Red Barrels’ second outing in the Outlast series, provides the same panic-sweat inducing horror as the first, all while telling a harrowing tale of testing one’s faith and diving into a dark past of our main protagonist. The edge of your seat intense gameplay is back although this time there are larger environments for you to be terrified in and despite the story moving along at quite a rapid clip, in some situations where the objective isn’t so clear the tougher enemies make for some frustrating trial and error type gameplay.
The story of Outlast 2 is a bit a confusing one despite it starting out quite simple. You play as Blake Langermann, as he and his wife Lynn fly over the Sonoran Desert in the deep south in search of what happened to a Jane Doe murder victim. After a mysterious flash, their helicopter crashes and then you need to search for your wife throughout the Supai Region. Not long after you start your search you come upon the mutilated and skinned corpse of your pilot and immediately know that something is seriously wrong. Throughout this cursed valley, Blake stumbles upon the township of Temple Gate, which was created by Sullivan Knoth, the founder of the Testament of New Ezekiel, and his crazed religious followers. However Knoth isn’t the only one that has plans for Blake and Lynn and the two splinter factions of Knoth’s group the Heretics and the Scalled, also have their own ideas about what to do with Blake and Lynn.
To break up your search for Lynn, you are taken on frequent trips back to Blake in the fourth grade. At the beginning searching through the corridors of your school act as a bit of a buffer between the mayhem of present day, however, as they lead up to a horrific event they begin to become just as terrifying as present day. You will relive some dark times that still haunt Blake today and as these two stories of faith and the end of days weave together you will hurtle towards a stunning conclusion, that had me second guessing and still asking questions for days to come.
Despite a lot of the story playing out before your eyes, there is so much that can be found in collecting papers and documents along with your journey. Notes such as the scribbled writings from crazed villagers or the scripture of Heretics and Scalled can be found along the way, and all help to unravel what is really going on in Temple Gate. In order to get deeper into Blake’s psyche, you are able to film certain events or things he sees along the way. Watching them back over will reveal a short insight into how Blake feels about what is happening before him. These act as a great way to gauge what is going on, however, it would have been great if what was meant to be filmed was pointed out a little better, as I feel like I missed quite a number of these opportunities.
Outlast 2 plays incredibly similar to the first title, as you are unable to defend yourself at all, it answers the question of fight or flight for you. And believe me, there will be plenty of times where you will be fleeing. Most of the enemies throughout Outlast 2 are crazed religious villagers or the more animalistic Heretics and Scalled, you could usually take a hit or two from them before death, however, there were a couple of almost boss-like enemies that would instantly kill you. The encounters with these stronger foes would start out being incredibly intense, scrambling to try and push a cart up against a fence for you to quickly climb over, or barrelling through a labyrinthine library made for some of the stronger moments of the game, however each time the monster caught up to me I was killed instantly. Despite this adding to the intensity at the beginning, the more times that I died, it often stripped the terror away from the situation and lead to a more trial and error type of gameplay as I slowly found my path to freedom.
Environments are a lot bigger than those of the first game, despite sometimes causing a slight confusion with where I needed to go, I do feel as if these larger environments added to the intensity of the gameplay, feeling lost and scared in some of the cornfield and forest sections was incredibly stressful. Despite the environments being a lot bigger in Outlast 2, the use of subtle lighting is a great to try and guide your way. Each obstacle you need to crawl under or climb over is usually made aware of with subtle lighting cues and regardless if you are sneaking past enemies on your way to the next area, or hurtling towards it as you sprint away from pursuing enemies, Outlast manages to do a great job at pointing me in the right direction. On this note, Blake’s movement is sometimes questionable, one moment he is able to sprint and launch over tables, and the next he can’t even get over a small rock or tipped over a barrel. This lack of not knowing what Blake can vault over can sometimes be frustrating despite the great use of lighting to try and place you on the right path.
The strongest aspect of Outlast 2 is its incredible use of lighting throughout its story. However when there is almost no light at all is where it can become the most stressful. Thankfully, Blake is equipped with a video camera that has a night vision mode for these darker times. Without this mode, some of the environments would be incredibly difficult to get through. Slowly slinking through a cornfield with the night vision mode on made for some panic-sweat inducing moments, especially when you turn to see the white eyes of an enemy mere feet from where you are crawling. The camera is also equipped with a microphone that can be turned on and used to hear any oncoming enemies. This can be become incredibly handy especially to check if the coast is clear when you have hidden away in a closet or barrel after being chased. Using this camera too often can become a problem as well. Your camera runs on batteries that can run dry the more you use it, these batteries can be found throughout your environment and despite never actually running out batteries, there sure was some intense moments where I was close.
Following up the original Outlast was always going to be tough, ask for Red Barrels, however, the deep story, larger environments and similar intense gameplay makes Outlast 2 a worthy successor. Sprinting away from the the animalistic Scalled or hiding from Knoth’s followers makes for incredibly stressful and heart-pounding gameplay. Regardless small stumbles of some rare trial and error gameplay, Outlast 2 is a great experience for those wanting to get their heart rate up.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 4 version of Outlast 2 developed and published by Red Barrels.
- Intense gameplay
- Larger environments
- Fantastic use of lighting
- Some trial and error
- Story can be hard to follow