PAX West 2017: The Evil Within 2 Needs To Embrace its Insanity

The original Evil Within wasn’t a disappointment, but there was something lacking from it. One possible reason may be that compared to other works by Shinji Mikami such as Resident Evil 4, God Hand or Vanquish, the senses of camp, color and insanity just weren’t as prominent, and despite a few setpieces, more than a few moments came across as being kind of bland. So when The Evil Within 2 debuted at E3 this year with an incredibly surreal and eerie trailer, it suggested that while Shinji would only be an executive producer this time, the sequel would be delving even further into the world of twisted psychological horror that could give this franchise the jolt it needs.

Things perked up even further when we got a first look at one of the game’s villains, the mad artist Sebastian Castellanos, hinting at more colorful personalities in the cast, also allowing for more creative level designs based on their psyches. Alas, he wasn’t entirely present in the PAX West demo beyond some initial glimpses and teases. Somewhat understandable, as we were only covering the beginning sections of the game at the moment, so we didn’t have much time for anything too elaborate. Okay, there was that part where the massive, multi-headed giggling monstrosity with the giant buzzsaw chased us, but that was just for an opening action sequence with some jump scares. Even Sebastian seemed to mock this bit in-game.

After that, though, we entered the mental town of Union, with Sebastian seeming a bit blind to its weirdness (such as a tree shaped like a brain as its logo or the sounds of a mother violently force-feeding their child, which should’ve both been red flags). After that, a lot of the initial demo played out similarly to the first game, with some sort of plague creating zombie-like monsters, stealth mechanics that encourage you to creep around them, crafting elements that allow you to create supplies, et cetera. Some notable new additions do involve the addition of regenerating coffee to safe rooms that you can drink to fill up your health, and a radio that allows you to track quest objectives by tuning into certain frequencies, though it’s unknown if this will be used for other chapters beyond the third.

There are also upgrades gained by being strapped into a sinister chair and being administered them by an eerily calm woman Sebastian seemed to be familiar with, which gained back some insanity points. But honestly? The post intriguing part of the demo involved a cat. A seemingly regular cat. No, really.

During a section where we were transported into Sebastian’s old office, complete with monochrome visuals in the hallways and little flickers, we came across an unlockable slide. At that point, a black cat with a ribbon shows up, seemingly introducing us to the projector where we could view the slide containing a picture of Sebastian’s family. No big creepiness or anything, just a regular cat that comes and goes. So why the cat? What is the significance? Is there a connection between it and any of the main characters? These aren’t questions born out of confusion, mind you, but rather intrigue, and I genuinely want to know more. It almost felt like a scene from a game by SWERY (which given the coffee mechanic mentioned above and the reveal of his new game, feels like an odd coincidence).

The demo ended with Sebastian still trying to find radio transmissions hinting at the location of his missing daughter, right before an ethereal ghostly figure attacked him in an Evil Dead first-person fashion, cutting away before we could see what happens. While the demo was still good, a showcase of the basics may not have been the best choice for a hands-on experience when it comes to leaving impressions. For The Evil Within 2 to work, it needs to tighten the mind screws even more, which the rest of the game seems to hint at. Hopefully this will end up being the case when the game comes out on October 13 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.