The Evil within 2
STEMming the tide against the latest wave of nightmares
Detective Sebastian Castellanos must fight to survive a world so twisted and nightmarish it could only have been created by Resident Evil veteran Shinji Mikami. We’ve gotten our hands on the game, and they’ve come away shaking.
With the introduction of broader levels and an open style of play, you might worry that this survival horror shocker would lose its predecessor’s power to give you the creeps. Don’t. Within our demo, we encounter enough gore and weirdness to ensure that sleep will be much harder to get when October rolls around. That’s because poor ol’ detective Sebastian Castellanos is hopping into the STEM machine once again. If the convoluted mythology of the original is hard to follow, this sequel presents a simpler narrative. Seb discovers that his dead daughter, Lily, is in fact alive and being used by the shadowy (naturally) corporation MOBIUS to power their STEM. The piece of tech is a bit like Inception’s dream diving, except swap dapper Tom Hardy for terrifying manifestations of a subconscious’ evil. To save his daughter, Sebastian will have to dive back into the nightmares once more.
If all that sounds a little too close to retread territory in story terms, the systems that shape this experience are anything but. The biggest overhaul comes in the form of larger levels, which are not only sprawling places to explore, but come with optional objectives that play an important part in the journey. Whether it’s gathering the tools you’ll
“the open play style means you can plant traps, quietly take down monsters, or perform a lead exorcism on them”
need for taking on the Haunted that roam around the new location of Union, or stumbling upon a much larger group of monsters than you might expect, the increased size makes surviving a more rewarding endeavour.
We get a taste of this at the start of Chapter 3, as we head out onto the streets in search of Lily. The city looks like any typical American small town… except for the roaming hordes of zombie-like creatures, and the broken landscape that sees buildings somehow hovering above the horizon.
To help us find his daughter, we use Seb’s Communicator to scan for her location. While we pick up on her signal, and can tell it’s a fair way north, we also spot another one closer by. It’s the last-known location of a MOBIUS agent who’s also trapped within the STEM machine. This dynamic of choosing between ploughing head-first into the story or exploring Union more thoroughly by completing side-quests is a clever escalation of the usual survival horror trope of scouring your environment for any advantage. Naturally, we plump for the latter and decide to see if they’re a) alive and b) willing to give us some gear.
Here to yelp
We follow the signal and end up sneaking onto a roof, to find a dead body slumped in the corner and a bulky Haunted patrolling around it. So much for the alive part, but as they’re dead, they’re hardly going to object if we pinch at least something from them.
One of the key themes of combat is an open play style, where you can plant traps, quietly take down monsters, or perform a lead exorcism on them. Unfortunately for us, our inventory is currently a pistol with four bullets, so we plump for stealth. Manoeuvring between convenient cover, the intentionally jerky animations make picking a time to leap out difficult to gauge, but when we commit and ghost up on our foe, we audibly sigh with relief as Seb’s knife finishes him off instantly. Our reward for this nervy few minutes? A broken rifle that needs another part to fix it. Gah. On the other hand, it does mean the Green Gel we take from our victim will purely be for upgrading the good detective – a returning mechanic from the first game – as there’s now a specific currency for upgrading guns in the form of weapon parts. Now, if we go hunting for all the rifle pieces, we could use them to build a new weapon to help us in our quest to save Lily as we fight through Union. But, for the time being, we fancy sorting ourselves out some more pistol ammo so we can try our hand at a few headshots. You’ll be able to make ammo or healing items at a Safe House or on the fly, but in an effective twist we’ll no doubt curse at some point, crafting bullets away from a work bench or Safe House will cost more resources. Each shot feels important when missing one means backtracking or wasting precious resources to get more ammo. In this case, though, we judge it worth the risk for the chance to pop a few heads, and extravagantly pour every bit of gunpowder on our person into a few more pistol bullets.
As we move further through the level, we spot a disused train and decide to explore inside. After a pants-endangering jump scare where a Haunted comes crashing through a locked door, we try a
Format PS4, XO, PC Publisher Bethesda Developer Tango Gameworks ETA 13 October Running away is a valid option this time around, and can be a good way to save resources. Also: your life.
Difficulty comes in three flavours: ‘Casual’, ‘Survival’, and ‘Nightmare’. We’ll let you figure out which one is the easier of the three.