Early Impressions: OUTLAST 2
In this Crossfader series, our video games staff takes a look at early versions of upcoming releases so that you can know which hype trains to board.
OUTLAST was more or less designed for Let’s Plays with facecams. It’s not quite in the same club as FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S, but more along the lines of what AMNESIA would look like if it was produced by Blumhouse. It had plenty of atmosphere, terror, and downright shock value to make it one of the most over-the-top horror games of 2013. Recently, the demo for OUTLAST 2 was released and man, does it not hold back. It should be immediately said that I’m terribly afraid of everything all the time: I get anxious going through Halloween mazes; I can only watch horror films when I’m allowed to openly mock them; and I really would’ve preferred to play this game with the lights on, but I didn’t — also, I wore headphones. I just want to make it abundantly clear that I sacrificed a lot to write this preview.
Hah! Visual humor!
OUTLAST 2 puts you in a similar position as its predecessor, where you are an investigative reporter looking for the scoop on a story involving a naked, pregnant woman who was found murdered somehow in the middle of a desert. Things go as they usually do in these sorts of situations: After a horrible helicopter crash, you find yourself separated from your wife and in the midst of a great and terrible horror. Instead of a mental asylum that serves as a front for government experiments (Spoiler Alert), the player finds themselves in a horrible desert town full of murderous inhabitants that are obsessed with religion.
The demo serves as sort of a walking (and in my case, running and crying) tour of a few of the locales you’ll come across in OUTLAST 2. The first environ in the demo, and the one most ostensibly featured in the marketing, is a desert village that’s two tumbleweeds away from being a ghost town, or will be as soon as the inhabitants sacrifice each other to Satan. I’m not sure what “Satanis Inimcal Dei” means, but if someone scrawled it over the door to their spooky murder grounds, I get the feeling they’re not about “peace” and “love.” Oh yeah, and just like the dirt farmers from RESIDENT EVIL 4, some of these dudes have a bad habit of barfing up tentacles and other odd extremities.
There’s a few corpses and spilled offal here and there, but once you advance through the blood-soaked death town, there’s a Catholic school segment that may or may not exist in the player’s mind. Because after shining some possible light on his past, you somehow appear in the demo’s first real chase sequence; running from Scripture-quoting hicks armed with pointed objects. At this point, OUTLAST 2 introduces you to what I’m calling “corn cover,” as you take refuge among corn fields to avoid your pursuers. Maybe it’s a new mechanic, maybe it’s not, but I’m hoping it is for reasons that I’ll get to in a moment. Once you escape the hillbillies, the demo ends, and pretty violently, too, I might add. I don’t think that’s much of a spoiler, because fans of the series probably figured that’s how it was gonna go down.
Here’s a hint
I’m very conflicted about this demo, because it seems strikingly similar to the first OUTLAST. Reporter finds himself in over his head, and a camcorder with a night-vision attachment is his only weapon amongst the murderous cretins he finds himself trapped with. There’s also a lot of running and hiding involved. I’m not sure if I’m disappointed that there’s no mechanical development because A; I’ve never played the first game in it’s entirety and B; It still works so well. It almost feels like there’s nothing that really needs to be improved upon; the simple mechanics are all the game really needs when its only purpose is to scare the living shit out of you — which it did. For me, at least.
Those looking for an experience in OUTLAST 2 similar to that of the first OUTLAST will not be disappointed. Similarly, those put off by the first game’s edge factor will probably be just as repulsed by the sequel. This game is shaping up to be terrifying and unrelenting, to a degree not seen in even the most violent games. It’s the same game in a different setting, but sometimes that’s all you need.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4