The Evil Within 2 and Resident Evil 7
2017 has been a pretty great year for horror games so far, with Resident Evil 7 being our spooky introduction to the year, followed by titles like Outlast 2 and Prey. However, Resident Evil 7 hasn’t really had a lot of competition in the horror department. Not until The Evil Within 2 came along.
Both games excel at delivering a dreadful sense of atmosphere, and they do so in very different ways. We’re going to try to break down these two games in a few categories: story, gameplay, and design. After that, we’ll determine which is the better horror game so far of 2017.
The Evil Within 2 has a pretty messy story. After the events of the first game, Sebastian Castellanos leaves the police force and continues to be tormented by the death of his young daughter and the traumatizing incident at Beacon Mental Hospital. However, Mobius operative Juli Kidman shows up in his life once again to tell him that his daughter is actually still alive, but he needs to enter STEM yet again to rescue her from an experiment gone wrong. I will say that the story and pacing here is handled much better than it was in the first game, which didn’t seem to have any sense of pacing at all. A father looking for his daughter is a pretty cliched trope at this point, but at least it gives players a more personal stake in Sebastian’s adventure this time around.
There are a few twists thrown into the story here and there, but ultimately it’s not exactly a very engaging plot. I attribute this to the fact that Sebastian himself isn’t a very interesting character either, and that isn’t helped by his hit-or-miss voice acting.
Resident Evil 7 doesn’t really fare very well in the story department either, but it is a little more exciting than The Evil Within 2. Protagonist Ethan spent the last three years thinking his wife was dead, only to receive a letter from her asking him to pick her up at the Baker residence in Dulvey. The basic story premise is pretty much the same in both games, but Ethan is a little more relatable because he ends up being the everyman who doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into, and just wants to escape with all his limbs intact.
I’ve personally found the story twists in Resident Evil 7 to be far more interesting as well, with some cool revelations about Mia and the Baker family, not to mention the enigmatic Zoe. While the story does falter in the final act, Resident Evil 7 actually takes the time to build up our relationship with Mia, and this helps to drive the player forward in the mission to rescue her. The Evil Within 2’s depiction of young Lily is often skewed, and she’s mostly presented as a crazy and fiery demonic child. This is a result of Sebastian’s damaged psyche, sure, but it definitely doesn’t make the player feel as strongly about her.
Winner: Resident Evil 7 wins by a very, very slight margin. Both stories aren’t exactly masterpieces, but The Evil Within 2 gets edged out because its competitor was able to nail its characterization a little better.