A great open world survival horror game
The Evil Within 2 would be a great open world survival horror game if it was actually an open world survival horror game. That's what they sold it as, and I bought it a year after release thinking that that is what it would be. In reality, there are TWO small-ish maps (by open world standards) of open-ended sandbox design alongside about a dozen or so linear action levels that will actually make up the majority of your playtime. The second map is even about half as big and complex as the first one!
Which is a real shame because the open world sandbox stuff is pretty good! The areas are not huge but they're densely packed and keeps the hand holding to a minimum. It's the kind of open world sandbox I like. You're pointed to a location on the map and told to go there, but you're free to approach from any angle and become distracted along the way. Items are found in logical locations, you aren't led around by the nose, you aren't drowning in map icons, and there's cool stuff to find through genuine exploration. Wandering into a random house may lead to an unexpected sidequest, for example. Going into a fenced off area in search of powerups might also just spawn a giant lady with buzzsaws for hands. It kind of felt like a great reinterpretation of the Resident Evil 1 mansion setup: you're free to wander around, but the limited resources you're afforded makes taking risks that much more dangerous and rewarding, until you're forced to scamper back to home base.
The linear levels are.... not bad, but just kind of mediocre compared to how cool the sandboxes are, and it's frustrating to find out how much more prevalent they are. You still have your full breadth of active choice: whether to sneak around stabbing zombies in the back, take them head on in combat, or lay traps for them. You're still struggling with the same limited resources and challenges. It's the same game for all intents and purposes, but it just feels less impactful when the tracks are pulled tight.
I don't know if it's just the PC port or not, but EW2 is very buggy. First off, the cover system is so garbage that using it is a liability much of the time. Second, the protagonist will sometimes not react to his own animations correctly and might teleport or get shoved around because of them. This can impact gameplay on a sometimes-severe level. Once, I was sneaking up on a monster and initiated my super backstab ability, only to have the hero teleport right in front of the monster and get me caught. Another time, the hero had trouble reloading his shotgun because I had made him stand on a crate. The AI is really easy to manipulate as well. Since they lose interest in chasing you once you're out of sight by the end of the game I discovered that a winning tactic is to just run circles around small pieces of environment, or to perform hit and run attacks from areas they are unable to reach.
I can't really speak much for the story or presentation. I didn't really get spooked. Some of the stuff was cool looking I suppose. I was mostly just baffled that a huge chunk of the game seems to borrow thematic elements heavily from The Exorcist II of all things.