Fans of the original game were happy to see The Evil Within 2 revealed at E3 earlier this year. While its predecessor had some rough edges, it was a promising horror game in an underserved genre, with flashes of the same magic that made Resident Evil 4 one of the most critically acclaimed titles of all time.

The big question was, could the sequel build upon the foundations laid by the first game and solidify the budding franchise as a bona fide horror classic. Now, the first round of reviews for The Evil Within 2 are hitting the Internet, and by all accounts, this is largely the follow-up that fans were looking for.

With Halloween just two weeks away, it seems that The Evil Within 2 is the season’s must-play horror release, even if some of the changes to the formula established by the original don’t quite land.

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Game Rant (Dalton Cooper)

2014’s The Evil Within was a game stuck between two generations. Created with both seventh and eighth generation consoles in mind, the game didn’t quite take advantage of the added horsepower of the PS4 and Xbox One. With The Evil Within 2, Tango Gameworks was able to focus solely on newer consoles and PC, resulting in a much more impressive experience that should greatly please fans of the survival-horror genre.

Score: 4.5/5

US Gamer (Mike Williams)

The Evil Within 2 is everything I wanted from the first game. Every major complaint I had about the first game is at least addressed in some manner, though the tweaks aren’t always perfect. It’s a unique psychological horror title with Resident Evil 4‘s action combat. Tentatively, for those folks who weren’t a fan of Capcom’s reboot with Resident Evil 7, The Evil Within offers something that you might like, while blazing its own trail.

Score: Review in progress.

IGN (Lucy O’Brien)

After finishing The Evil Within 2 I was exhausted, like I’d been through an ordeal. Thinking back on my 20 hours with it, I had. The Evil Within 2 is an ambitious, genuinely tense, and at times brutally difficult experience, but one that left me exhilarated. Like the original before it, The Evil Within 2 may not know how to deliver convincing dialogue or maintain a consistent tone, but it does know that the mark of pure survival horror is to leave you feeling like you only just survived, time after time after time.

Score: 8/10

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GameSpot (Alessandro Fillari)

There’s generally more of an adventurous feel compared to the original’s isolated levels. With more side characters to interact with–opening up moments of dialogue that flesh out the story–and optional events scattered around the world, there’s a level of freedom and variety in The Evil Within 2 that was largely absent from the first game.

Score: 8/10

Eurogamer (Edwin Evans-Thirwell)

The sequel is another curious outgrowth, but its changes and additions often feel more wayward than fascinating, and in key respects – the story, certain levels, those niggles in stealth and combat – it falls rather flat. Still, there are chills and spills enough here to sate most patrons of the bloody arts. Whether a third game is warranted at this point is another matter.

No score given.

Game Informer (Suriel Vazquez)

During the first few hours, sneaking is almost mandatory, since combat is brutally difficult. You may be lucky to get one bullet for every few enemies as you make your way between checkpoints. Enemies also behave erratically and are quick enough to keep up, which means even stealth isn’t a foolproof approach. These are welcome curveballs to make sure players don’t get too comfortable; as soon as you’ve figured out the patterns of one enemy, you start seeing new enemies that throw a wrench in your strategy.

Score: 7.75/10

Polygon (Philip Kollar)

I’m currently eight hours into The Evil Within 2, and what’s most impressive so far is how this sequel addresses each individual complaint about the first game one by one, like it’s working through a checklist. And it does all of this on top of greatly expanding in scope and freedom.

Score: Review in progress.

It seems that Tango Gameworks has taken on board a lot of the criticisms leveled at The Evil Within — and has taken a few risks, to boot.

The game’s shift from a completely linear structure to something on the verge of an open-world is particularly interesting. While most critics agree that it’s not the most compelling sandbox ever created, there’s plenty going on, and it doesn’t detract from the game’s scare factor at all.

Horror fans were graced with the excellent Resident Evil 7 earlier this year, but that game obviously diverged pretty far from the mold established by Resident Evil 4. Anyone looking for an experience more in that vein will likely be well-served by The Evil Within 2.

The Evil Within 2 is out now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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