Sebastian Castellanos has seen some horrible things throughout his life but if you’ve played both games in The Evil Within 2 franchise, you’ve only really accompanied him on his journey, despite controlling and dictating his actions.
That is because in third-person shooters, there is a disconnect between the player and the game world. The player character acts as a buffer. It’s hard to embody a character when you can see what they look like. Not that Castellanos is that strong a character anyway, but that’s beside the point.
While third-person shooters are a popular videogame format, there is no other genre where first-person mode excels more than horror. These types of games take place in worlds that are so visceral and ugly, yet worlds you are actively encouraged to explore and rewarded for your bravery. Also, the restricted vision the player has of their surroundings all lend themselves to excellent experiences. It is a trend that began with Amnesia and Outlast, and even adopted by a AAA title – Resident Evil 7. Even the canned Silent Hills had a first-person demo – the infamous P.T. It is also a trend that has seen many games adopt the style to varying degrees of success. With that said, it is no wonder that Tango Softworks decided to provide players with the choice to switch to FPS mode and this has resulted with a complete upheaval to the way Evil Within 2 looks and plays.
The Evil Within 2 is a game with a keen eye for composition – every scene is laid out to look striking, and the switch to FPS mode really brings these details to the forefront of the experience. The new mode also highlights just how detailed the environments are and the fresh perspective creates a more immersive experience due to how real the locations feel. I know is a hackneyed thing to say when talking about any first-person game experience, but it is especially true for the Evil Within 2, whose locations are a blend of the serenity of small-town America with the grotesque and macabre.
This new mode is not an entirely immersive experience due to certain design choices. The Evil Within 2 is a cinematic game, filled with cut-scenes that are pre-rendered and, therefore, would take additional time and effort to recreate in first-person. As a result, the cut scenes play as normal. This can become jarring as the game snaps you out of FPS mode to deliver more story. This wasn’t an issue when the game originally released as the transition between gameplay and cut scene was seamless. When you are being torn from first-person to watch a cut scene in third-person, this breaks the immersion. What’s more is that many of the scripted moments play out in third-person, which is often when the moments that are scary happen. Over time, you will find that the camera pulls out to third-person ends up signposting when the next scare is coming, which lessens the impact of such moments.
Being a free update, it was unlikely that Tango Softworks were going to recreate every cut scene in first-person to provide that consistency but, as it stands, the experience is dampened as a result.
There are also technical issues surrounding the framerate, which would stutter and freeze during parts of my time spent playing in the new mode. They are not too severe and, at least in my experience, happened infrequently, but this again results in moment where the immersion is broken.
Despite the issues encountered, this new mode, when fully implemented, will be the definitive way to experience the game. Even though I had played The Evil Within 2 to completion and knew what to expect from each scene, I still found myself on edge when encountering some of the games darker imagery from this new perspective.
For more on the Evil Within 2’s FPS mode, take a look at our gallery of screen shots taken using the new mode, or check out the first twelve minutes of gameplay on our YouTube channel.