It’s October which means horror movies, scary games and eating too much candy! That and it’s the best time of the year if you want our opinions on such things! So here in the Backlog Odyssey spooky brain trust, we thought to ourselves, we’re already having anxious bedtimes from the sugar overload, why not throw an outrageously ostentatious example of pure horrific hysteria into this equation – Outlast II! Which has been sitting on our backlog for quite some time now. I mean to be fair we’ve only just recently recovered emotionally from playing the original Outlast a few years ago! I mean, come on, that Whistleblower DLC is enough to make anyone sleep with the lights on for the rest of the year! So once the spooky season rolled around once again, we figured it was high time to put on our big backlogger pants and take this nightmarish sequel for a spin! And spin we did… a downward spiral of panic and mayhem. Oh glob what have we done…
We played Outlast a few years ago and to this day it’s probably the scariest game I’ve ever played. The fact that you can’t fight and can only run and hide makes for a VERY intense gaming experience. I’m glad both of these games are relatively short since I don’t think my heart could take too many evenings spent in these games’ grotesque company. I can’t say I’ve played a lot of scary games in general since it’s just not a genre I gravitate to, but playing a scary game every once in a while is a great change of pace. It makes me appreciate the more calming games I usually play! Outlast II definitely fit that bill nicely this time around so now upon finishing it, I’m readjusting my mental state with some Stardew Valley.
As an avid fan of horror games, but also a bit lukewarm on the whole “found footage” sub-genre, I was kind of hesitant to jump into the Outlast games. I mean, having to view the world through a camcorder lens, especially when it’s 80% night vision, just didn’t seem like it would be the best fit for a video game.
After playing the first game however, my mind was completely changed. For one, having to use the video camera to navigate through dark halls and creep around the night blind enemies made the entire playthrough super intense and scary! Then when you add the subject matter of the story and the explicit/ gruesome imagery, Outlast really turned into an experience I couldn’t shake. So, when I heard that Red Barrels was following it up with an even more story focused roller coaster ride of terror, I was all the way on board!
First of all, I’ll just say that if you enjoyed the original Outlast, Outlast II will pretty much deliver that same experience, just in a different setting. The biggest difference being an overall revamp in the graphics, which are absolutely stunning, even when it’s completely tinted green while looking through your night vision lens. That and a bigger focus on the narrative. Which if religious extremists hell bent on sacrificing your girlfriend because she is apparently bearing the antichrist, gives you the hibbly jibblies, then I’m pretty sure you’ll be on the edge of your seat the whole time.
Compared to the original though, I didn’t find Outlast II to be quite as frightening nor did I find it quite as disturbing. Which might disappoint some people if they’re looking for the same kind of scares. Instead of creeping around claustrophobic hallways in a condemned psychiatric hospital, you’ll be running through the dark forests and corn fields trying to skirt a very violent mob of acolytes. Which of course is still intense, especially when you’re trying to crawl through vents and such to escape, but that’s a more immediate fear instead of a looming constant sense of dread.
Outlast II definitely met that manic standard that the first game set. Though I will say it was overall a very different type of scary. Outlast really banked on that feeling of claustrophobia and the feeling of being trapped in your situation. The main character is locked inside a building and even when he tastes fresh air he’s trapped behind electric fences and mobs of homicidal people. Outlast II set the story up in a wide open area so the only reason the main character had for trudging through the landscape was the hope of rescuing his kidnapped partner. While both games had plenty of panic inducing chase scenes, the kind of fear you felt traversing through the main body of each game was very distinct. Outlast II holds up as a solid sequel in that sense. It absolutely brought the terror and anxiety as the first game did but it did it in a little bit different way.
Outlast II is only a few hours longer than the original, not including the DLC, but where I found that most of your extra time was spent, was during the many flashback sequences. I understand that these scenes added a personal note to the main character and his relationship with his kidnapped partner, but really they ended up just feeling like an unnecessary filler that distracted you from the main story, which if I’m being honest needed MORE filler. I assumed there would be some connection made between them and the main story at some point, but if there was a big reveal it went totally over my head. Needless to say, I wasn’t a big fan and I hope that if there ever is a third title, the devs trim the fat a little more and stay on task. Other than that everything was superb in all its gruesome glory!
If I could change anything about Outlast II, it would probably be to add more exposition to the story. I mean, you’ll find notes scattered around as you play, that’ll give you the low down of what’s going on and how crazy these people are, and you’ll see the occasional cutscene that hammers that point home. However, due to the way the game is played, which is mostly trying not to get caught or running from danger, it’s super easy to miss some of the more key story notes. I say that because, despite how unnerving the narrative is, I find myself wanting to know more about this cult, how they got there and why they’re so determined to kill us! So maybe just a few more cutscenes or at least some more dynamic storytelling where I don’t have to stop and read a novel.
That being said, I loved the intensity of the chase scenes and the setting overall. I would have preferred more of the close quarters and claustrophobic moments like in the original, but there’s just something about a bloodthirsty cult hunting you down in the deep dark woods, that gives me the goosebumps and that’s exactly what I want from a game like this!
My gut reaction is absolutely yes! If you like horror games and the intensity of being chased by a pack of murderous zealots, or the crushing sense of powerlessness because you can’t fight back, or sneaking through a camp that could fly into a savage frenzy at any moment, then I think you’ll very much enjoy Outlast II! This comes with a caveat however. The Outlast games are very intense and purposefully disturbing, so if you have a weak stomach or have an opposition to horror in general, then you might want to stay away from this one. It’s quite shocking at times and will most definitely make you want to sleep with the lights on!
I really enjoyed my time with Outlast II. It was terrifying from start to finish. I would be very eager to see what a third addition to the series would bring to the table. So, I can safely say that this game gets my full recommendation. Of course if you can’t stomach extravagant levels of gore and disturbing imagery then I’d wholly ignore that recommendation!
Outlast II really is one of those games that just feels wrong to say, “Oh it was fun!” and while it’s true in an entertainment sense I think the general consensus boils down to something more like, “It was an experience I’ll never forget!”. We both found ourselves jumping off the couch and screaming at the TV, and each other, on more than one occasion with this game. While that might sound like a bad thing, for a game that’s main objective is to scare the pants off of anyone who dares play it, that’s actually one of the highest recommendations you could ask for! So, even though we will spend the next few weeks jumping at every loud sound and keeping the house lit up like a Christmas tree, we hope that won’t deter you from giving Outlast II a go. Especially if you’re in the mood to crank your spooky activities all the way up to eleven!
If you’re interested in checking out Outlast II yourself you can find it on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam!