The Evil Within began as Shinji Mikami‘s return to Survival Horror and has since grown into two games, several DLC expansions, and a fan favorite series. Shinji Mikami himself directed the first game of the series and made a lot of changes and quality of life upgrades to the Survival Horror genre, which at the time was largely action focused, and had been since he directed Resident Evil 4. John Johanas, director of The Evil Within 2, continued to improve on what Shinji Mikami had done in the first game. The changes that these directors made to their games went a long way to bringing Survival Horror back to its roots while modernizing it at the same time. The story of The Evil Within is compelling and tragic, but a bit light on protagonist development. The Evil Within 2 remedies this, but becomes a bit complicated, particularly with the number of antagonists it introduces. Despite these shortcomings, the overall narrative that has been crafted is fascinating and seemingly paves the way to a dramatic conclusion in a third installment.
Spoiler Warning! – From Here on there are spoilers for The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2!
The Evil Within – Recap
The Evil Within‘s story follows Sebastian Castellanos, a grizzled, alcoholic detective who has clearly seen better days. Sebastian, his partner Joseph Oda, and a junior detective, Juli Kidman, are called to a disturbance at Beacon Mental Hospital. On the way there, they are unknowingly sucked into a virtual world called STEM. This world mirrors the real one but is filled with ungodly horrors. People who are sucked in and weak of will are corrupted and turned into zombie-like puppets with white, glowing eyes. There are abominable creatures that will appear as if from nowhere when you least expect it to hunt and kill you. And most importantly, this entire world is under the control of a mad genius scientist and inventor of STEM going by the name “Ruvik”.
Sebastian is tasked with retrieving and extricating a patient, Leslie Withers, at the Beacon Mental Hospital, delivering him away from and at the same time putting an end to Ruvik. Ruvik is after Leslie for an insidious purpose. It is eventually revealed that Ruvik’s brain is the only thing left of him after a falling out with the powerful shadow organization, MOBIUS, that sponsored his research into the creation of STEM. His aim is to insert his consciousness into Leslie’s physical body to escape his prison and take revenge on the world. Eventually, Sebastian is successful in getting himself out of STEM by apparently killing Ruvik. He stumbles out of the real Beacon Mental Hospital and sees Leslie walking away with a gait more similar to Ruvik’s than his own. As if this wasn’t jarring enough, the telltale high pitched tone that is synonymous with Ruvik’s interference throughout the game cuts through Sebastian’s head and Leslie disappears. This heavily implies that Sebastian was not successful. Ruvik is back in the world, free to wreak his havoc.
The Evil Within 2 – Recap
The Evil Within 2‘s story picks up 3 years after the Beacon incident. Sebastian is doing what he does best, drinking himself into a stupor every night to avoid thinking about his presumably dead daughter and the trauma he experienced in STEM. Juli, revealed as a secret agent of MOBIUS, approaches him and lets him in on a conspiracy centering on his daughter, Lily Castellanos, who is actually alive and being used by them as the core for a new STEM project. MOBIUS’ intention for Union is to recruit people into it to create their own town. This is later revealed to be little more than a beta test for the wireless assimilation of the entire world into a virtual utopia.
The former head of MOBIUS’ recruitment program for Union, Theodore Wallace, became power hungry and had a strong enough will to seize control over Union and attempted to capture and control Lily. Myra, Lily’s mother and Sebastian’s estranged wife, who is also revealed to be a secret member of MOBIUS, aids Lily’s escape from Theodore. The stress that Lily experiences causes Union to fracture and it begins to collapse. A team of MOBIUS agents is sent in to rescue Lily and remove her safely from STEM, but they fail as a result of Theodore seizing control. This is when Sebastian is called on by MOBIUS to stop Theodore and rescue Lily.
In addition to Theodore, Sebastian has to stop another antagonist, the deranged photographer Stefano Valentini, who is also looking to kidnap Lily and seize complete control of Union. Stefano is originally a citizen recruited by Theodore to reside in Union, but quickly becomes power obsessed after Theodore offers him authority in exchange for capturing Lily. Stefano initially agrees, but decides to keep Lily for himself after seeing what she’s capable of. Consequently, Sebastian has to deal with both of these psychotic individuals, Myra who has been corrupted by STEM, and his past STEM trauma which Theodore physically manifests in Union to torture him.
After Sebastian has dealt with all of these threats, Myra, having regained her senses, sacrifices herself to free Lily and Sebastian while Juli effectively destroys MOBIUS in the outside world. In a scene after the credits have rolled, a shot shows a monitor turn on with lines of code running in what appears to be the old Beacon Mental Hospital STEM room. This seems to imply that Ruvik has come back for his creation and is finally ready to exact his revenge.
The Evil Within 3 – What might we see?
So what do I want to happen in The Evil Within 3? First, I want the loose ends to be tied up. I want to know where Joseph is and how it is that he’s alive. I want to know what happened to Juli after MOBIUS was destroyed. I also want to know what happened to Myra, as it’s not clear whether she’s dead or alive. But mostly, I want Ruvik to return.
Ruvik is one of those once-in-a-generation antagonists who just strikes fear into your heart. He’s a scientist whose genius is so powerful that MOBIUS felt it necessary to murder him and use his brain as the core for the first STEM. In doing so, MOBIUS thought they had neutralized Ruvik and created a suitable core to host Beacon. Ruvik had other plans, however. Instead of playing host to Beacon, he became its God. He turned it into a macabre reflection of his own distorted view of the world. He created twisted abominations to pursue and kill his enemies and to take possession of Leslie’s body. And just when it seemed like Sebastian had won the day, Ruvik briefly and terrifyingly hinted that this was far from the case.
I think when Ruvik makes his return, he will pull the entire world into his perfected STEM without warning. He had already developed a limited version of wireless assimilation by the beginning of the first game, as is best seen when Sebastian, Joseph, and Juli are first driving to the Beacon Mental Hospital. They are seamlessly brought into the world via the high pitched tone that comes in over the loudspeaker in their police car. What if it turns out that Ruvik has spent the years since escaping developing a way to broadcast that signal to the entire world?
Ruvik’s original motivation for creating STEM was to, in a way, resurrect his sister Laura who was burned alive as a child. His motivations begin to change after he invents STEM, and more so after MOBIUS traps him in his own creation. Already a disturbed and traumatized child (murdering his parents and using their wealth to start his research after Laura’s tragic death), he becomes utterly twisted in STEM. Toying with those who would be sucked in and shaping the world into a veritable nightmare. He clearly thinks of himself as God, the world his plaything, and those who inhabit it either his obedient servants or those who must be crushed.
Taking revenge on MOBIUS was probably a motivator for Ruvik at one time, but I doubt their downfall will blunt his hatred. I would be willing to bet that Sebastian, Joseph, and Juli will be his direct targets this time for the obvious threat they pose. He will establish his Hellish world at the beginning of the game and work to torment and eventually kill our three protagonists. In that time, he will take his anger out on all of humanity, and maybe even kill a large portion of the world’s population. He might also have plans for Lily considering her inherent compatibility with STEM.
I was waiting impatiently throughout The Evil Within 2 for Ruvik to make a dramatic and terrifying return, but it wasn’t his time, narratively speaking. I hope his time comes in The Evil Within 3.