We recently got our hands on The Evil Within 2 at Gamescom, and we liked what we played so much that when Bethesda invited us to meet them in London to play a completely new section of the game, we jumped at the opportunity to see something different.
It was hard to get your head around what exactly happened in the first chapter of The Evil Within. A crazy scientist created a machine, STEM, inside of which he could live in his memories as if they were real. Investigator Sebastian Castellanos was sent in to save a patient, and following that, a lot of nasty stuff went down. In The Evil Within 2, our main man Castellanos is contacted by his former partner, who subsequently explains to him that a secret organisation has created a new STEM machine, this one based on Sebastian's own daughter's brain. Of course, his daughter was supposed to have died years earlier, so he has to go back into STEM's troubling world in order to find her and save her.
The demo we got to see in London started off well. Sebastian entered a dark room where the beam from his torch flickered across a number of bodies hanging from the ceiling, and it's not long before a wall comes down and a monster thunders through and into Sebastian. This creature had long black limbs, and instead of a right hand she had a huge circular saw. One proper look at this thing was enough for us to make for the exit and run down the connecting hallway. Sebastian has a limited amount of energy, though, and a stamina-meter in the left corner of the screen started flashing red. Our hero used up the last of his reserves to reach a door, and then suddenly he found himself in a house and the monster was gone.
Based on what we've seen so far, then, The Evil Within 2 comes with the same distorted world as the first, and common logic won't always get you out of a bind. The first thing you'll notice when you pick up the game, though, is how much the controls have improved. The strange stiffness from the first is gone, and Sebastian is easier to control, which should make for a more enjoyable overall experience.
The majority of our demo took place in a much more open area. Using a form of radio receiver, you can search for signals in the area, and these then mark points of interest, which either turn into a form of side mission or take you further into the main story. Most of this section was based in this more open area, set around a small town, so we can't comment on how dominant this feature will be overall, but it does lighten a bit of the claustrophobic tension that the game had in the beginning. In many ways, this section hints at the influence of games like The Last of Us, as the area was filled with zombie-like creatures that you have to sneak past using tricks such as throwing bottles to distract them, or killing them by sneaking up behind them.
There seemed to be a number of different paths we could choose to take, but unfortunately we didn't get to explore as much as we'd have liked, because a ghost suddenly manifested herself in front of Sebastian and killed him, and the demo was over. What we could see is that this small town was located near some kind of military base (it could have been a scientific facility to be fair), ominous dark Woods surrounding this mysterious location, and buildings twisted into the sky in disturbing ways. It's an environment we're looking forward to exploring further, that's for sure.
The Evil Within 2 does a lot of good things, but there wasn't a huge amount of terror this latest, final demo. Instead, it felt more like a stealth game with a horror theme. However, the overall quality of the world and its design is very high, and the game doesn't pull any punches when comes to graphic violence. For example, we encountered a woman in a house who was force-feeding her son something, a sinister and harrowing image if ever there was one. The open area we saw has allowed Tango Gameworks the freedom to explore ground previously covered by titles like The Last of Us, but whether or not it can maintain the sense of horror during these sections, we will have to wait and see. There is no doubt, however, that The Evil Within 2 holds plenty of promise, and it's one that horror fans should keep an eye on ahead of its release on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on October 13.