The Evil Within 2 video game is NOT a ripoff of the “Resident Evil” series. People may say so, but they’re idiots who know nothing about games or game design, and their opinions should be summarily discarded. (As should their right to have any opinions at all.)
The Evil Within 2 isn’t a ripoff of RE, anymore than Bioshock is a ripoff of the original Doom. The Survival Horror genre is a thing, and many games drink deep from the well first tapped by Capcom. (Dead Space 2, as a prime example.) Besides, “The Evil Within” series was created by Shinji Mikami, who also created Resident Evil, so in that sense it’s a Spiritual Successor, not an actual rip-off.
As is appropriate for a spiritual successor, the game can best be described as “part Resident Evil, part Silent Hill, part Inception“. That last might be considered a spoiler, but frankly, anything that appears in the VERY FIRST SCENE OF THE GAME can’t properly be considered a spoiler.
By way of illustration, here’s a proper spoiler (highlight to read): The first boss is basically Sander Cohen from Bioshock. Merry Christmas.
So, other than scarce ammo, wimpy weapons, and powerful enemies, what did Mikami bring over from his storied Zombie Horror game? Start with the obvious: zombies, and the shooting thereof (though it’s often better to just sneak past). On that note, sneaking through a destroyed city infested with monsters. (Too cool.) Over-the-shoulder third person POV. Sparkling plot items. Herbs to make healing kits out of. A big-ass magnum revolver that does tons of damage. A “find and shoot the things” scavenger hunt. A single instance of the RE mainstay “solve the arcane puzzle to open a door”. Another single instance of “stay in one place while waves of zombies attack”. (These last two being more homages to RE than anything else.)
There’s also a bunch of stuff NOT ported over from RE, like the flame zombies (see above). The Obscura. The buzz saw ladies. The onryo. The green goo XP some enemies drop. The upgrade nurse. A full-on crafting system. Shooting range for prizes. Every single other thing about the game, other than the preceding paragraph.
Here’s the thing—none of this really matters, because games are more than the sum of their parts. There’s only two questions that matter:
The Evil Within 2 is DEFINITELY its own thing. Despite sharing some common gameplay elements with RE, it has a ton of unique monsters, a unique setting, and a wholly different feel. Just the nature of S.T.E.M. changes the whole premise of the game. As a basis for a monster outbreak in an idealized small town, it’s head and shoulders above the T-Virus.
Is it fun? I played the hell out of it. Played it twice this week, actually, once for the experience, the second (via New Game +) to get to see what fully upgraded skills and weapons played like, and to pick up several achievements.
The game kept my attention, it was appropriately tense and scary, it had some revolting horror elements, lots of creatures to avoid or, failing that, kill:
See one zombie? Sneak up and take it out. See two zombies? Sneak around to where you can kill one without alerting the other. See three zombies? RUN TO THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN.
Despite my enjoyment, there were some elements I just did not like: The game has far too many “walk very slowly while talking to an NPC” scenes, which I learned to detest from playing Gears of War. The game took control of my character too often, slewing the camera around at the very moment I was doing something I cared about more.
Some of the horror elements were a little too extreme for my tastes, and indeed, in their extremity ceased being horrific (the lake of blood and the theater of explosive bouquets come to mind). Many were just icky, not unsettling.
Spoiler: Every NPC? Really?
The Silent Hillish elements didn’t work for me. The drama was overwrought, melodramatic, and people just talked too damn much. A little emoting goes a long way. The game didn’t make me care about the dad, and spent way too much emotion and screen time trying to do so.
The dad should have done the thing at the end, not the other person. Manly man saving people and such.
Several things were never fully explained, like what caused The Lost in the first place (the Onryo is hinted at, but could she have really cause every single one? And where did she come from to begin with?) This lack of explanation is typical of Japanese horror, though, and is thus excusable (if annoying).
Despite these irritations, overall I liked it. I had fun. And what more can you ask from a game? I bought it for $30 on sale, and got 30+ hours of entertainment out of it. That’s 400% more entertaining, measured solely by $$$ spent, than Justice League.
Would YOU like it? If you’re a fan of Resident Evil or Dead Space, probably. The game has enough in common with its predecessors make it familiar, but is unique enough to be novel. The game can be thought of as “What if Resident Evil truly innovated, instead of manufacturing an endless series of ostensibly new plot elements that somehow turn out to be just like the T-Virus?” And that’s a GOOD thing.
Unless you’re one of those pinhead Resident Evil fans who snarl at any game that has the effrontery to implement game mechanics that RE pioneered. In that case, put The Evil Within 2 back on the shelf, buy one of the many HD RE remake, and veg out to a 20-year-old video game you probably know better than you know your own momma’s face.