- "Fear...radiates from you. It's beautiful, but not yet finished. I am Stefano and now you are my art."
- ―Stefano Valentini
Stefano Valentini is a major antagonist in The Evil Within 2.
Originally a war photographer, Stefano lost an eye whilst photographing the horrors of war and his descent into insanity began. One fateful day, he caught on camera the exact moment a person in front of him gets shredded by the same explosion that took away his right eye. Growing obsessed with the imagery captured, he began to see only true beauty in one thing - the exact moment of every creature's death - and began sharing his vision with the world.
Unfortunately, Stefano could not comprehend the reaction of the "ignorant masses" when he began murdering fashion models and mutilating their corpses into art. Eventually, he is taken in by MOBIUS, who made him go through psych exams declaring him sane, unaware of the fact that it was a ruse. They connected him to STEM to provide more artistic personalities to Union. In a later part, he mentions that they even tried re-writing his memories as well, like with any Union citizen, saying that they attempted to mold him into something he wasn't, which angered him. Separated from the ignorant world that could not comprehend his definition of art, Stefano considers Union a haven where he can realize his masterpieces of flesh and blood without interference and criticism.
Stefano was one of several hand-picked individuals to be connected to MOBIUS' new STEM space, under the guise of an application for a small secret society or cult, and has managed to attain the rank of Truth Seeker. However, going by the handwriting on the back side of the Extravagant Letter collectible, he was none too happy about it. He was then interviewed by Yukiko Hoffman, whose normally-foolproof testing methods were deceived by his "high-functioning psychopathy", prompting her to give him the "all-clear" and unleashing him into Union, a decision which she later comes to regret.
While operating within Union, Stefano was contacted by Theodore Wallace, who offered him power and a certain level of autonomy within its world. In exchange, Theodore would have Stefano chase down and kidnap Lily Castellanos, who at that point was serving as the Core unit of STEM. He tracked the child down without much hassle, though once he came to understand what potential power she's capable of, Stefano had second thoughts and decided to keep her for himself. This also puts him in conflict with her father, Sebastian Castellanos, who had entered Union to rescue her.
Stefano is first encountered by Sebastian shortly after entering STEM, in a mansion that is presumably one of his mindscapes. The deranged artist likewise notices the newcomer, whom he can be witnessed observing from a distance several times throughout Sebastian's trek through the strange dimension.
He is seen murdering a Union survivor and photographing his corpse, forcing Sebastian to hide from him but accidentally knocks over a painting, causing Stefano to investigate the disturbance. After evading the artist, he follows him into the mansion's basement where he discovers the corpses of his victims and Stefano suddenly appears to take his picture. Confused, Sebastian attempts to investigate but is ambushed by the Guardian which chases him throughout the basement. Just as Sebastian reaches an exit, Stefano appears before him and throws a knife into his shoulder, likely intending for his creation to finish him off. However Sebastian is able to use the knife to fend off the monster long enough to escape into Union.
Later, while searching for Lily in the Tredwell Trucking warehouse, Sebastian discovers that Stefano was also hunting her and managed to capture her despite her attempts to hide. He chases him outside and demands information, but Stefano merely mocks him before leaving for City Hall. As Sebastian attempts to pursue him, the artist's gigantic Aperture is summoned and creates several Lost and Spawn to kill him. After slaying the monsters and navigating his way to the City Hall, Stefano manifests a Guardian via Aperture in an attempt to eliminate Sebastian, though the former detective eventually manages to kill or evade the creature and gain entry to the building anyway.
After entering City Hall and witnessing more of Stefano's disturbing obsession, the artist confronts Sebastian personally when he activates the Stable Field Emitter in the building and freezes time using his camera. After explaining his motives for kidnapping Lily, he taunts Sebastian's inability to stop him by slicing his face with his knife before unleashing the Obscura to dispose of him. However, Sebastian manages to fend off the creature long enough for the Emitter to activate which banishes the monster and greatly angers Stefano.
