The Evil Within 2 Nightmare Mode hands-On: Not toning it down
The Evil Within 2 follows in the first's insane footsteps.
The Evil Within promised a twisted, psychological horror with grotesque imagery and savage resource hoarding. While those promises were peppered throughout its 16-hour run, I distinctly remember hanging upside down, rocket launcher in hand, facing the colossal final boss in front of me and thinking "what the hell is going on?". Mikami's return to survival horror brought back the limited resources, the desperation from earlier Resi titles, 1 through to 4. But it still ran with the increasingly insane storylines that the Resident Evil series has been plagued with over the years (with the possible exception of Resident Evil 7).
I liked The Evil Within. I could have loved The Evil Within if its story had some kind of grip on reality. I liked my hour with The Evil Within 2. And I'm sure I could love The Evil Within 2 if it could just reel it in a little and focus on the traits that make it a truly horrifying experience.
Our demo starts with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau impersonator and protagonist Sebastian Castellanos being hunted down by the first game's spider-like Laura demon in a paint by numbers Creepy Location. With no weapons or attacks at your disposal, this intro section plays like a running sequence from Crash Bandicoot. Keep sprinting and everything will be fine. You get a tickle of terror when the sprint runs foul and you hear the beasty gaining on you, but otherwise, this is a run-of-the-mill chase sequence. Fair play. This section succeeded in getting the blood pumping and left me rattled for the gameplay to come.
Next, we end up in another place (time? reality? who knows?), a town called Union where Castellanos has teamed up with Juli Kidman (the undercover Mobius operative who crossed us in the last game) to find Sebby boy's daughter. Was there a daughter mentioned in the last game? I can't remember. But that's just the way things go in The Evil Within.
The first evil residence we barge in on is home to the worst Motherboy contestants ever. A rabid mother force feeds her son some flesh she prepared earlier (sound familiar) then promptly smashes his face against the table when he won't eat his greens, smearing his nose across his face. I've got to admit, I've got a strong stomach for horror but seeing that young hopeful's eyes turned out and his nose smacked out of shape made me wince.
Then we're into the meat of the demo. We delve into the town, where zombies stagger around every corner. The Evil Within 2 has the makings of some solid stealth mechanics. You can crouch stay silent and sneak up on a zombie for a quick and nasty kill, but the cover mechanic needs some work. In its current state, the cover works when you hold in the left bumper, let it slip and you're a sitting duck. This could be something to get used to but in our short demo, it was something that never stuck. I've been mollycoddled too long with snap-to-cover controls and found myself caught out a couple of times or avoiding cover altogether. Playing on nightmare mode meant I used cover and stealth as a crutch to lean on, but I still found myself hopefully dashing for a quick kill when I broke cover.
After the demo, I spoke with a few people who managed to cover more distance than me in the game's story but not knowing if I'd be able to return to this particular area, I found myself scouring the town for its secrets using the game's new objective tracker, a radio that picks up supernatural signals.
And that's where I had the most fun with The Evil Within 2. Stumbling across a hatchet buried in a tree, or getting spooked by a zombie that zipped across my screen in a seemingly off-course alleyway. The Evil Within 2 has scares around every corner and doesn't push the objective down your throat like an overbearing zombie-mammy. That's just the small section I played, though, and if the loopy intro and loose story are anything to go by The Evil Within 2 isn't toning it down anytime soon.
Maybe I should just be happy that this kind of game exists, we'd surely be wanting for its twisted Cronenberg body horror if nothing existed in its place. I just wish I could make some sense of it all.
The Evil Within 2 available now from ozgameshop.com
Pre-order The Evil Within 2 for PS4, Xbox One or PC before 13 October and receive a bonus pin set.View details