Outlast is back from developer Red Barrels to scare us all into submission or has the series taken a turn since its first entry? Outlasts popularity exploded when many popular Youtubers took their channels and showed themselves screaming in horror as they played the game. Now because of that Outlast is a well-known horror game. However, does it still deserve to hold that title this time around, or has it lost its charm?
Outlast II takes the character Blake Langermann a journalist and his colleague from the closed confines of a mental hospital/research facility to the open, yet still somewhat linear town hidden in Northern Arizona. You’ll find yourself exploring houses, farms, cornfields and mines filled with religious extremists that are set on taking down you and your fellow Journalist Lynn. Your helicopter crashes after a mysterious bright light appears out of nowhere in the sky in the middle of the night and disables your helicopter. The story is a more interesting one here to begin with, however sadly in my opinion it falls flat towards the end and I believe we will see DLC in the future to help explain it more which is a shame because it should be wrapped up in the full game I’ve just paid for. However, Outlast II does deliver a dark story here that will freak out fans of the horror genre.
Outlast II plays and handles a lot like the first entry. I played both on PC including the Whistle-blower DLC for the first game. I tried using mouse and keyboard but found that using my Xbox One controller and wireless Xbox branded USB receiver to be a lot easier to play with. You are of course once again thrown into another haunting world with no weapons besides your feet to run and hide and of course a camera to record details and footage with to look back on. I found the inclusion of video recording in game of certain areas to be quite a neat addition. It would record your movement and exactly what you were aiming the camera at. Very cool to see that in a game. The camera also featured a microphone this time to allow you to listen to what a person far in the distance or behind a wall might be saying. Using this however drains your cameras batteries significantly. Batteries of course scattered throughout the world of Outlast that would help you to keep your camera going. Which is especially needed when you are in dark areas and need to use the night vision. Batteries would drain insanely fast to the point where I found myself feeling like keeping it away until I really needed it, which made it feel like I had to pick and choose when to use an item that is a big part of the game.
Aside from battery pickups now you can pick up bandages. So you’re able to take a little bit more damage than in the previous title. You store both batteries and bandages in small pouches that you can see by clicking the respective button on whatever device you’re playing this on to see how much you have of each left. Bits of info and documents are also scattered throughout, so expect some reading if you want to delve behind the true horrors of Outlast II and its religious fanatics.
In my experience though I found myself being less scared at times and more frustrated as I came across sections where I would have to run and I would have a terrible time finding exactly which way I had to go as there wasn’t much to go by in terms of knowing which way to go. Sometimes you would find yourself having to run away from the giant Marta, a bone chillingly scary woman wielding a large pickaxe who you would come across in certain areas that would usually be the cause of you dying constantly. But most of the time when I would be running away from her I would end up dying because I didn’t know where I had to go. When I first came across from her I died numerous times until she disappeared during a chase and I came across a small entry point into a barn where I had to squeeze under. How on earth were we meant to find that with her chasing us? The endless running around trying not to be killed easily turned into frustration as I had barely any time to find out which way I had to go. Because of that, a lot of the game that came after it didn’t faze me. I found myself starting to grow anxious of the next badly set up area that was ahead of me, that I had to waste time trying to find out how I need to progress forward. It becomes very tedious.
Level/area design is a major issue for me with Outlast II and unlike the first where you had a slight inclination of which way to go, you always had the opportunity to figure that out. Here it involves running head first into danger and hoping while you’re running around like an idiot that a way eventually shows itself. Die, scream in frustration, repeat. At least until you finally find the way.
Graphics and Sound
Outlast II has had a significant graphical upgrade since its inception. Textures are a lot more detailed. The environment and other hostile enemies look so much better this time around. Aside from the weird looking wave of blood that hit you in the school hallway in that one section. That looked terrible. But besides that the game looks a hell of a lot better. Sound design is great too and has also improved. Maybe due to the inclusion of a microphone now on the camera that you can use. As you zoom in the microphone increases in quality. Along with the recording feature that with added using the microphone to listen into what is going on up ahead or inside a building is a neat feature.
Outlast II is here and has it succeeded on from what its first entry brought to the genre? Not exactly. In certain sections fear turns into frustration and that feeling sticks around a lot more than being afraid of what enemy is around the next corner. You end up being more afraid of what annoying level design is ahead. There are many scares here, but to me a lot of them were brought down due to frustrating level design and extremely fast draining batteries in the camera.
The version reviewed here was for PC/Steam
Also, check out Kyle playing Outlast 2. Does he look scared? You be the judge!