Developer: Red Barrels
Publisher: Red Barrels
Platform(s): PS4, XB1, PC
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As someone who’s devoured every zombie movie there is, watched countless hours of YouTubers screaming their way through let’s plays, and notices every jumpscare before it happens, I don’t tend to get spooked that easily. Outlast 2 fixed that for me.
The sequel to Red Barrel’s cult hit was long in the making and hit by delays, but the wait was worth it – if only I had stocked up on special underwear before playing. From the first few minutes until the last, my entire body was as rigid as a block of wood, excited to see what lies ahead but totally dreading it at the same time.
Taking the torment to deserted stretches of Arizona, you must once again go up against fanatics, but this time they’re of the religious persuasion. One of Outlast 2’s biggest plus points is that it never seems to demonise religion itself, rather that bad people make good people do bad things, whatever the beliefs.
In terms of gameplay, it’s more or less the same as before. As Blake, a helpless journalist in search of his wife, you must creep past enemies and outsmart them to stay alive. Your only weapon is a camcorder, which can be used to see in the dark and into the distance to warn yourself about incoming death. There’s no fighting back, it’s just you and your cardio.
While it might have been tiring to endlessly run around cornfields, Outlast 2 does a great job of varying things up with immersive flashbacks in a school. They also happen to be some of the scariest in the game as a deformed figure stalks you throughout the corridors as a manifestation of trauma. Outlast 2 relies on jumpscares fairly frequently, but it’s the way that its sets them up that makes them so effective, constantly building the tension to unbearable levels.
If there are to be any criticisms of the game, it’s that it can be a little frustrating to constantly reach a failure state so easily. There are many ways to die in Outlast 2, and you’ll no doubt experience a great deal of them before your time with them is up. Silly deaths interrupt the tension, so it’s up to you make sure you just don’t caught.
Even with a couple of gripes, Outlast 2 is a stand-out in what has been a banner year for horror games. Resident Evil 7 started it off the right way, but Outlast 2 took the baton and ran further with it, in my eyes. Here’s an excerpt from my review:
“Boasting an unrelenting pace and a mystery that moves thing forwards while never seeming peripheral, Outlast 2 is simply one of the most absorbing rides in gaming. It dares you to look away, to give in and watch a documentary about red pandas, but if you can look the reaper in the eye and steel your stomach, prepare to be absolutely blown away.”
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