Published on May 4th, 2017 | by Ahmad Gameel0
Outlast 2 is a first-person survival horror game developed and published by Red Barrels and it is the sequel to 2013’s critically acclaimed and beloved by most horror fans Outlast.
So Outlast 2 starts with the protagonist Blake Langermann, an investigation journalist with his wife Lynn in a helicopter that crash lands when a sudden white light appears in front of it on their way to the Supai region of Arizona to investigate a mysterious murder of a Jane-doe. After it crashes, Blake wakes up to find his wife missing and goes to search for her with the only thing he has on him which is his Camera. Soon he realizes that finding Lynn wasn’t going to be easy when he stumbles on a religious cult that thinks that the end is near and the Antichrist will be born and they think Lynn will give birth to the Antichrist.
I thought the setting and the story were interesting especially when I read that the developers took inspiration from the real life tragedy that was the Jonestown tragedy. But unfortunately what we got here is a confusing mess of a story that keeps jumping back from the Arizona setting to a school setting. I really hated how the story in this game unfolds. To know anything about what is happening, you have to collect notes littered throughout the game and another way to know about the events of the story is recording some of the locations in front of you with the camera and Blake comments on those events when you see the footage but even then, he doesn’t really add much to the story as most of the comments he says are so obvious and you don’t need him to say anything to understand what was happening in front of you.
For instance, there was a part where you record a chapel and Blake says “The chapel, a chapel is supposed to be sanctuary”. Most of the lines in the game made me go “No shit, Sherlock!” . Blake’s comments felt stupid and added nothing interesting or insightful to the story to the point I wished he was a Silent Protagonist because of how dull he deliver those lines. I didn’t enjoy the way the story was told through notes especially when most of the notes were just some verses from the cult’s bible and there is exactly one note through the whole 6 hour campaign that actually tells you what happened to the people and why they became like that and the way the game ended is insulting and an obvious sequel or dlc bait. I was left very disappointed and sad because I really thought the game had an intriguing premise.
The sound design in Outlast 2 is phenomenal. It made the game feel incredibly immersive. When you’re being chased around and the sound kicks in with everyone screaming and chanting words from their bible, it will scare the crap out of you and make your skin shivers. It will make you feel like you’re really there. Or the school segment, the sound developers really knocked it out of the park which made me wish the game focused more on the school setting than the Arizona setting because that is where the game felt unsettling and downright creepy. The voice acting was pretty damn good except for Blake. Like I mentioned above, I really didn’t enjoy the way his lines were delivered especially when the rest of the voice actors did a remarkable job to immerse you into the crazy religious cult atmosphere of the game.
The visual aspects in Outlast 2 are top notch and easily compete with most AAA titles on the market today. I was honestly surprised at how insanely detailed and realistic the game looked especially when you turn on the night vision mode on your camera. The school setting had some of the best lighting I have ever seen in a game. And the characters models in the game are surprisingly good.
So this is the part where the game really takes a nosedive. There is no other way to put this but the gameplay in this game is shit, repetitive, cheap and extremely frustrating. Much like the first Outlast, you can’t defend yourself. You can run, hide, climb, jump, slide. You see, the first hour or so, the gameplay is actually fun and tense where you don’t know what to do or where to go and wonder what the hell is going on here. The brilliance of this game really shined in the early school segments where the game in my opinion, seriously reached P.T. level of immersion and tension. But unfortunately, the more you play, the more everything becomes clear in terms of the poor gameplay design. You see, while its similar to the first game, what the first game did well was balance the gameplay elements and chase sequences and whatnot. Here, all those balanced elements are thrown out of the window in a favor for a more linear scripted chase after chase sequences
Most of the game after the first hour goes like this, go to Point A, find something that is blocking your progression, run to Point B (since stealth sucks in this game and the game is extremely linear so running is your better option in 90% of the segments) and find something that unblocks the progression in Point A then back to Point A and find yourself magically in the school to find yourself doing the same thing over and over again and then magically find yourself back to Arizona.
Or go to Point A and find an enemy that can kill you in one hit blocking your progression, run to Point B and hide for a second somewhere in Point B and go out of hiding to find out that the enemy was waiting for you to get out of your hiding place and run from Point B all the way back to Point A and rinse and repeat till the end of the game.
All those segments that have you go from Point A to Point B then backtrack to Point A made me realize that the developer just wanted to prolong a really short and repetitive game especially in the school segment where later on, everything just looked the same with little changes here and there.
Oh, and did I mention that you will die a lot because of how frustratingly linear the game is? You see, in most of the segments, the only way to actually progress in the game is to take this scripted path or else you will die. Also, can we talk about how stupid and annoying the Camera Battery system is in this game? Seriously, who thought that a battery that barely lasts for 3 or 4 minutes max is fun? I hated that in the first game and I hated it more in this. They should have scrapped the whole battery recharge system as it is just annoying and also what Camera batteries only last 4 minutes? Those must be the cheapest batteries ever made.
And the healing system is so poorly designed and I found it easier to just restart the checkpoint than to use a bandage in this game. Using a healing item goes like this, Blake stops running or walking and stands still and you have to wait for Blake to put the bandage on his hands in an animation that lasts for 10 seconds which pretty much means that whatever is chasing you will catch you and kill you so it makes the bandage usage a gameplay disadvantage. How this healing system got the OK from the developers is beyond me especially when 5 out of those 6 hours of playtime are you being chased.
So instead of improving the gameplay elements from the first Outlast, the developers somehow made it worse. There are so many segments where I kept asking myself, why can’t I defend myself using the weapons that are littered all over the place? Why can’t I push back the person that is blocking my way? I often wonder why isn’t Blake defending himself or killing the people that kidnapped his wife with the intention of doing serious harm to her. I am sure another person in his shoes would have fought like hell to take back the love of his life. I honestly wish the developers would have asked themselves those questions before making Outlast 2 because it looks to me like they just made the same game like the first one with better visuals without thinking of adding anything new.
The game really had the potential to be a great game but it was hampered by an infuriating and repetitive gameplay so for that I award it a 2.5/5. This could have easily been a 4/5 game or even higher if the same care and effort that went into the visuals and sound design went into the story and gameplay. I believe the developers should have delayed the game and learned a thing or two from Alien Isolation and Resident Evil 7 when it came to the gameplay mechanics. I honestly wish I could recommend this game with its current asking price but with the way it’s designed, I simply can’t. If you’re looking for an excellent survival horror game then you’re better off playing Alien Isolation or Resident Evil 7 or even the first Outlast and its dlc. If you are dying to play Outlast 2 then I suggest you wait for its price to drop before buying it.