The original Outlast was a game I only got to know due to the fact that half of all the gaming YouTubers out there were making videos about how scary the game was (the other half were talking about Five Nights at Freddie’s, I suppose). I still haven’t played the first, but nevertheless thought using a madhouse as a setting for a psychological horror game was the best idea ever.
Outlast 2 is out now, but is it worth your time?
As it seems, Outlast 2 maintains the same core mechanics and gameplay from the previous game: you’re someone with a camera, you’re in a place with severe shortage of electricity, a lot of crazy people want to kill you, and you can’t do anything about it besides run for your life. This time around, instead of being in a madhouse full of homicidal lunatics, you’re in the middle of freaking nowhere in the south of the United States, still full of homicidal lunatics who are part of a weird cult that can best be described as ISIS if it was controlled by a redneck televangelist. Every once in a while you’ll also go back in your subconscious and experience some levels inside a super creepy catholic school, reviving some weird memories of your deranged past.
You’ll need to keep running away from all the freaks while recording everything you can, as you’re someone with a camera, and your The Blair Witch Project instincts won’t allow you to not film everything that can potentially murder you in a second. Controlling the camera is the game’s most notable gameplay differential, even though some of its button prompts are quite weirdly mapped. Filming wacky imagery is pretty much what this game considers its “collectibles”, including mutilated corpses, pieces of a completely nonsensical new gospel, and overall creepy images and clues.
One thing Outlast 2 nails pretty well is in its visual department. For a non-AAA game, Outlast 2 impressed me with fantastic visuals, excellent lighting (or lack thereof) and a near-constant 60fps framerate. Sadly, while the scenery was indeed gorgeous, in its own spooky deranged way, the characters weren’t that good-looking, and I don’t mean in an attractive way. All of the characters looked too “plastic,” with weird facial expressions and robotic animations.
The biggest problem with Outlast 2 is that, while it makes a very good setup for a great horror story, it fails miserably in its delivery by using tiresome horror cliché tropes. Great horror is all about a very unexpected but subtle delivery, but Outlast 2 throws subtlety through the window and decides, instead, to rely on a truckload of the most irritating things you could ask for in a horror movie/game: jump scares. The excessive reliance on jump scares pretty much killed the mood in the game for me, as those damn things aren’t scary, they’re irritating. Building tension is scary, making a loud “boo!” sound in your face isn’t. And the game never stops using this gimmick, as well as an incredibly loud bang accompanying it.
There were other issues which made my experience less fun as a whole, too. One of them was due to the game’s decision to use borderline Metal Gear Solid-esque music every time an enemy detected me, even if I wasn’t looking. If the intention was to create tension, that was pretty much ruined by the fact that I started using the same audio cues as a helpful way to know when it was time to run, with zero tension involved. Finally, one thing which somewhat irritated me quite a lot in this game is something that’s actually a staple from it: your character not being able to defend himself. Obviously, whenever you’re playing a videogame, you need to throw logic out of the way, but the problem is you are running away, most of time, from skinny hicks holding pitchforks, and sometimes not even that, while there are loads of pretty sharp farming tools and utensils scattered around the map. Your character can’t defend himself from anything, even though the game perfectly showcases lots of items you could use to do so. Running away is an Outlast 2 staple, for sure, but it felt completely tiresome after a while. Especially when it came to escaping from the cultists. Running away from weird creatures, on the other, made much more sense.
I tried my best to keep pushing myself on and keep on playing Outlast 2, but it was all in vain. Surely it looks pretty nice and its imagery is, for the lack of a better word, unique, but sadly the gameplay is too boring and the excessive usage of irritating modern horror movie clichés such as jump scares didn’t make me feel scared at all, it made me feel angry.
Now that I’m thinking of it, the main problem with Outlast 2 is that there was already another first-person survival horror game featuring maniacal rednecks released this year. The difference is, that other game was scarier, and you could actually shoot the bloody rednecks in it.
Also available on: Xbox One, PC