I want to give fair warning that Outlast 2 is not the kind of game you want to play unless your ready to face your fears. Outlast 2 is a roller-coaster ride through some of the darkest places of the human condition, requiring your full attention to deal with its overwhelming dark environments, demented enemies and, chilling story. Outlast 2 surpasses it predecessor in every way, however, the game suffers from a lack of context clues when running for your life, and moments where you have to die in order to figure things out. Did I mention your going to die a lot?
Over the years I’ve become emotionally hardened to horror games. Most games in the horror genre follow the pattern of managing resources as you make your way through a story, with the occasional jump scare. Outlast 2 understands these cliches to the genre and does an amazing job at making the old feel new. The core gameplay of running and hiding is still present but every choice made in Outlast 2 is affected by the unpredictable tension that the game is able to exert at any time and in any situation. To put this into perspective I would tell myself before I entered any unexplored area to not be afraid, however the moment the music from the game went silent, random voices began speaking, and the intensity of the music picked up I found myself questioning why I purchased the game. Few games can make you have an internal conversation and Outlast 2 did this numerous times thru out its roughly 13-hour campaign.
What makes a person experience fear? Outlast 2 recognised that in order to give people an amazing horror experience that it has to connect with players both visually and emotionally. Visually the game captivates its audiences with amazing lighting effects and an amazing use of darkness. I never felt cheated when my camera’s batteries were running low or that the game overused dark environments but it’s not until the game begins to assault your emotions that we begin to see it for the masterpiece it is. Emotionally Outlast 2 takes sensitive topics such as religion, sexuality, violence, insanity, and other pushed under the rug topics and makes effective use of them.
With so many psychological things in motion Outlast 2 is able to let its gameplay shine in ways that few other horror games can. In Outlast 2 we play as Blake Langermann, a cameraman who is put in the middle of two warring cults, all while trying to find his wife Lynn and unravel the mystery behind the impossible murder of a pregnant woman who is referred to as Jane Doe. Blake is an everyday guy that is easy to relate to but unlike most Blake has a dark secret that drives the story. Blake and his wife are forced into impossible odds in the secluded Arizona mountainside.
The change in location from Mount Massive Asylum to the secluded wilderness of Arizona gives Outlast 2 a world that feels alive and massive. The environment around you is as much an ally as it is an enemy. The game introduces new hiding places but the most helpful by far were the overgrown plant life and the ability to hide underwater. No matter where you choose to hide, the game makes it known that you have enemies and they will relentlessly hunt you in numbers.
Blake’s camera is a little different than the one from the original. The new camera has a directional microphone that allows it to detect sounds from a distance, which can helpful for finding those hard to spot enemies. The camera also records various events which will be indicated by a red circle that gradually fills up. Once the event is recorded your camera will have the recording of said event witnessed along with Blake’s commentary. The video recordings, along with the side notes, are crucial to understanding the story and can be revisited at any time in case you want a little refresher.
A game is only as good as its gameplay though and Outlast 2 delivers in every way possible. Outlast 1 used the gameplay style of being defenceless to enhance the horror and Outlast 2 follows this formula. Blake is not a fighter, and the game tasks the player with using the environment to outsmart your enemies to get to your next objective. Blake must run and hide from his enemies in traditional Outlast fashion but what makes this instalment unique compared to the first, is its ability to make each chase feel different thanks to a diverse group of enemies. The game challenges you to use your mind to escape and any mistake could lead to your very, very brutal death, however, there are some parts of the game where developers didn’t make things so clear causing a lot of needless deaths that could easily have been fixed. My biggest problem with Outlast 2 revolves around the needless deaths and after awhile those deaths turned into frustration and the frustration took me out of the world that was crafted ruining the experience. For example, there were some moments where you had to run into a group of enemies to trigger the thing that moves the game along, which is the most counter intuitive thing to do in a horror game, ever.
It’s also worth mentioning that the two warring factions, the Christians lead by Sullivan Knoth, and the Heretics lead by Val, each have their own twisted reason behind the violence that is going on. Knoth’s belief is central to the game’s story and without saying too much and Val was exiled from the community. Val has no problems taking what he wants and at one point in the game he pins Ethan to the ground and licks him which will be solidified in my mind as one of the weirdest moments in gaming history.
Outlast 2 is one of the best survival horror games to date. Its ability to create inner dialogue from its disturbing environments is an amazing accomplishment. The game never has a dull moment and engages players at every turn. There are moments of frustration but in the end, Outlast 2 is a challenge that no survival horror fan should turn down.
- overwhelming dark environments
- unpredictable tension
- Varied Enemies
- lack of context clues