by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
This Is It
In my time, I have played more horror titles than I can think of. I’ve played ones that have stuck with me long after I finished. Silent Hill, Penumbra, Alien: Isolation, and most recently Resident Evil 7. I’ve played ones that just failed in nearly every way to succeed as a horror game, most notably Kraven Manor and Haunted House: Cryptic Graves. I’ve played ones that were good while they lasted, but then I’ve yet to play through them again because they relied too heavily on scripted scares; Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Outlast, both widely praised, are two of the biggest offenders of this. I loved them, but when the scripted scares are so memorable that I expect them whenever I attempt to play them again they lose their luster and become akin to visiting a Haunted House attraction twice in the same evening.
Then there’s Outlast 2. Ladies and gentlemen, this is it. This is the one that pushed my fear factor to its limit. My heart raced faster than when I was hunted by the Bakers of Resident Evil 7 or the Xenomorph of Alien: Isolation; my stomach turned enough that I had to take a break from the game a few times. I have never felt as invested into a narrative of a horror game in such a way for a long time. I make the claim here and now, that Outlast 2 is and will be for some time, my favorite horror title; and it’s not for the faint of heart or fragile of mind.
A Change Of Venue
Outlast 2 is set in the same universe as its predecessor, but as far as I can tell other than admission by the developers themselves, it is Outlast only in name and game mechanics. Outlast 2 takes us off of Mount Massive in Colorado and down to the desert landscape of Arizona. Stepping into the shoes of a loving husband and professional cameraman, players take on the role of Blake Langermann. Together with his wife Lynn, they charter a helicopter to an isolated off-the-grid area that sees very little interaction with the outside world. In horror fashion, everything takes a dramatic turn very quickly as the helicopter is soon stripped from the sky.
As Blake awakens he is alone, Lynn is missing, the pilot has been partially stripped of his clothing, mutilated, and bound to a tree. These opening moments set the bleak stage that is the narrative of Outlast 2. There is very little good to feel about except that you’re not one of the poor victims seen throughout the game. Your goal is to find Blake’s wife, and to get the hell out. You can’t save everyone; sometimes you’ll question if you can even save Lynn, or yourself for that matter.
The Gates of Hell
Welcome to Temple Gate! Population... undetermined. A lot of very sadistic locals, with their feet planted firmly in a twisted cult based on altered teachings of the Bible by Sullivan Noth. A flock is only as prosperous as their Shepard allows them to be; in that way Father Noth has cultivated an entire town into a twisted killing machine. Temple Gate, established in the early 1970’s, has had plenty of time to build up a following of those faithful to Noth and his vision of being the guardians to stop a forthcoming apocalypse.
Over the course of the game you’ll become far too well acquainted with the town, and those who dwell within. Ranging from ‘normal’ farmers and housewives to far more ominous denizens of unique design and abilities, Temple Gate isn’t the paradise Father Noth paints it to be. It’s hell on earth. It also offers more freedom of movement than the first game of the series; while the original Outlast had you confined to the halls and cells of an asylum, making it heavily dependent on scripted moments, Outlast 2’s layout is often more expansive while still keeping players on a path forward to the next area.
A perfect blend of gore, atmosphere, and tension. Scripted and unscripted moments provide countless moments of terror. Plot is one of the darkest I’ve experienced in gaming.
Cliffhanger ending leaves a few important things unanswered.