Outlast 2: Review

Written by: Karen Benitez

Games | May 10, 2017

game review Outlast Outlast 2 Red Barrels

I can imagine the kind of articles Red Barrels' Outlast 2 may conjure. With themes concerning overzealous faith, physical and mental assault, and conspiracy theories like Roswell - there are going to be a lot of in-depth analyses on the subtleties in this game. And if there is anything people have learned about From Software's Dark Souls and Bloodborne titles, it's that giving away less means providing more.

I'm here to point out that Outlast 2 goes beyond being scary. It hits monumental heights of terror; gnawing at your bones with cold teeth until you just put down the controller and close your eyes in prayer, accepting your death.

In many cases the deaths in Outlast 2 are a little less about trial and error and more about choices, as the game gives you a lot of instances wherein you need to make split-second decisions or risk being discovered.

Should you hide behind the closet? Go under the bed? Is it safe to come out yet? Do I save my battery or do I push through with it on? Do I pick up a battery in the midst of a chase or do I focus in finding safety? The choices are tough and you only have moments to think things through.

If you haven't heard of the Outlast series, let me summarize: this is a first-person survival horror franchise where your only means of eluding death is hiding from the monstrous creatures that are found in almost every area. Your best friend is your camcorder, which allows you to see in the dark with its night vision feature. Its battery drains fast (like, really fast) and you need to pick up batteries scattered around the levels or risk fumbling in the dark.

While the first game had you roaming around in an asylum, Outlast 2 takes place in the wild. Lost in a remote village, you'll be exploring forests and swamps in search for your missing wife. It's the ideal setup for hillbilly horror films like Wrong Turn and the infamous The Hills have Eyes.

With Outlast 2's setup and scraps of lore, it's hard not to imagine this game as an unofficial spinoff of Resident Evil VII: biohazard. But while RE7 allowed you to fight back with weapons, Outlast 2 gives you nothing with which to defend yourself. In some cases this is scarier; since it makes those split-second decisions that more important.

Sadly, the level design of the game doesn't leave much room for horror. While Resident Evil VII: biohazard took place in a large mansion, Outlast 2 gives you wider environments where you can run around and hide. The maps have weirdly been designed so that you could more or less play tag with the enemies. With fences and tables allowing you to run around in comical circles, the horror aspect turns hilarious and eventually becomes tedious.

Like all horror games after you've siphoned out all the jump scares and sound reactions, the terror level is almost reduced to nothing. Once you die and respawn at the nearest checkpoint, the first thing you think about is a safer place to hide. At this point, the trial and error makes a smooth comeback without you realizing it.

One of the new things in this game is the ability to record and replay certain scenarios. This is always haunting as the events that unfold will creep you out.  Another feature is the microphone, which lets you determine where an enemy might be coming from. In a pre-patched version of the game, the microphone took up extra battery power that made using it punishing. The new patch doesn't drain battery, so be sure to update the game before playing.

The lore behind Outlast 2 is grand and ambitious. If you pay attention to things you pick up along your ordeal, you will uncover details about the town, the religion, and ultimately what happened to the people. Everything is explainable.

Outlast 2 is a fierce game. I can imagine developer Red Barrel creating one more title in the series that is even bigger in scale or putting the entire franchise to rest and working on a new IP. Either way, Outlast 2 should sit atop any person's must-play horror titles.

About the author: Karen Benitez

Skater, musician, carpenter, gamer. Karen is interested in culture, science fiction, and Cthulhu. She participated in MMA bouts, got her ass kicked many times, and ended up with broken bones. Life is good.

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