This game was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro, it is also available on Xbox One and PC.
This game is set 3 years after the events of Beacon Mental Hospital. The main protagonist is Sebastian Castellanos and since the Evil Within he has left his job at the Krimson City Police Department to try and make sense of what caused the fire that killed his daughter (Lily) and to find where his wife (Myra) ran away to afterwards. The game does an excellent job to make the player feel as if they had only played the first installment of the game just yesterday. You are immediately in the thick of things as soon as the game starts up. From confusion to odd things happening, it honestly feels like you never left the first game.
The story takes place, as previously stated, 3 years from the events at Beacon Mental Hospital. Sebastian has left his job with the sole mission of trying to figure out what caused the fire that took Lily’s life and where exactly his wife went, or drinking himself to death to forget the pain, whichever comes first.
Sebastian is passed out drunk in a bar and upon awakening from his nightmare, he is surprised to see a familiar face, Juli Kidman. Kidman was his partner in the first game and that’s where we found out she worked for Mobius. As you may already know, Mobius is a mysterious group who was behind the creation of the STEM system in Krimson City. Their goal is to create a utopia where everyone is implanted with a chip in their brain for Mobius to control, thus creating a life without conflict, or as Sebastian sees it, no life at all. Well, Kidman still works for Mobius and it is at this point that she finally informs Sebastian that his daughter Lily wasn’t dead. That Mobius agents faked her death in order to kidnap her and use her mind for the core of the STEM machine. She also asks for his help in fixing the machine and in return saving his daughter. Left with no choice, he agrees.
You are now working for Mobius but with an ulterior motive, to save your daughter. Upon entering STEM you are transported to the world in which Mobius has created, a town called Union. In Union it seems like nothing has changed from Beacon. Crazy zombie like creatures are lurking and strange things are happening all around. The one thing that seems to be clear is you aren’t the only person looking for Lily. You will try to locate and assist any Mobius team member in Union and you will come across 3 other people looking to get to Lily before you for their own selfish reasons, for whoever has Lily can control not only Union but Mobius entirely.
Inside Union you will find safe houses controlled by the Mobius team that was sent there to look for Lily. They will provide you with some goods and sometimes a side mission to complete in order to gain access to either parts that are desperately needed or large quantity of items needed to use in order to craft weapons, ammunition, or health packs. They also have interesting tid bits of information for you that will both confuse you and lead you down some narrowing paths in an effort to get as close to Lily as possible.
The game focuses heavily on the stealth option. Although, you could technically run and gun your way through the game but if you are playing on Survival difficulty or higher you would be wise not to try it. Ammo and resources are harder to find in the higher difficulty options making the game all that much more difficult and thought provoking. You will be thinking on your toes quite a bit with this game. They implemented a RPG type tree for your upgrades that you will have to decide based on your play style which upgrades are going to best suit you. You will upgrade using a mysterious green liquid that is gathered after killing a creature with each upgrade costing more of the green liquid the higher you go up the chain. The stealth mechanics in the game are top notch. From just your basic mechanics they added a feature that if you are behind an object simply crouching wasn’t always enough to properly hide you from being spotted. You would have to press R1 in order to snug yourself against the object you were hiding behind.
There are several types of enemies you will encounter while in Union. Some will have predictable patterns to where they will go and what direction they will face, however; some will not. Just when you think you have their pattern down and you start your progress to sneak by them, they will change direction on you and might end up either right behind you or smack in front of you. I found this to be quite fun as it would lead to some jump scares and also add to the immersion factor of feeling like you really were trying to sneak through.
This is where I feel the game lacks to some degree. It seemed that their character models had not changed up too much from their previous title. There were times when the characters would look really good but their facial animations seemed forced and other times where the facial animations seemed pretty decent but the character wasn’t necessarily clear and precise. It didn’t affect the overall immersion but I did take notice as I was looking for any improvements in this area over the last. The one major improvement was where the last game was completely linear and not allowing you to go anywhere they didn’t want. This game was more open world and provided more opportunities to work your way around hunting for supplies and honing your skills. This might have been the reason for the trade off on upgraded character models. With today’s limitations, sometimes the developer is forced to choose where to focus on making their product shine and it become more apparent on this if the developer decides to go open world versus completely linear. That being said, I will take the trade off any day for having this game be the open world genius that it is.
This is an area this game really shined in. I played this game with my Astro A50s (I would highly recommend anyone playing this to use headphones) and I could hear the town of Union as if it was alive in my house. I could hear the different enemies and their footsteps all around me. You could feel the world crumbling through the sounds emitted to your ears. They really took extra care to make sure the sounds of the game were spot on and fluent with the action on the screen. The music added to the overall feeling of being helpless and struggling to find your daughter without being killed along the way.
This is definitely a must own game. The developers did the survival horror genre a great service with making this. They have listened to feedback from their first game and delivered. Not only did they listen, they also expanded on the ideas and they did so with great care. This is a great game for any survival horror fan and even an easy decision maker for those just looking for a single player game with a story you can get lost in. It balances out the weird, alter universe stuff with a good dose of combat and narrative scenes.