Evil Within 2: New Play, Familiar Scares, Amazing Game
Something Familiar Here
My relationship with the first The Evil Within, is a little bipolar.
I craved every horrid detail from unrelenting bosses that you seemed to hardly pass each level, repetition of old puzzles recycled in new ways throughout the game to keep you learning, cut scenes that trapped you so you couldn't arm a weapon when the big bad came rushing an inch from your face when the cut scene ended a la the many times I had to fight The Keeper.
I loved how this game referenced everything that I loved from the earlier Playstation era from classic Resident Evil to Silent Hill.
The game play was hard and there were plenty of times I had to shelf the title for a week or so before gathering enough Let's Plays on Youtube to go in again guns blazing. The pay off was incredible.
Playing again as Sebastian, he is confronted early by Juli Kidman, who tells Sebastian that his daughter Lily, expected to have died in a house fire is inside another Stem system and is the core. Other people have been uploaded into this simulation, unsuspecting and being changed into horrible monsters. Against his better judgement, Sebastian feels he can't take the chance just in case it is really Lily and allows himself to be put in this new world of Union to look for her.
Littered with other flashbacks and familiar locations, items, and documents from the first Stem at Beacon Mental Institution, this world is nothing like what we have seen before in an Evil Within game, including the countless DLC's.
The first game much more linear in game play, Sebastian had little free choice in routes even in sections like the village or the catacombs where even taking various routes to collect items all resulted in the same cut scenes and show down with level bosses. Something we have seen in games since our youth, follow the path, do the thing, kill the bad guy scenario. As promised The Evil Within 2, is a lot more open world and does an exceptional job at it.
New players to the franchise and old fans alike, will struggle to survive.
The Impossible Choice
After Beacon, Sebastian has lost everything. His wife, his daughter Lily, his career as a detective, only to come full circle and to make the choice to go back into Stem, this time on the off chance that his daughter, Lily is still alive and this is his chance to save her.
Welcome to Union
The Evil Within 2 brings us a game as we have never seen it played in the franchise. Noob friendly, and Nightmare gamers alike, will really enjoy the open feel of the game; although that is also one of my few minor gripes with the newest installment.
Union looks like your normal small town, a few houses, a nearby woods, a small business district, even when later chapters break chunks off the town and they are floating overhead only to be accessed by The Marrow system. With this openness, a lot of the cramped and claustrophobic entrapment of the earlier game and DLC's is gone. Within the streets of Union, which to me feel like a great tribute to Silent Hill 1 and 2, Resident Evil 3, and The Last of Us; the choice in game play- go in guns blazing to eliminate every enemy to score more green gel, find items, or break into cars- we have lost a lot of the linear go from Checkpoint A to Checkpoint B and this will effect the way that you play the game.
Stealth kills are still a big part of this game and the upgraded ability to your stealth really is helpful in many sections of the game like The Marrow, a Matrix type computer section of the game that allows you to travel from one section of Union to other portions that are no longer connected in a physical way.
Side missions as well as walking the streets of Union to get back to Sebastian's office, your mashup of areas from the first game including a shooting gallery lifted from Resident Evil 4, the upgrade torture device with Tatiana, and a place to stash found files, and store Betheseda collectibles.
Side missions in this game are great and have really helped me be able to level Sebastian's abilities faster and find members of Mobius that will unlock more safe houses and ares of The Marrow around the map.
The only negative to Union, again with the openness, even boss fights can be put off or completely avoided as I found out in my encounter with the Chainsaw Woman outside the theater. Simply hightail it back to the safe house and do some crafting for a moment and come back out and she is gone for the rest of the map.
When asked, I think the more simplistic level designs and repeats of the same monsters may be that Lily is only six years old at the time and her limited imagination. She imagines Union as a small town, modeled after her home town with the things that she remembers most. Even the monsters are her reflection of the members of Mobius that cared for her inside the simulation.
Field Crafting 101
A wonderful new feature for the new player and experienced alike, is finally the ability to craft in the field rather than wait for the next mirror to transport Sebastian back to the upgrade area.
Field crafting actually uses less items than crafting at a bench, and allows for you to make new bolts; most types still present from shock to harpoon, although there are no freeze bolts in this game so far. Using the crossbow, found next to a barricade and a dead Mobius operative, is not only a great way to silently take down enemies from a far, but in this game using shock bolts to fuse boxes can also give them enough of a jolt to open garage doors and restart power for a short period of time.
Other field crafting can make med kits and replenish your health by collecting plants found around Union to craft into medication.
Finding weapon caches in Union are no trouble when doing some of the side missions and the coordinates appear on the communicator. All the basic weapons can also be found around the map with little to no conflict involved in getting them.
This system of field crafting defiantly makes the game easier, taking away the old struggle of having to restart a chapter for not having the right ammo on hand when you reach the boss, but it might have made it a little too casual for the seasoned player.
