Post Script

Why The Evil Within 2 isn’t suited to be­ing the out­door type


The Evil Within 2’ s third chap­ter is where it be­gins to stretch its legs, with the first of three large out­door maps wel­com­ing you to Union – or what’s left of it. It’s not an open world in the strictest sense, since the frac­tures in its foun­da­tions force you to head un­der­ground to the Mar­row, a net­work of tun­nels that con­nect these dis­parate ar­eas. But it still feels like an open-world game, since it re­hashes a num­ber of ideas from other third­per­son sand­boxes. Not all are un­wel­come, but the game is at its weak­est when­ever it ven­tures out­side, these spa­ces prov­ing an awk­ward fit for sur­vival-hor­ror sys­tems.

The idea is to scav­enge for sup­plies while tack­ling side mis­sions along the way. Pulling out your hand­held com­mu­ni­ca­tor re­veals dis­tant sig­nals, which you’ll need to face to tune into their fre­quency. Then it’s a case of pulling up your mini-map, mark­ing your des­ti­na­tion and mak­ing your way there while avoid­ing the at­ten­tions of ma­raud­ing mu­tants. You can take them on, of course, but since one of the rea­sons to ex­plore fur­ther is to gather re­sources so you can stock­pile them for trick­ier en­coun­ters, you don’t want to waste too much ammo.

For the most part, stealth is the way to go, then. While en­e­mies are short-sighted, you still need to give them a fairly wide berth, since their awk­ward, jerky move­ments can be hard to read, and there’s al­ways the pos­si­bil­ity of them turn­ing your way at any given time. Since the cover sys­tem is so capri­cious, you’ll of­ten find your­self head­ing for the many con­ve­nient patches of long grass, wherein Se­bas­tian be­comes a glow­ing sil­hou­ette to let you know he’s hid­den. Yet the fo­liage lim­its your view to such a de­gree that it’s hard to see what’s on the other side. And though en­e­mies are stupid, once they’ve caught sight of you they’re ir­ri­tat­ingly per­sis­tent: you can’t ex­pect to sim­ply re­treat into the veg­e­ta­tion and hope they give up the ghost.

Some­times it’s eas­ier just to let your­self be killed rather than car­ry­ing on. A mu­tant’s growl is likely to at­tract oth­ers to your po­si­tion, and the whole thing turns into a farce as you end up trail­ing a conga line of en­e­mies. Castel­lanos might not be as hope­lessly un­fit as he was in the first game, but he can’t sprint for long, and so any dis­tance you put be­tween you and your pur­suers will be closed once his stamina gauge has emp­tied. The whole thing ends up feel­ing silly, and any ten­sion quickly evap­o­rates.

At times you’ve no choice but to en­gage, but deal­ing with a group of en­e­mies can es­sen­tially leave you back at square one, the last 20 min­utes of for­ag­ing yield­ing re­sources you spend in two min­utes of com­bat. If you can cor­ral sev­eral into a tight clus­ter, you can kick over an oil bar­rel and set it alight with a pis­tol shot, or elec­trify pud­dles with bolts from your cross­bow. But that’s a big if – though they’re dumb enough to be dis­tracted by a thrown bot­tle, their er­ratic move­ment rarely means they’re ex­actly where you want them.

It’s not as if wan­der­ing off the beaten track is re­ally op­tional. Dur­ing one boss fight, we run around for 10 min­utes gath­er­ing hand­gun rounds as they spo­rad­i­cally spawn, since our shot­gun is next to use­less on an op­po­nent ca­pa­ble of one-hit melee kills if we get too close. Reload­ing an ear­lier save, we find a sniper ri­fle out­side that makes the en­su­ing en­counter laugh­ably easy. So much for bal­ance.

It’s telling that the best re­wards for ex­plor­ing are the op­tional set-pieces that oc­cur when you en­ter a build­ing. One, in­volv­ing a haunted juke­box and an un­ex­pected re­turn to Castel­lanos’ past, is a creepy stand­out, but the te­dious track­ing mis­sions where you fol­low the traces of Castel­lanos’ daugh­ter Lily are more typ­i­cal of the ob­jec­tives you can ex­pect. When you’re more fo­cused on mark­ing way­points or lock­ing onto tar­gets rather than wor­ry­ing about what’s around the next cor­ner, you’re no longer play­ing a hor­ror game.

This all-see­ing eye has thick ten­drils that slam down into Union’s streets, drop­ping larger op­po­nents that are best avoided

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