It wasn't the multi-headed she-devil armed with a giant chainsaw that got me. She chased me down a hallway sawing up furniture and floorboards, but I escaped by scuttling through an airconditioning duct.

Neither was it the hungry zombie with red eyes and a skin-deficiency problem that tried to eat my face off. He got me in the neck, but I dispatched him with an axe blow, then ransacked his body as green gloop oozed from it.

And it wasn't the woman feeding her son brains at a kitchen table who, after I'd taken off her head, was reborn with tentacles growing out of her neck. Two shots and she went back down.

The bit that made me throw down my controller and flee the room - yes, I literally ran out of my lounge - was the ghostly poltergeist wafting through an abandoned hospital.


With giant white robes billowing behind her, she wailed super creepy songs to me that, as I crouched behind a table, chilled me to the bone.

Unsettled? It's been three days now, and I still don't feel quite right.

That's the impact of The Evil Within 2, the follow-up to the flawed 2014 original that still has plenty of issues but gets a hell of a lot of things right. Big-time scares, mostly.

The first remains one of the goriest games on the market, a game swimming in blood. Literally: at one point, you had to fish yourself out of a swimming pool full of body parts.

Rest assured, the sequel, directed by Resident Evil mastermind Shinji Mikami, is still gruesome. But overall, it dials back the gore and takes its time to weird up.

It makes for a much better, and much scarier, game.

You return as Sebastian Castellanos, a constantly perplexed detective who seems to have forgotten everything that happened in the first game. After the death of his daughter in a house fire, he's tasked with heading inside a Matrix-style system called The Stem.

Sebastian looks and sounds a lot like Keanu Reeves' character Neo from The Matrix, and, pretty early on, he encounters a black cat. "What the hell?" is his gruff response, a quote Sebastian will use pretty much every time he encounters something weird. Which is often.

Along with its Matrix references, The Evil Within 2 cherry-picks from various horror franchises. It's got the stealth takedowns of The Last of Us, the broken towns and alternate realities of Silent Hill, the overbearing creep factor of a Resident Evil game, and the anything-could-happen night time antics of survival-horror Dying Light.

Letting the side down is all the naff stuff. The plot boils down to a dad looking for his lost daughter in a creepy town. The characters are forgettable facsimiles. Conversations are corny and cliched. If you want to replenish Sebastian's health, you have to wait while he boils a pot of coffee. What. The Hell. I get it, but come on.

What The Evil Within 2 lacks in its own identity, it makes up for with terrific gameplay. Union, the game's town setting, is never less than a joy to explore. Wandering around a seemingly empty home could be a mundane experience that changes with the push of a door.

The more you explore, the weirder things get and the crazier the foes become. Anything can set off the chills: a ringing phone, some dodgy art, a photograph, or a note. You never feel safe, which just adds to the overwhelming sense of foreboding.

Despite the overwhelming tension, I never wanted to stop playing. But here's a crucial tip if you're planning on playing The Evil Within 2: don't choose the game's hardest setting.

It's called Nightmare mode, but it's already enough of a nightmare as it is. Trust me, since that poltergeist entered my life, I haven't been the same.

The Evil Within 2

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Rating: R16
Verdict: A chillfest that will give you nightmares