This is a sequel that improves on one of the greatest survival horror games ever made in several ways, but somehow reduces the charm.
The Evil Within felt like an indie tribute to classic Japanese survival horror, but with an AAA budget. Its follow-up, The Evil Within 2, feels much more like a big studio production through-and-through, with the good and bad that brings.
It's still a fantastic title and a no-brainer for serious horror fans, for whom it'll be like catnip. This franchise is hardcore, uber-violent and sinister.
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The sequel's addition of open-world elements is a double-edged sword - on the one hand, it's great being able to explore and focus on finding items for upskilling etc, as and when you want. However, it can slow things right down, and it somewhat detracts from the pure horror you get with a more linear experience.
Bizarrely, pretty much the whole first half of the game is really slowly paced. It lacks the awesome mini-bosses that frequented the original and the large few open areas take ages to get through. Everything cranks up considerably for the second half of the game - but I just hope fans endure the more boring bits to get to the real gold that comes later on.
There are extremely cool and original stylistic flourishes, like slow-mo gore as art, a bizarre, bubbly milk monster and the way the town is broken into enormous parts that float around in space. Plus there's a super weird, trippy vibe to the whole thing - it's difficult to tell what's going on a lot of the time, with the incoherent mental horror carried over from the original.
Some well-placed humour is also added in a way that doesn't detract from the horror. I mean, the whole thing is pretty silly, despite how intense it all is - so it's nice when the main character makes jokes.
But when the bad guys are alerted to you and the let out a ferocious roar, then the supremely sinister music kicks in - no matter how many times I hear that, no matter how goofy other parts of the game are, it still makes my heart pound in my chest and the hair stand up on my arms.
The general feeling of having limited supplies to use against an overwhelming force is also well realised, if somewhat let down by the way you can almost always scramble to a safehouse and be out of the monsters' grasp.
One of the biggest blows to Evil Within 2 is the fact that it's been released after Resident Evil 7, which is hands-down the best horror game of 2017.
But for an ultra-gory delight that hits all the right classic survival horror notes, this is a superb sequel and great value for money.
* The Evil Within 2 is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.