The Evil Within 2 is creeping into stores soon, and with less than a month to go until its Friday the 13th release date, the series’ vocal fanbase is clamoring for blood.
The Evil Within 2’s marketing material has promised many of the same things that its predecessor had: a creepy atmosphere, a grizzled protagonist, and a whole gaggle of creatively deformed monsters. Seriously, in what other game can players expect to run into a man-eating, anthropomorphic spotlight wearing high heels?
Though The Evil Within was a spooky enough game and its misshapen denizens stood out even in a genre full of terrifying ghouls, the game was not without its flaws. Series creator Shinji Mikami may be a masterful horror game designer (Resident Evil, anyone?) but even under his thumb, The Evil Within suffered drawbacks in storytelling, game design, art, and system performance. These are flaws that The Evil Within 2 needs to fix, both to save the series from irrelevance and to make itself a landmark horror game.
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The first flaw that The Evil Within 2 needs to nip in the bud ASAP is the series’ camera design. The first title’s over-the-shoulder camera was nauseating; it was so close to the player character that it should really have been called an over-the-ear camera. Back that camera up a good 2-3 feet, Shinji. The Evil Within had enough terrifying sights without having to glimpse down Sebastian Castellanos’s ear canal.
Secondly, The Evil Within 2 needs to string its levels together more cohesively than the first game did. The levels in The Evil Within were scary, but they didn’t carry into each other. They could’ve been shuffled into any order and the game’s narrative wouldn’t have changed all that much. The Evil Within 2 can correct this mistake by making its levels more connected. This will help the game feel like a united production instead of a series of spooky level concept demos.
Thirdly, The Evil Within 2 needs a greater emphasis on stealth. The first game paradoxically expected players to be sneaky but provided absolutely no stealth upgrades or tweaks. Fortunately, if the adverts are to be believed, The Evil Within 2 will feature stealth upgrades that the player can access and utilize. There’s no right way to play a horror game like The Evil Within, but sneaking around is a great way to up the tension and preserve the feeling of being alone and vulnerable in a world of monsters.
And we can’t forget the most important aspect: The Evil Within 2 needs a cohesive story. The first game’s narrative was serviceable, but suffered from plot holes and inconsistencies whose lack of organization was on par with that of the aforementioned level design. The game never explained why Sebastian ended up in the world of STEM or why Ruvik took a special interest in him; it just handed players a lantern and said have fun, kids.
The Evil Within 2 needs a compelling narrative, and Sebastian’s quest to save his daughter might just be the ticket. Hopefully, though, The Evil Within 2 won’t mistake heartfelt character motivation for strong writing, as even the talents of Ansem Mount (Cullen Bohannon in Hell on Wheels) could only do so much against the stilted dialogue.
If The Evil Within 2 can avoid these mistakes, it has the potential to be a great horror game comparable to Resident Evil 4. Hopefully Shinji Mikami has implemented these and other fixes, because it just isn’t a fun Halloween without a metal-headed monster swinging an oversized weapon around. The Evil Within 2 bursts onto store shelves on Friday, October 13.