Furious that Sebastian doesn't appreciate his artistry, Stefano retreats to the Grand Theater and challenges him to locate two of his paintings so he can respect his creativity. Sebastian chooses to destroy the paintings instead, which enrages the artist who unlocks the entrance to the Theater so he can confront him personally. Entering the theater, Sebastian finds dozens of Union citizens rigged with explosive leashes, which Stefano reveals as his latest masterpiece. Explaining that whilst he had been tasked by a greater power to kidnap Lily, he has decided to exploit her power for himself and detonates the explosives, killing the hostages and stunning Sebastian long enough for him to escape further into the building. Despite the Aperture's attempts to crush him, he manages to pursue Stefano into another gallery which he has personally prepared for the detective.
Frustrated with Sebastian's continued survival, Stefano attempts to kill him directly using his teleportation abilities and camera. After injuring him enough, he goes berserk and fights him with an animalistic ferocity whilst the Aperture tries to protect its master. Eventually Stefano falls and is fatally wounded, after which he seemingly dies, declaring his own death his final masterpiece. However, as Sebastian attempts to leave, the artist grabs his camera and attempts to take one last photo, the detective isn't fooled and promptly finishes him off with a bullet to the head.
Theodore Wallace later reveals that he was the one who ordered Stefano to bring Lily to him and expresses his gratitude to Sebastian for killing him.
Being an artist by nature, Stefano dresses in an extravagant manner. His attire throughout the game consists of a luxurious navy suit, light blue shirt, red scarf and maroon leather gloves, and dress shoes. Stefano wears his hair in a swept down bang over his singed right eye (replaced with a camera lens while inside Union and is almost never seen without his signature dagger and Polaroid camera.
In the photograph of him in Sebastian's room, he wears a white dress shirt and black blazer and black leather gloves.
Stefano was implied to have been a normally-functioning, if not slightly eccentric artist once. However, once exposed to the horrors of warfare, Stefano would develop a sinister outlook in his artistry.
Stefano's notions of "art" became increasingly morbid, and he soon took interest in the taking of lives, in particular the immediate moment of one's death. As demonstrated in a flashback, Stefano seems to hold the living in little regard, preferring them still and motionless instead, so that he can mold them to his twisted liking. After being granted supernatural powers by Theodore Wallace, Stefano put the denizens of Union to the knife while seemingly enjoying it.
Certain newspaper clippings found in the game are indications that Stefano does not take criticism of his "art" very well, and is indeed lampshaded several times throughout Sebastian's pursuit of him, most prominently in the Grand Theater. He is shown to be obnoxiously arrogant, snobbish and prideful, and has an overly inflated ego. He prefers to gloat incessantly while belittling those he deem "uninteresting" or "boring" (e.g. Sebastian), though he does seem capable of recognizing and acknowledging credible threats if they persevere in the face of adversity. Underneath the facade of composure, however, Stefano has proven to be emotionally-sensitive and has a very low self-esteem that's easily hurt, which can be witnessed first hand near the end of the fight against him, where he breaks down more and more as Sebastian manages to get the upper hand, becoming increasingly desperate and animalistic in his attacks while screaming in frustration at his adversary's continued triumph against him.
In the end, Stefano's greatest fatal flaw was his hubris, and it was his obsession with capturing the perfect art form that lead to his demise.
The fight against Stefano at the end of Chapter 8 has a noticeable pattern to it, though can be frustrating for new players who couldn't get a constant bead on him. The main thing to always know is to pay attention to his quotes. His quotes can telegraph what attack he is going to do.
Stefano starts out by flash-stepping around the walls of his gallery, which will eventually put him near the player. Keep an eye out during this part and a Shotgun handy as most of his attacks will be at short range during this phase. When not chasing Sebastian around with his knife, Stefano may pull out his camera and attempt to take a picture of him, which slows him down considerably and leaving the player vulnerable to attacks, though the stasis field can be walked out of. Occasionally, Stefano will remain at a distance and chuck his knife at Sebastian, which can be dodged by sidestepping or moving behind cover, which will prompt him to start his flash-stepping sequence again. Stefano will taunt the player when he is about to throw his knife, where he can be sniped to stun for a short while in addition to dealing good damage.
