Released on the perfect date of Friday the 13th earlier this month, The Evil Within 2 sees players reunited with Sebastian Castellanos and the infamous STEM system. Searching for his daughter, Lily following her apparent death in a tragic house fire many years before, he’s plunged into a world of horror once more and must track down his loved one before the world around him completely crumbles. It sounds like the perfect recipe for a survival horror game, but how does it stack up when compared to everything else on the market?

The first thing fans of the original game will notice is the jump in beauty when it comes to the sequel’s graphics. Most titles these days look like they’re ripped from the movie theatre, and this is no exception. Developer Tango Gameworks have ensured that this jump into a mostly open-world is one that stuns with its visuals as well as its scares, and when it comes to the score and soundtrack that work alongside it, you’re left with the perfect concoction.

Though there are many who have already completed the game and say there weren’t a lot of shocks running throughout The Evil Within 2, I thought that the tension building and suspense that lurked around every corner was something unrivalled by recent releases. Turning off the lights, playing with a headset and ensuring your environment in real life is a steady and calm one really allows you to fully immerse yourself within the dangerous world of Union, and that’s coming from somebody who considers themselves a horror veteran!

What a world Union is. It completely blows everything players explored in the first game out of the water. Instead of singular levels that proceed in a linear and traditional fashion, gamers are this time thrown into an open world full of treasures and supplies to be found, as well as set pieces that trigger optional events and side adventures that bring excitement and more thrills to the overall experience. Players are never able to guess what’s around each corner, with erratic changes to the environment exploiting the unpredictability of the STEM system. The only downside to this change in play is that sometimes, a player will have to re-tread ground they’ve already been through if they’ve missed a necessary item or event trigger that’ll allow them to get to the next stage of the game. It’s something all open world games suffer from, but can feel a little more stagnant in the world of survival horror, as it takes away from the pacing.

Sebastian has grown as a protagonist, becoming a hardened and more realistic version of the man he was in the first game, and understanding better than he ever did before the world he’s forced to become a part of once again. With that growth comes a brilliant arsenal of weaponry to take down enemies, though every potential fight the player comes across is one that should be studied and carefully considered. Not every battle is one worth engaging in, with stealth all but essential at times.

His main antagonists are weirdly wonderful people. They're scary in that they're real-life psychopaths rather than manevolent monsters, who bend the world around them to their own means and devices. They've built a lawless environment and will take down anybody who comes into the world they've claimed as their own.

References to a variety of horror franchises shows that those who have worked on the game have a deep respect for the genre they’re cementing a legacy for themselves in, and aside from some minor annoyances with the control system in the first few hours of gameplay, all the right ingredients seem to be in place to ensure a lengthy and compelling adventure that concludes in a way that ensures the game will stick with you for some time.

The Evil Within 2 is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. 

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