What is The Evil Within 2?
Still mourning the loss of his daughter to a house fire, you play as ex-detective Sebastian Castellanos, the returning protagonist of the first game, as a face from the past appears to deliver some life changing news. Although at first he can't believe it, it turns out his daughter isn't actually dead - she's just been taken, and is being used in an experiment to essentially power an alternate reality. Or at least, she was. All of a few weeks ago, Lily suddenly stopped replying, and has essentially gone missing within the alternate reality. With contact having been lost with the team that went into rescue her, it's up to you to venture into the mysterious STEM world, and into the idyllic town of Union, to find out what's gone so horribly wrong, discover what happened to the search party, and save your daughter's life.
How do you play The Evil Within 2?
A survival horror game at heart, The Evil Within 2 is set across an open town, which is yours to explore as you wish. Though the story will see you tracking down the agents that went in before you - and your daughter - you'll need to take time out to scour the town's many buildings, as you scavenge the parts you'll need to craft bullets and health packs to survive. With both ammo and health being in short supply, the more parts you can find, the more likely you are to be able to stay alive, with the game encouraging you to explore each and every building you find, from houses and garages, to visitor centres and churches.
Of course, you're not alone in the alternate reality. For reasons that are yet to become clear, almost every resident in the town has been turned into a zombie - and now they're vying for your blood. With a mysterious story to tell, and a much greater emphasis on psychological horror, this is a game designed to make you feel nervous, with rooms that change when you turn around, mysterious creatures that pursue you, and flashbacks that ask many more questions than they answer.
How easy is The Evil Within 2 to pick up and play?
As a survival horror game with a major emphasis on the survival, The Evil Within 2 is challenging, but not impossible. With ammo and health packs both being very hard to come by in-game (and with your character only being able to carry a very limited supply of each), every bullet counts - and with zombies that tend to jump around a lot, you'll need to be very careful with your aim. Luckily, an optional aim assist will snap your aim straight to the head of the zombie you're aiming at if you squeeze the left trigger, which can be a great help for new players.
However, with the main character only able to take a handful of hits, being swarmed by enemies can be deadly - especially as the game introduces new, faster, and more powerful zombie types, with much less obvious (and harder to hit) weak spots. While scavenging components to craft items will help, as you can only hold a finite amount of both bullets and health kits to begin with, your preparation will only take you so far. As such, The Evil Within 2 is a game that places a lot of emphasis on situational awareness, reactions, dual analogue stick control and shooter skills - and even with aim assist turned on, it provides a hefty challenge.
Luckily, there's a choice of three difficulty levels here, with the lowest letting you take more damage - although it's worth noting you won't be able to change the difficulty level once you start playing. If you think there's a chance you might find yourself struggling later, you should start this one on easy just in case.
In terms of accessibility, The Evil Within 2 is fully voiced, and fully subtitled.
With strong bad language and graphic violence throughout, The Evil Within 2 is a horror game that doesn't shirk away from gore. One of the first scenes shows you a slow motion looping replay of a man being shot in the head, with the back of his skull being blown open, and a stream of blood/grey matter arching out. Decapitations and dismemberments are also common, while some scenes also show rotting flesh, characters skin essentially melting, or characters being stabbed (and having to pull the knife out). In terms of bad language, "f**k", "sh*t" and "as*hole" all make regular appearances.
Format Reviewed: PC