You have nothing to fear except fear itself, or so the saying goes anyway. Well Outlast 2 is here to prove otherwise. The original game was a masterclass in the survival horror genre and this title does nothing to diminish this reputation.
The start of the game sees you flying in a helicopter with your reporter wife as you film her introducing a segment about what happened to a mysterious murdered girl known only as Jane Doe. This is your role in life, you are a cameraman and the camera is the only tool at your disposal. This position doesn’t really change throughout the game but your situation changes dramatically after the helicopter crashes and you find yourself in a strange, isolated rural town that seems to have been turned into the home of some murderous sect.
The game is filled with religious iconography and bastardised recitals and writings of scripture. As you make your way through the town you find notes that help you piece together what is happening in the town and why it has turned the way that it has and as is often the case, all is not as it seems. A man named ‘Papa’ Knoth is the leader of the sect in which he has total control. The murder of the children is writhe and is seen as a sacrifice that needs to be made.
A lot of the game is viewed through your camera. This camera is fitted with a night vision mode that helps you see in the dark and there is also a microphone that gives you a sense of the direction that the sounds are coming from. The camera, as is the way with cameras, uses batteries and they run down fast. You find batteries throughout the world and you need to keep reloading them to be able to see in the gloom and darkness. This adds a sense of intensity to the game as you don’t want to be left in the dark fumbling around. You don’t always need your camera of course as there are lights and fires scattered around so at times you must decide whether to use the camera to help you see better or take a risk and save batteries.
All the way through the game there is a creepiness that sets in. The sound effects of the game are brilliant and will do nothing but unnerve you. People recite scripture in menacing tones and floor boards squeak in the darkness letting you know that you are never alone, there is always someone just around the corner ready to gut you with a machete, or so it seems. If you are spotted then the music ramps up and so does your heart rate. That music is truly terrifying and often you will find yourself rooted to the spot instead of running like you know that you should.
The game does everything that it can to mess with your mind as well. There are sections that are framed as flashbacks and these unsettle you as much as anything else. Everything seems fine but you know that it’s not and strange voices let you know that even here you are not alone and everything is not as it seems.
Infanticide, as we know, is probably one of the most horrific things in the world and Outlast 2 is littered with it. At one point we were in a well lit room so didn’t have our camera up. As we turned a corner the next room was pitch black so we turned on the night vision only to be greeted by a room filled with dead babies. Lovely. Couple these things with dolls and the miniature rocking horses of children been scattered everywhere and you will find yourself shivering even with the heating turned up.
The death scenes are nothing short of horrific. You will find yourself having crucifix shaped axes plunged into your abdomen and faces that look far too normal staring at you as you are being hacked to death. The normality of the faces are terrifying as you get a sense that at one point in time these were just normal people living normal lives in a rural backwater.
The visuals of Outlast 2 are absolutely stunning and the world actually feels alive. This sucks you in and makes you feel as if you are really in this town fighting for your survival. The world reacts like it should do, plants rustle as you move through them, floorboards groan as you tread on them and doors slam shut in such a way as to make you think that someone unpleasant must have heard them.
One of the things that makes most survival horror games really scary are jump scares and there is no shortage of them in Outlast 2. But the thing that makes this game really unsettling is where the jump scares aren’t. Anyone with any knowledge of the genre as an instinct of when something is about to jump out at you so you can prepare yourself. Outlast 2 plays on this instinct perfectly and there ae many moments when you are sure there is something coming and then, nothing. This is genius because when the jump scares do come you are totally unprepared for them.
One of the few faults that we found with Outlast 2 is that sometimes it feels as if you are been dragged in a certain direction. It can feel as if you can’t even look in a certain direction because the game forces you to go a certain way. This is a game which is semi on rails. You do have to go in a certain direction even if it feels like you are choosing to go that way. This isn’t really a bad thing and it feels natural in the way that it is executed, it is just occasionally it becomes really noticeable, especially at moments of pure panic when you are trying to run or crawl away.
Outlast 2 is a great entry in the survival horror genre and anyone who is a fan of changing their underwear regularly should definitely check it out. This is a game that should only be played in the dark by the truly brave and you should be ready for those moments where you can do nothing but put the controller down and walk away just to get your heart rate under control and to calm down a little.
Outlast 2 is available at retail stores and to download digitally from the Xbox Store from 25th April.
Outlast 2 is a terrifying take on the survival horror genre. The visuals are stunning and the scares are perfect. Creating a perfectly creepy atmosphere Outlast 2 is a game that is only for the bravest of souls and is a must for true fans of the genre. This is certainly one to be played with the lights off and you should be afraid, very afraid.