Despite quickly establishing itself as one of the most exciting survival horror franchises, it seems like there isn’t a lot of enthusiasm for a third installment of The Evil Within.
*Spoilers for The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2*
It’s been only a year since the release of The Evil Within 2, but somehow it feels much longer; as if we’ve all decided it’s time to move on from the game like a half-remembered dream. Maybe that’s because it hasn’t received any major DLC expansions. Or perhaps getting sandwiched between Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and the remake of Resident Evil 2 left too little room in the collective gaming consciousness to cling on to.
Whatever the reason, there’s a sinking feeling I can’t escape that tells me we’ve seen the last of this magnificent nightmare, but I believe we need another trip into STEM with The Evil Within 3.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that like a lot of initial entries in new IPs, The Evil Within is a little rough around its rusty, blood-drenched edges. Technical performance is less than ideal, the story drags on way longer than needed and the final battle undercuts much of what the game strives to achieve. But what it does do right, it does really right.
Without a wink or a nod, it puts the player’s mind in a fog so dense that at first, it seemed almost aimless and riddled with plotholes. But through this deliberate and carefully crafted veil, it’s able to achieve its true goal of taking the player through an unsettling tour of a psychopath’s mind. It genuinely surprises with the way it contorts itself to build a hauntingly beautiful world where up is down, and green equals four.
This type of atmosphere and horror is not easy to pull off, as you can’t rely solely on big monsters accompanied by loud noises. Instead, it’s something you have to build over time; a relationship with the player in which both parties agree to go on a journey together rather than be at odds with one another. This isn’t to say that The Evil Within is the preeminent example of psychological horror in video games, but it does it in a way that nothing else currently does, thanks to an unwavering dedication to its vision and embrace of mechanics that empower the player.
Building on the foundation of the original, while unafraid to re-examine core design principles, The Evil Within 2 is a follow up that’s bigger and better in almost every way. I say almost because its one misstep is an environment that feels just ever so slightly safer in comparison.
The game still confidently exudes its brand of horror, but the new open world spaces are comparatively ordinary to the linear sections of both games, inherently allowing the player so much leeway that there’s a measurable loss of menace.
But it was also a conscious choice; The game wants Sebastian and the player to overcome fear. And it does this with markedly improved mechanics and gameplay systems: more nuanced and better-balanced upgrade paths, worthwhile exploration, side missions that offer a rewarding change of pace, and refined stealth combat with brutal finishers that never grow stale.
It’s incredibly polished, engaging, addicting, and stands toe-to-toe with even the best of what the third person shooter genre has to offer.
Perhaps it’s just anecdotal, but it seems that the third game in a fair number of series tends to find difficulty in being something other than divisive at best. Whether due to the eternal struggle of increasing commercial success or the burden of finding new ways to expand an established franchise, they often try to mix the formula up, getting a little weird in the process.
Luckily, The Evil Within is at its best when it’s getting freaky. We’ve gone into the mind of the villain with Ruvik and the one we’re trying to save with Lily and Union. The third visit to STEM would be the perfect opportunity to specifically explore the depths of our own protagonist, viscously tearing apart the wall between reality and simulation in the process.
The Evil Within has flirted with some of the more serious implications of what surviving STEM can do to someone, but like PT, Eternal Darkness, and Silent Hill 2, let’s see it in full force and go on a journey that leaves us questioning even our own minds. A game that combines the unrelenting dedication to thoughtful horror like the original, with the streamlined mechanics, structure, and systems of the sequel, would have the chance to be something too great for the wider gaming community to ignore.
Familiar with but still susceptible to the torment of STEM, a fitting candidate to take us through such an ordeal would be Sebastian’s main confidant throughout the series, Juli Kidman. She’s capable, motivated, and even emanates some of that Leon S. Kennedy calm coolness that Sebastian lacks. And while he, at least temporarily, rides off into the sunset, Kidman is not the type to let her guard down or assume her work is finished.
There’s still the matter of her somewhat personal rival Joseph Oda, cleaning up the tendrils of Mobius, and hints at the end of both games that suggest Ruvik has yet to make his final move. There’s a whole host of potential launching points that not only make sense with the established lore but could also continue the trend of stories driven by strong personal motivations that The Evil Within 2 did so well.
Shinji Mikami is an unquestionable survival horror genius. Not only did he make the original Resident Evil but he then took that already incredible game and turned it into a timeless classic with its remake. What did he grace us with after that? Only a little thing called Resident Evil 4, one of the most beloved and endlessly replayable games ever created.
And although he passed on directorial duties with The Evil Within 2 for a producer’s role, it’s still a world conceived and nurtured by one of the greatest minds in not just survival horror, but video games in general. There’s so much potential waiting to be unleashed with The Evil Within, that it should be considered a crime by Bethesda not to make it happen.
But maybe Tango Gameworks doesn’t want to, and that would certainly be more than fair. Working on a single franchise for so many years, especially one as heavy as The Evil Within, undoubtedly takes its toll. And even if we never get the third installment, it’s hard to be too upset considering the fitting send-off provided by The Evil Within 2.
That being said, I absolutely believe it’s a series that deserves to be cherished and remembered more than it currently is and, unfortunately, more than it maybe ever will be.
The views expressed in this article explicitly belong to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of, nor should be attributed to, App Trigger or FanSided as an organization.