Psychological horror returns in ‘The Evil Within 2’

By Russell Zazueta

Like preparing to watch a good horror flick, turn off the lights, close the door to your room and take a ride into the terrifying world of the video game The Evil Within 2.

The nightmare continues with the return of Sebastian Castellanos, the now-retired detective, three years after the incident at Beacon hospital, where an unsolved mysterious mass murder took place. Castellanos’ former partner Juli Kidman finds Castellanos drunk and in a pitfall of despair. He blames himself for the death of his daughter, who he couldn’t save from a fire that killed her.

Much like the original game released in 2014, part two is bent on psychological horror. It belongs to a genre called “survival horror,” meaning gun ammunition and first-aid kits are scarce to find, forcing players to use items sparingly in their encounters with monsters. 

Photo Courtesy of Tango Gameworks

Sometimes, it’s impossible to ration the ammunition because of so many encounters. The only options left are to wield a melee weapon that will not do much damage, or to run like hell and hide. This bone-chilling experience reigns supreme in “The Evil Within 2.”

Master of the genre, Shinju Mikami, who was involved in the making of “The Evil Within” 1 and 2, is the same director and producer who gave us the classic games “Resident Evil” (1996) and “Dino Crisis” (1999).

For “The Evil Within 2,” Mikami and his team used a similar idea from the film “The Matrix,” and built on a story where people plug into a device that transports them to an artificial world called STEM. The shadow corporation Mobius recruits volunteers to permanently live in a virtual town called Union, where they are promised a happy life exempt of pain and suffering. Everything inside STEM looks and feels like reality.

The experimental project, however, goes wrong. Union begins to fall apart and most of its citizens transform into grotesque, rabid creatures because of a malfunction caused by the disappearance of the system’s core. The few that survive are ripped to shreds by these creatures and Mobius can’t help them because the corporation is shut out of the system. It’s in this state of chaos, that the game introduces STEM to us.

During the mess, Kidman explains to Castellanos that his daughter is still alive and missing inside STEM. Castellanos’ evil adventure to rescue her begins here.

With a new voice actor in place, Castellanos’ acting improves from the original, adding more emotion to the dialogue and showing more depth in his character.

Players can now enjoy an open world map, like “Silent Hill: Downpour,” where players can explore freely in the game instead of being forced to follow a set path on the map. The game developers also added workbenches, where players can now create ammunition from materials found throughout the game.

Like most of Mikami’s games, the character perspective is in third-person – an outer-body view of the character – and gives players beautifully detailed and deranged environments to explore. There are many survivors along the journey that aid the players’ character. Many cinematic scenes immerse players further into the story. These elements are well executed, and the game itself is a melting pot of other great survival horror games such as the “Silent Hill” series, “the Resident Evil” series, “The Last of Us” and “Alan Wake.”

Plenty of hideous creatures lurk in the town of Union, created by villains who learn to manipulate everything inside STEM.

Stefano Valentini is a villain in STEM who runs wild with imagination, giving players a creepy, 10-foot creature composed of multiple heads, mutilated remains for a body, a circular saw for an arm and a chilling giggle that will curve players’ spine. This creation is just one of the morbid things that will keep players running around town.

The musical score contains a lot of the fear-invoking suspense players will experience. It complements the grim environment with subtle, ominous tones that will keep players afraid of the dark. When you run away from monsters here, the music runs with you.

With the story being more about Castellanos’ personal life, players will understand Castellanos’ reason for enduring the horrors in Union. By the end of the game, players will know why he should be dad of the year.  “The Evil Within 2” is rated M and is available on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC.

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