The Evil Within 2 Nails Open-World Horror Like No Other Game

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The Evil Within series never really seemed to take off or take hold in the horror consciousness of gaming. The two games, released in 2014 and 2017 respectively, are the brainchild of Shinji Mikami, who played a pivotal creative role in some of the best Resident Evil games, helping the series become the phenomenon it is today. While I never played the first Evil Within (something about its Saw-in-a-psychiatric traps left me completely in a daze), the sequel has had my attention for a long time.


On the one hand, The Evil Within 2 is Resident Evil but smarter, retaining the ‘evil scientific corporations doing evil’ and balls-to-the-wall combat scenarios, while its simulated environment leads to interesting visual experimentation and scenarios. surreal. On the other hand, The Evil Within 2 is ‘Silent Hill 2 but happily dumber’, it largely plays on the horror of the sleepy American city, but instead of using the city as symbolism, it delves into the problem of the protagonist. psyche, the city is instead a virtual space to which thousands of people have connected through the science of evil.

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All things considered, The Evil Within 2’s story is mostly nonsense, but what is No The world design is goofy, somehow managing to squeeze all the scares, frenetic horror, and suspense-building out of a meticulously choreographed horror game into an open-world setting. Horror games aren’t usually open world, because it’s easier to deliver horror when the developer has more direct control over your experience. Just look at all the ‘ghost train’ games out there, or even Resident Evil. Yes, you can explore, say, Resident Evil: Village, in a somewhat non-linear way, but on closer inspection, it’s all just a bunch of corridors, designed to play in a certain order, and limiting you in such a way that you are an easy target for shocks and emotions. Even less linear, more system-based horror games like Alien: Isolation and Amnesia rely heavily on player confinement to function properly.

That’s not the case in The Evil Within 2, where from the start you have a large part of the city to freely explore. That town is Union, which, as mentioned above, is the quintessential ‘quaint American town’ of the Silent Hill/Twin Peaks/Stephen King variety (I would have thought that with all the harrowing horror stories set in these kinds of places, would no longer be seen as so aspirational). The town is actually designed to be idyllic, since it all takes place in a simulation created by a corporation that ultimately plans to enslave the entire world in a simulation using WiFi… or something like that.

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That’s not important. What’s important is that you’re largely free to explore this city, and yet throughout the game’s runtime, it never becomes too familiar or comfortable. There are quaint cottages, auto repair shops, coffee shops, churches, and residential garages to poke around; however, the dynamics of these environments change over time to keep you guessing.

You may think that staying away from monster-infested paths and jumping from garden to garden until you reach your destination is the safest option, but you never know when you’ll step on a monster lying in the tall grass or be ambushed by one of a kind. tree. At one point when I went off the beaten path, I ran into an abandoned train. Once inside, I looked along a couple of carriages and saw a monster under flickering lights that suddenly disappeared from sight. Tentatively approaching the spooky sighting, I failed to see several zombie-like creatures sitting in the seats I passed, bracing myself for a perfectly timed scare and ambush.

Even with this tight little ecosystem of horror, there are also some classic scripted surprises. At an auto repair shop, I read a journal entry that the owners managed to “lock up a bunch of those stuff under the store. Once I hit the button to open a hatch to the shop’s underground, I was so excited getting ready to drop down the hatch that I didn’t notice the Hysteric, a particularly nasty enemy early in the game, who had just shuffled in. the door head down. Only when I heard his guttural growls right in my ear (the enemy’s sound design is fantastic) I shone my torch in the direction of the terrible noise to be greeted with an equally terrible sight.

Union is not a fully open world. The city is literally torn to pieces. Different parts of the city float in the sky at impossible angles, and you can only get to them through The Marrow, a sort of underground tunnel complex that transports you into the Matrix computer-style (the game’s weird science has its own charms).

Union isn’t a huge place by any means, but it is daunting, designed in such a way that every time you step out of the cozy sanctuaries of the safe house, you need to take a deep breath and psych yourself up. There is no fast travel in the world, which makes every run between the safe houses and every supply quest feel dangerous, especially since the monsters in the world increase as you progress through the story, and even the spaces innocuous can betray you when you revisit them. That garage you went to for weapon parts could suddenly have a Spawn lurking in the rafters, while reaching under a car could result in a monster latching onto your arm. The horror elements are simple in themselves, but very impressive in this open world context.

However, The Evil Within 2 is more than just a brilliant open world. It’s an excellent showcase for Weird Horror; there’s a serial killer photographer on the loose, a haunted house you’re constantly transported to, and a black cat with a red bow who gives you Green Gel when you collect slides from the projector. It’s a weird and clever game of a weird and clever mind, and there’s really nothing like it.

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