SPECIAL FEATURE: Within Us All - The Evil Within 2

Joab Gilroy
SPECIAL FEATURE: Within Us All - The Evil Within 2

The Evil Within 2 shows Mikami's genius.

Shinji Mikami's collaboration with Bethesda, The Evil Within, was a return to form for video games' master of horror. Drawing deep on his experiences scarring millions with the Resident Evil series, he weaved a terrifying, tense tale where you barely had time to recover from your last scare before the dread filled you again. Still, it wasn't for everyone. Some had issues with the old school design, as they felt a little railroaded by the game's level layouts and objective system.

The Evil Within 2, on the other hand, shows that old dogs can learn new tricks. It shouldn't come as a surprise; Mikami wasn't only the director of the methodically paced Resident Evil — he gave the world the Action Horror genre in Resident Evil 4 as well. And this is the well that The Evil Within 2 heads to, ramping up the pace and widening the levels to accommodate more varied playstyles.

Now players can more easily define how they play on the fly — they can ping at the nastiness from the shadows with Sebastian's crossbow, run away like Brave, brave Sir Robin or unleash hell with what little ammo they have available.

Where the first game was more grounded (well, relatively speaking), The Evil Within 2 looks to sever itself from reality more thoroughly as it weaves Sebastian's redemptive story of pain, suffering and horror. He partners with Mobius, the corporation behind his former perils, in an attempt to retrieve his daughter — and you can already tell it's going to cost him more than just his pride to team with them.

With a gut-wrenching focus on straddling the line between white-knuckle tension and abject horror, the real surprise in The Evil Within 2 is how much freedom is afforded the player. It's up to you how fast or slow you go through Mobius' world of nightmares, how deep into the outer reaches you stretch yourself as you search for Sebastian's daughter.

This is surprising, because so many horror games restrict players harshly to increase the underlying tension. With games like Resident Evil 7 drawing heavily on cinema to better scare players, The Evil Within 2 instead looks at how games can create a different, completely interactive scare. For those horror games that seek to hamper player's choices, the logic is sound — freedom of choice is naturally liberating, so removing it increases tension significantly.

The Evil Within 2 instead gives players the choice — and increases tension by punishing them heavily when they choose wrong. It's similar in design to how Dark Souls creates its underlying, ever present current of pressure — sometimes the freedom to choose is a greater burden than being made to follow.

It's an innovative way to approach horror gaming from one of the masters of the genre, a tactic that whisks the player away on an interactive nightmare as they push themselves further and further into its world. Out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, it's worth diving into for horror and action fans alike.

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Tags: bethesda , Retail News , The Evil Within 2

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