Outlast 2 is a first person horror game created by Red Barrels. It’s a sequel to Outlast (2013) which was a fantastic experience that was released before we started doing reviews. Outlast was great because it didn’t just rely on jump scares but had intense atmosphere, creepiness and a great story. Should you pick up Outlast 2?
There’s no weapons or fighting back in Outlast, you run and hide or die. You do however get a video camera which you can use to see in the dark, using night-vision, or to enhance audio from distances to figure out what direction baddies are coming from. The audio enhancer in particular is something I haven’t encountered before and worked well. You can use it to listen to what is in the next room or to keep your distance from baddies in forests. Your camera is also used to record and playback story events as you encounter them. This acts as a way of expanding the story and as a collectable system. I didn’t particularly enjoy this as it tended to interrupt gameplay and distract from the immersion.
While the original Outlast involved a lot of walking around investigating the world and occasionally having to run for your life. Outlast 2 switches this model up and has increased the number of sequences where you need to run for your life, with a lesser focus on exploring and investigating. This is both good and bad, it’s different and diverges moderately from first which may also upset fans of the original. Having played both - I preferred the first but by no means do I think Outlast 2 is bad - I just preferred the first. I like exploring worlds at my own pace and hate being rushed through things (e.g. countdowns or being chased). Pacing is just OK, I would have preferred a bit more balance when it came to running for your life verses exploring. A couple of times the ‘run for your life’ moments outstay their welcome.
I enjoyed exploring the world and uncovering the story as I went, the visuals and audio have been done fantastically which really drives the immersion. I even enjoyed experiencing unease during the torture scenes. I’m not sure ‘enjoyed’ is the right word but you don’t play a horror game for fun, you play to experience something unique.
The levels are linear but that doesn’t mean there’s only one way to proceed through a level or encounter. Getting through a town could involve sprinting as fast as you can, slowly moving through water and grass to avoid being seen or moving from building to building through windows and doors. Sometimes stealth is better than running and other times, not so much. There’s quite a bit of dying and experimenting with encounters to find a way to escape. This can be quite frustrating after a couple of tries, particularly as a lot of the deaths come down to unclarity on the escape route and running the wrong way. There’s very little room for error.
There’s a range of baddies and behaviours. In some places, as long as you don’t get too close, baddies may not bother you but others might sprint at you the second they see you or sternly walk at you with a machete for a jab. There’s also more serious story related baddies that stalk you throughout the game - they’re damn scary.
I don’t want to talk about the story too much to avoid spoiling it but the story is terrific. There’s a couple of religious factions clashing and some overlap with your character’s personal story. The story is delivered by overhearing things, cutscenes, reading notes and re-watching your recorded clips. I got the gist of the story from playing the game but ended up reading about what was going afterwards - although I’m not great at reading between the lines! You can have next to no impact on the story, you’re just playing it out.
The story itself is pretty gruesome and the world even more so. There’s lots of death, blood, gore and a couple of instances of torture. All of which was executed extremely well. One of the torture scenes made me very uncomfortable - something a lot of horror games struggle with not being able to deliver.
The graphics and audio are both exceptional, they’d have to be to pull off a first person horror game like this. Indoor lighting and materials (check out the school screenshots) are stunning and I’ve never seen creepy forests pulled off so perfectly. Outlast 2 even supported Ultra-wide resolutions.
I didn’t experience any bugs or problems and can’t see that any major ones are being reported.
I highly recommend Outlast 2. It’s changes to the original formula might upset some people but is a solid experience. It’s taken me about 10 hours to complete and was reasonably priced. If you enjoyed the original or Alien: Isolation I suggest you pick it up.