As I type this, my nerves shredded, light switch gaffer taped firmly down in the ‘on’ position I can unequivocally say that ‘Outlast 2’ is every bit the horrific masterpiece of its predecessors.
Released earlier this week I have been fortunate to have spent a respectable number of hours with the game that I feel sufficiently qualified to state that, for fans of horror, developers ‘Red Barrels’ have not disappointed.
The story plunges a journalist and his wife far behind enemy lines in a remote rural setting where there is a war raging between backward fundamental ‘Christians’ who kill on sight for offences against their twisted interpretation of doctrine, and a group of cultists who, well, kill on sight for their own purposes.
I’m sure you get the idea… fucked either way.
Armed with nothing but, a video camera, a set of size 12 running shoes and a ‘can-do’ attitude, you are dumped in the dark surrounded by the horrors and tortures right out of your worst imagination – and then some more you didn’t imagine but won’t be able to get out of your head.
If you are familiar with the original game(s) then you will feel right at home as the mechanics are essentially the same. You proceed like a terrified lamb through the inky black night until reaching you’re the next arena of terror where you will a) be hunted by some crazed psycho and carved up like a dog, b) be hunted, hide in a locker or under a bed scared to come out for a good 5 minutes, then get jump scared, drop your controller and get carved up like a dog or (c) be hunted, run, hide, run, hide, run… and then find the exit, which in this game can be anything as obscure as a whole in a fence or a specific unlocked window or door. All of this whilst changing the batteries in your camera which essentially give you the life-line night vision.
When you are not doing the above you are walking around, exploring locations (mostly for batteries) furnished by all manner of depravity and horrors – in this game far more sordid the last I might add. There seems to be an unhealthy obsession with child and foetal murder here, coupled with an un-nerving bestial fixation of sex and sexuality. The variety in locations is nicely provided by some outstandingly chilling ‘flashback’ sections which place the protagonist back in his Catholic High School setting and boasts some of the games more jolting moments. All of this is rendered superbly with detail rivalled only by the horror franchise ‘Resident Evil’. On my I7 processor and GTX1070 this game runs fluidly at 1080p with all settings maxed out – I can only imagine how awesome this looks at higher resolutions.
It is true, the game plays heavily on familiar horror tropes, but then why wouldn’t it. I don’t want to appear to be defending it in any way, because believe me, it stands tall all on its own merits, but those pretentious comments which criticise for it being jump scare ladened or in some cases too gory are frankly chatting shit. Wrong genre boys and girls. Outlast is the fucking epitome of the gore genre of films, mixed in with more modern jolts. It’s a 10 hour, interactive POV horror movie without the shitty acting!
If I were to be critical in any way I would say that the game is at its best in the build-up phases, the stages of horrific tension before the action kicks off. I quite enjoyed the cat and mouse powerplays with the psychopaths in the original games, ducking a weaving in the claustrophobic corridors and rooms of the asylum. Here the outdoor environments do give you the extra space to get away and so the dumb AI is shown up a bit, to make matters worse, it’s not always that obvious where you have to go to get away from the chase so there some sections which do require numerous repeats – thus killing the atmosphere temporarily. I mean, how many times would you rewind a scare scene in a movie and it still pack a punch?
Still, I needed to catch my breath anyhow! If this game held tension for much longer I think I genuinely would have had a heart attack!
So, overall, bang on! If you love yourself a horror game then ‘Outlast 2’ is it. When I played ‘Resident Evil 7’ at Christmas and watched as my character hacked his own hand off I did wonder – where is the limit for video game violence and gore? ‘Outlast 2’ just gave me that answer! Bring it on…