans roam the streets, looking for anyone and everyone that they can rend limb from limb. That’s what you witness first hand as the last few Mobius team members are chased and eventually caught by these monsters, with just one managing to get away into the safe house.

There’s an amusing little parallel to Metal Gear Solid and Otacon here, as Liam O’Neal is no hero and was only on the team to help them to restore the Core. As he insists on cowering in the safe house that he’s found, he begrudgingly offers to help Castellanos remotely via the new communictor. This – and you’ll encounter other people’s communicators in the game, acting as key cards in certain instances – allows you to chat to O’Neal or out of STEM to the team in the Mobius facility. However, it also acts as your guide to the objectives in the more open areas that you get to explore.

The main function is to point you towards a signal that sounds an awful lot like Lily in clear distress, but it can also pick up signals from others in the world that could use your help or simply places to explore and find weird and interesting things in the world. Tracking Lily’s voice to a diner up on a hill, I was treated to a shadowy world, reliving her traumatic path through this area. Castellanos’ search continues.

Of course, while Lily is his main motivation here, he reluctantly is also there to help defuse the mess that Mobius have found themselves in. Alongside these more open areas there are also the more linear, more tightly scripted areas, filled with shocking or simply creepy imagery that shifts and changes around you. You’re never quite sure what you’ll see when you turn around.

That’s what you’re seeing in the above video from a few chapters into the game, opening with a fight against a maniacally laughing boss known as Guardian who’s made out of a seemingly random assortment of limbs, multiple heads and buzzsaws. She hounds you during an opening chapter when you have no choice but to simply run from one unexpected room to another, but even when you can fight back, it’s full of tension trying to hide from her and then know when and how to strike to deal the most damage. You’ll want to be fully equipped for this as well, making use of the safe room that you can retreat to via certain cracked mirrors to head to Castellanos’ office, where you can upgrade his abilities, make use of the workbench for crafting new ammo, and checking your investigatory pin board.

It’s once you get inside the town hall that things get really strange, as you’re on the heels of an antagonist with the ability to freeze time as though capturing a moment in a camera. There’s one or two cute little photography-based puzzles here, you’re presented with one weird image after another elsewhere, and again, the game pulls off its trademark trick of constantly shifting the level around you. It’s not outright scary, but more creepy and unnerving.

Again, there’s the bodies and the soon to be dead members of Mobius, and again Castellanos is dragged into doing something he doesn’t really want to as a means to an end of finding Lily. In this instance it’s having to activate a Stable Field Emitter to neutralise the time pausing ability that Stefano, this malevolent character you’re chasing, is making use of, and there’s a clever play on this as you have to try and protect the emitter from another sinewy creature with a camera for a head – known as Obscura – that can freeze its activation process. You have to figure out how to stop that effect from pausing the emitter so that you can banish the beast and restore a semblance of normality. I say semblance, because all you need to do is head outside and look at the sky to realise that this is still anything but normal.

The Evil Within 2 is shaping up quite well, in my opinion, and will surely appeal to fans of the first game’s mixture of combat and psychological horror. It pushes on from the first game with much larger and more open areas to explore (very tentatively), but beneath that, you still have the things that worked best from the original.

One Comment
  1. double-o-dave
    Member
    Since: Nov 2008

    I’m just going to pause the video for a second after 1 minute and say, so far it looks very similar to TLOU, especially when opening a drawer and collecting those weapon parts.

    Comment posted on 28/09/2017 at 11:30.