Outlast was considered to be one of the most terrifying games of the last generation, combining a tense atmosphere with well executed jumpscares. With only a camcorder in your hand, it was you against an unstoppable force, and the only way to conquer Outlast was to run like your life depended on it, because it definitely was. I can quite safely say that the same goes for the sequel.
You play as Blake Langermann, an investigative journalist who flies out to Arizona amid reports of a pregnant woman being murdered through strange means. Along with your wife Lynn, also a journalist, you become stranded and separated by a remote village and its inhabitants, God-fearing hillbillies who believe the end of the world draws near.
For fans who played the previous Outlast, you’ll be pleased to note that not much has changed. You’ll be creeping around eerie villages, cornfields, mines and other terrifying locations, but your camcorder has a new feature you can play around with.
Blake’s camcorder is a little more professional this time around and has audio detection built-in. This allows you to find out what direction certain noises are coming from, allowing you to focus your attention on a certain individual, or hunt down an elusive enemy that is chasing you. Alongside the audio detection is a night-vision feature which allows you to see in the dark, and a general record feature to document interesting moments.
Each time you use your camera, the battery will drain meaning that camera usage needs to be managed or you’ll find yourself fumbling around in the dark with no means of lighting the way. Night vision and audio detection decrease the battery life much more rapidly, so you’ll have to use it at key moments rather than just have it activated constantly. Throughout the village, you can find batteries lying around here and there, and battery usage was never a massive problem I encountered.
Just like in the previous game, you’ll be pitted against an army of angry townsfolk desperately out for blood, and your only defence is to run and don’t look back. Whilst certain areas are small and easy to sneak through without causing a stir, some areas within the game feel much more puzzle based. Every now and again you’ll need certain items to find, or things to do before you progress, and figuring out what to do can be more of challenge than actually doing it.
Outlast 2 will routinely ask you to multitask by keeping an eye on a patrolling, or chasing, enemy one minute, whilst getting you to push an object or find an item the next. It’s incredibly tense and the game will just not let up, giving you very little time to get your bearings and check your surroundings. Some may find this a negative thing, but putting pressure on the player this way made this game much more stressful and entertaining.
This game is a masterpiece in survival horror, and a game that others should look to match, if not better. However, nothing is perfect, and there is one bugbear that I found a little grinding.
During your playthrough, you’ll eventually come to be submerged in water at some point. Water can be used to hide from enemies and you can peek your head out like a hungry crocodile to get a good glimpse of your surroundings before resurfacing. However, after you do resurface, the water textures last a lot longer than you would actually want them to. Massive droplets of water will remain on your screen for nearly twenty seconds after resurfacing, and it can be tedious to sit and wait for the water to drip off of your face before you can see where you’re going, especially in tense situations.
Fortunately, you’re not wiping water off of your face all the time, and Outlast 2 is one of the most horrible, yet enjoyable first person horror experiences I’ve ever had. I don’t think you’re playing a horror game quite right if you’re not hating the game, but enjoying it at the same time. You want to put the controller down and go cry in a corner, yet the game is so gripping that you’ll carry on going through the next door.
Outlast 2 manages to keep you on the edge of your seat all the way to the finish line as you never know what the game is going to throw at you next. There’s a tense atmosphere pretty much constantly, with very little downtime, and the jumpscares come at you all the way throughout the game. Some are easily predicted, yet some are completely out of the blue and unexpected, but warranted. Nothing annoys me more than a cheap jumpscare that kills tension, but they’re used masterfully in this game.
Another of the most important thing to nail in a horror game is the environments themselves, and the village in which you sneak through is terrifying. Decapitated bodies and mutilated animals litter the ground you walk on and not half an hour will pass by before you see something disturbingly gruesome. Houses hold terrors unknown and skulking through their hallways is both unnerving and horrifying.
When you’re not sneaking through tall grass or hiding in barrels full of blood, you’ll be being chased down by a number of different people, all out for your head. The lumbering nature in which you run only adds to the tension as Blake’s movements are incredibly realistic. Even though you can run at a good pace, enemies will match it, and only will slamming doors or windows behind you be enough to escape as you hide yourself in a wardrobe or slide yourself under a bed.
Even more intense are the set pieces, moments in which you can tell the game is scripted as it sends you down a linear pathway. One wrong turn could lead to your demise and running through the side alleys and squeezing yourself through tight gaps whilst half the village makes chase is one of the most terrifying things that will happen to you in Outlast 2.
Can we also talk about how bloody gorgeous the game is too? Not only does the game look stunning, but also runs at a lovely, smooth sixty frames-per-second. The grotesque environments are only enhanced by the game’s fantastic visuals. It’s a shame that the majority of Outlast 2 is caked in darkness because when you’re not being hunted down like an animal, or shuffling slowly through a crowded house, the game is a beauty to behold.
Outlast 2 PS4 Review
Outlast 2 is a lesson in the first-person horror genre and Red Barrels has shown us that they can make lightning strike twice. Slightly marred by some dodgy textures and a couple of tiny bugs that will most likely be ironed out in the day one patch, this game is the horror experience of the year for me. Intense, gripping, disgusting and terrifying all the way to the end.
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*Reviewed on a standard PS4