Tad Too Easy For the Seasoned Player
Elements like frequent safe houses, enemy evasion, and field crafting definitely help the players through the main areas of Union and prepare for the boss fights, but it might be a tiny bit to casual for the seasoned player.
The Artist, The Chainsaw Lady, and Myra
Who exactly will we meet in Union?
Our last encountered in The Evil Within centered around Ruvik, a crazed genius used by an even crazier doctor to create the first Stem.
I'm up to Chapter 9 and sadly to report, I've really only had three boss encounters thus far where most level game play has been about navigating around Union to unlock the safe houses, score weapons through side missions and unlock The Marrow system for transportation.
The Artist, Stefano, is a macabre photographer obsessed with creating art from his murder victims. Informed by the Mobius operatives, he is the one psycho that they didn't plan for when uploading civilians to their Union experiment. Encountering him several times, Stefano taunts Sebastian before actually launching an attack in Chapter 8's closing.
With fierce speed, and an ability to teleport around the area, the key to beating Stefano is to watch for the purple flash before he appears and have a weapon aimed. He is quick and you only have a second to let off a shot before he appears in another spot. This kind of makes me think of the Metal Gear series and fighting Pyscho Mantis for some reason.
When hes at about half health, Stefano will summon the big nameless sky monster, a camera lens with tentacle arms that can easily take a big chunk of Sebastian's health if hit. From earlier in the level, we learn that the where the lighted section of the screen is is where the camera's eye is focused, so stay in the shadows at the back of the room and let Stefano come to you. Be on the move though as he can cause a time shift and leave you temporarily stunned where he will stab you multiple times and take a good chunk of your health.
Another of Stefano's monsters. The Obscura, is a series of mutilated women's bodies fused to a tripod and camera. The Obscura, unlike the larger version in the sky is a simple beast and doesn't even need to be battled seriously. When it appears when restarting the emitter, fire a few shots and let it run around and chase you, occasionally hitting it in one of it's four legs or in the camera lens. When time runs out it takes another bullet and it's dead.
In the section where you fight The Obscura in the hallway, it will go up on the ceiling, lazily fire a few shots until you take it down.
The crawling monster in the grasses of Union is more of a challenge than this simple monstrosity!
The Chainsaw Lady bears a striking resemblance to Laura from the first installment and that is a bit a disappointment. There is a moment in the mirror early on where we see Laura in her red dress before the first appearance of The Chainsaw Lady which made me wonder- if this is Lily's creation then why would she have a memory of a monster she has never seen. If this is Sebastian's memory of Laura why would she have a new form?
If this or The Humming Woman, is meant to be Laura, we may never know.
The Chainsaw Woman is crazy fast, fused together sections of corpses, she can be on Sebastian in an instant. You can outrun her, both in the early section where you face her briefly in the hallway, in the courtyard in from of the Union Courthouse, and a bonus fight with her that you can avoid or play through outside the theater.
Sticking to my notion this is somehow Sebastian's memory of how many times you face Laura in the original game, The Chainsaw Lady can be easily brought down with fire and a few well times shots with both the shotgun, hand gun, sniper rifle, or crossbow.
Outside the courthouse, have The Chainsaw Lady chase you where you can fire bullets into barrels of gas or spilled gas tanks of overturned cars. She will need to be set on fire at least five or six times depending on what difficulty you are playing on and need some added shots to one of her many faces.
The Humming Woman has only appeared in one section of the game play for me so far when you see her appear from a wall behind a juke box and it brings you back to a repeating loop of a room from the first game. Stay low and don't let her see you, weaving in and out of rooms until it finally releases you.
I know a few spoilers from other gamers about a battle with Mobius operative O'Neal and the preacher you see in the trailer, but I haven't gotten that far yet.
I have though gotten to the section where it is revealed that Sebastian's wife, Myra, who had disappeared after the death of Lily knew that it was a conspiracy. Flashbacks through the found slides show that she always believed that Lily was alive and taken but Sebastian refused to believe and that was what set him up for the Beacon Mental Institute misadventure inside Stem.
Myra, a fellow cop and presumed to be the grieving mother and ex wife has somehow found herself inside Stem and is actually The Milky Monster that has yet to be named in where I am in the game and you see her lure Lily to her after the final scene in Chapter 8.
Further game play will result in more updates on this amazing first half.
Not Flawless, Overall Greatness
Aside from the few above mentioned remarks, The Evil Within 2 thus far has been a really enjoyable update to the franchise. Where I has initially worried have a new game play style would affect the over all story, it really has worked to enhance the things I love about the original and the downloadable content.
I do wish for some tighter quarters and that trapped feeling that you get from the first installment a little more, but I write it off as this is told to be a different Stem- a world created by Lily and by design the mind of a six year old which would be simpler.
I love what field crafting has brought to the game and not having to restart levels when I don't have the right ammo for the boss, though I hope as the second part of the game goes on to see a little more densely populated ares of monsters- I wonder if that chances from playing the game on the normal difficulty to Nightmare on my second play-through.
I am really pleased with the game so far and will have to update again with further progression through the nightmare.