Outlast II – Review
Follow Genre: Horror, Survival
Developer: Red Barrels Studio
Publisher: Red Barrels Studio
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Tested on: PC

Outlast II – Review

Site Score
7.3
Good: Terrifying and tense
Bad: More open environments don't mesh well with the panicky gameplay
User Score
7.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)

Outlast II is the third installment in the Outlast series, which might seem like a typo, but isn’t. The first game was just called Outlast, the second in the series was called: Outlast: Whistleblower, which was all about uncovering the events that happened in the previous game and had you revisiting the insane asylum you got out of in Outlast, and now there’s Outlast II. This game isn’t about running away like a wuss in tight corridors, but has you venturing outside, where all the really scary people are, because they might be just around the corner and every sound might be the last thing you hear. What was that noise? Was what you see moving out of the corner of your eye something completely inocuous or is it something feral aiming to sink its fangs or weapons into your exposed neck? No, this game is totally fine to play in the dark, completely alone with the sounds set to max. No really. Go for it.

Outlast II

Story

The story is about Blake Langermann, which isn’t a name that shouts out ‘helpless wuss’ on the top of its lungs, who has joined his wife as a cameraman. This dynamic duo goes so far to dig deep and take really high risks to get to the bottom of things. They’ve set their eyes on the weird case of ‘Jane Doe’, the name of a pregnant woman who was murdered and which will lead you deep into the Arizon Desert.

Soon after you’ve started on your quest, the helicopter you are in goes for an impromptu emergency landing, which basically means it crashes. The pilots? Gone, your wife? Also gone. So armed with your camera and nothing else, not even a Swiss army knife to ward anything off, you take the trek to find out what happened to everybody and where they went. If you are the rational thinker, then this whole premise makes it difficult to get immersed. Who on earth would take a camera, but nothing to defend themselves with? Or make it their first task on their (bucket) list to be potentially armed? It even takes place in America where guns are commonplace and ‘defending’ yourself comes in all shapes and sizes. There’s plenty of sharp jagged pieces of metal and probably bars from the crash for you to utilize as a weapon. Why not take those instead of your crummy camera? Why even risk the walk at night? Make a fire, wait for first sunlight, so you see where you are going and then go out? If your wife got out the wreckage then she’s probably fine, and if she isn’t she’s not going to be more dead by the time you get there, it’s not like you are going to be saving anyone with just a camera, Blake.

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Aside from the rational mindset, the game cranks up the ‘what the fuck’ meter to 11 and you’ll be clued in on events and what happened via camera recordings, which you can view whenever and however much you want so that’s really well done if you aren’t capable of playing the game for longer periods -if you are easily stressed out- and you’ve forgotten the plot for some reason.

Graphics

Outlast II is terrifying because of its graphics. The work with the camera focusing and unfocusing when something comes into view and the constant atmosphere of you not knowing if what you are seeing is a human or something else or if it’s even coming your way makes things really, really frightening. If the enemies do get close to you, their bug eyes and general frantic rage to get to you will get your heart racing. It’s really scary to be hiding in tall grass and have the eyes of the enemies flare up in the sight of your night vision on your camera. It makes you wonder if they are actually looking at you and are just lulling you in a false sense of security by not immediately pouncing. It’s a weird atmosphere that if you let it draw you in will probably make it impossible for you to play the game in one session.

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Sound

A lack of sound can mean two things. It could mean the developer could not be assed to get the audio in the game or it could be used to build tension. Outlast II uses it for the latter. The lack of a constant music stream means that you are relying on environmental noises to guide you when it comes to enemy locations, their movements and getting the heeby jeebies when playing this game. The rustling of the grass sounds a million times more ominous, the lack of chirping crickets makes it seem like there’s an oppressive force weighing down on you. The cawing of the crow flying straight up in your face is generally alarming and will make you jump. The audio mixing is done really well.

Gameplay

Outlast II is a survival horror game. It’s basically a walking simulator with a very tense atmosphere and jump scares. w,a,s,d moves you around and the mouse moves your head around so you can look around at all the weirdness surrounding you. Though the game can be played with the keyboard just fine, hooking up a controller to your PC will make the experience that much more smooth.

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Where the original Outlast and Outlast Whistleblower were more linear experiences, which did the games a favor, Outlast II gives you more possibilities by putting you out in the open. The areas are less linear but this makes it possible for you to mess up an escape by walking into grass that has an invisible wall where in a previous part of the game you could hide in. These kind of games work well with a linear approach because that means you can keep the tension high and the story moving at your own pace, in this case a breakneck one. So making players wander around, often into the arms of the enemies isn’t a great way to go about it. Freedom and immerging gameplay is all fine and dandy, but if you are as frail as a potato chip, it’s great to know where you have to go exactly so you don’t get frustrated after getting ripped by a new asshole for the umpteenth time because you didn’t know you have to lead the enemies away before you can progress. Outlast II even does this to the first enemy you come across, so you can’t just run past it because he/she/it will maul you.

Outlast_2_01

You’re completely defenseless so you’re constantly looking for a way out and making sure you aren’t found out by hiding under beds, in cupboards and using your camera to look into darkness with its night vision and the ability to listen to enemy movement to clue you in on how fucked you are if you barge into the next room or open area. The gameplay is barebones, but it does what it says on the box, it’ll scare the living hell out of you and freak you out like nothing else.

Conclusion

Outlast II is not a game you’ll play to unwind, nor was it created to be played that way, what it was created for, making you feel frightened, terrified and weirded out with a sense of lethal urgency. It does so really, really well. If you are looking for something you can only manage to play for fifteen minutes in fear of your heart blowing out, then look no further, if you aren’t looking for that or if you’re tired of the genre, then you’d best look elsewhere.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Outlast II - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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