After taking enough hits, Stefano will change up his routine a bit and removes the arena's background, revealing the Aperture who will be assisting him in the fight from then on by slamming the playing field with its huge tentacles. Get behind a wall to avoid them. These kill instantly if they hit Sebastian square on, and knocks him down with considerable damage on a graze. The fight continues as above, but with Stefano's attacks being much faster than before. His flash-stepping and knife toss attacks are telegraphed by his quote. When he says “Bleed for me,” it means he is about to throw the knife. He will also start summoning suspended explosives throughout the area that blows up and deals heavy damage if Sebastian touches them. Keep wailing on him during this phase to quickly bring him down.
- If Sebastian is detected by Stefano during the cover tutorial, the killer will stun him by first teleporting right into his face, followed up by a snap from his camera. As Sebastian stands motionless, Stefano chuckles and finishes him off by slitting his throat with his dagger before walking away. Time resumes as Sebastian falls to the ground and chokes to death.
- During Stefano's boss fight, If he manages to take a photo of Sebastian while the detective is low enough on health, he will stab him in the chest and cause him to bleed out on the floor.
- If Sebastian fails to dodge Stefano's flash-step attack when on low health, he will slash him five times across the torso, killing him instantly.
Stefano is Sebastian's first actual threat after entering STEM in The Evil Within 2. Starting from the beginning to the end, their relationship is antagonistic, but at times Stefano will intentionally mess with Sebastian for fun such as taunting him over his communicator with Lily crying for help. Stefano at points will want Sebastian to "appreciate his art" to the point of almost obsession. After Sebastian destroys two of Stefano's sadistic art pieces and confronts him in the Grand Theater, the mad artist decides that he is bored of Sebastian and attempts to kill him. This fight would prove to be fatal and results in Stefano's demise.
Initially working towards bringing Lily to Theodore, Stefano had second thoughts once he learned of the true scope of her potential and intends to keep her for himself. This puts him at odds with the scheme of his old master, whom he intends to eliminate after obtaining the full extent of the Core's power. Despite this, Stefano was brought down himself before he can realize this plan.
Not much is gleaned from their brief interactions other than the fact that Stefano was sent by Theodore Wallace to capture Lily so that they can obtain her powers to take over MOBIUS and the world at large. Stefano does, by admission, intend to somehow subvert Lily's mind to unlock her powers, slowly and painfully if he has to, so that he can be free to create his "art" forever.
Juli Kidman apparently knows of Stefano and his colored past, and was the one to provide Sebastian with a run down of the mad artist's dossier after mentioning his name. Likely due to her knowing what type of individual he was, Kidman is evidently relieved after hearing the news of Stefano's demise.
- Stefano's theme is Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48 Movement 1.
- Stefano seems to have a habit of marking the locations of his victims' deaths with plaques bearing their name, as if he's preparing them for exhibition. Predictably, he also has one with Sebastian's name on it, though the latter manages to escape this grim fate by defeating him.
- One of Stefano's photo studios can be found on the second floor of the Union City Hall during Chapter 5.
- Stefano's gathered a collection of frozen Lost and displayed them in a room, as he couldn't bear leaving them outside. He regretfully mentions in a note that he wished he could claim them as his own artworks, but was glad to see that there were other 'artists' in Union. It is later revealed that these 'statues' were Myra's victims.
- Shooting Stefano at point-blank range with the Warden Crossbow will prompt him to instantly backstep out of the way while shouting "balestra!", which is Italian for "crossbow".
- Stefano himself also seems to be somewhat familiar with the techniques of fencing, as evident by the terminology he uses during his boss fight (e.g "Appel", "Balestra" and "Reposte").
Concept and Promotional ArtEdit
|The Evil Within 2|