Whenever horror based games are discussed, Red Barrels’ Outlast almost certainly comes up. It is definitely one of the scariest games of the decade. The PC is stuck in a mental facility, full of deranged psychotics eager to rip his limbs off just for fun. It doesn’t get any better than that now does it? Well, actually it does. Outlast has excellent horror elements with a pinch of psychologically disturbing content, but it suffered from poor mission design, with most objectives involving searching for keys, fuses and all sorts of trinkets. While the horror elements were good enough, it just got really predictable and tedious after a while.
Setting and Story
Now, Outlast 2 is out, with the devs promising to take away your sanity (in case the first game didn’t do it). Outlast 2 is different from its predecessor in many aspects, most of them good. The first and foremost being the setting. This time around you are stranded in a secluded village, located somewhere in the canyons of Arizona, home to a cult of heretics lead by Sullivan Knoth, who for some reason thinks “the end of times” is near, and people do all kinds of crazy when they think the apocalypse is coming, and that’s precisely what Sullivan’s followers do.
The first outlast didn’t exactly have a meaningful story for the most part. It was there just for the sake of it. Outlast 2 however does and that too a really deep (and f***ed up at times) one. It primarily focuses on the protagonist’s (Blake Langermann) efforts to rescue his wife from the heretics who think that her womb harbors the “anti-Christ” , and that Blake is a prophet of some sort. At the same time, Blake starts to have hallucinations during which his traumatic childhood catches up to him. The ending is really emotional and kinda cryptic too, not something I expected at all (And no, it is nothing like the first game). The critics and fans are divided over what actually happens in the end, so after you complete the game you can (or rather should) compare your analysis with others’.
The gameplay is roughly similar to the first game. Record, collect batteries, hide, run, scream, repeat. Run out of batteries, the night vision won’t work and you are screwed. The enemies are a bit varied compared to the first game though. Like every other horror-based game, this one too has a few signature antagonists, specially made to give you the willies. For me this special someone was Marta, who’s basically a granny who carries a pick-axe instead of a cane, oh and heads up if you’re hurt don’t go to her asking for candy, just a suggestion, feel free to do otherwise. But seriously, even her “theme” music sends a chill down my spine…There are others as well, but the one I found really gut-wrenching is this guy:
All those hands must be really… handy, huh. Now, all the “special” enemies are pretty perturbing but its the regular ones that aren’t scary after a while. I mean, in the first game the player knew that he/she was in an asylum and even the minions could be dangerous sociopaths, who might just rip your your balls out if they felt a bit too playful. But here, they are normal people, well not exactly NORMAL, but still they are PEOPLE, albeit with messed up beliefs. At most they will just whack you like in any other game, not quarter you or pull your nails out, and no I’m not crazy or in need of professional help. It’s just that that makes the game more terrifying. But don’t worry, there is sufficient desecration of body parts in this game to keep you awake for at least a day.
The game world is more diverse this time around. Its not just endless forests, halls or rooms, but a mix of these and a few other environments. The video-camera is equipped with a voice detector, allowing you to detect enemy movements through walls, making the experience a bit less scary, or not…ah hell, its the other way around actually. There are plenty of jump scares, frightening enough to make a grown man scream (I didn’t though…..OK, Fine, I did, you will too, so don’t laugh). Another thing that didn’t sit right with me about this game is that at times, mainly towards the end, it feels like it has needless, extended sequences of cat and mouse chases between the locals and the protagonist. It makes you feel like you are running around in circles and not really progressing in the game.
One major improvement over the first game is the better quest design. Its not just looking for stuff like keys and fuses over and over again. You will be making your way through mazes, crossing a river in a raft, navigate through partially submerged mines home to violent cultists and run from a multi-handed abomination in a catholic school…The objectives are varied and don’t feel tedious, for the most part anyway. Also, unlike the first game and majority of other horror games (e.g. Alien Isolation), this is more focused on psychological horror, featuring a lot of gore, blood, mutilation and well…more blood. So prepare to be thoroughly mind-f***ed.
Graphics And Performance
Outlast 2 is built on the Unreal engine, so it runs extremely well. Even if you have a potato rig or one of the newer on-board Intel HD graphics, it should at least run at 30 fps at lower resolutions. I played at 4K at max setting on a 980Ti and the framerate was consistent, netting 50+ fps at almost all times. Although, in large, open environments, it did drop to 44-45 fps and even to 30 for a sec or so during certain fast paced sequences. The game itself looks really pretty, again something I didn’t expect from an indie, horror title. The face/character models may not be that good, but thanks to the advanced capabilities of the Unreal engine the environment, vegetation and the terrain look top notch. SLI can be enforced via nvidia inspector, but the water textures produce artifacts and proximity to a river brings down the fps significantly. Other than that, it works (I’m using the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst profile).
A solid addition to the genre, focusing more on psychological horror and gore, with a few jump-scares enough to make a grown man scream.
Terrifying Main Antagonists.
Music and Sounds complement the tone really well.
- Mundane regular Enemies.
Unnecessary, extended, scripted cat-n-mouse sequences.