A couple months ago I wrote about my experience with Outlast II’s demo during last year’s Halloween when it was available and it was spooky, to say the least. The demo was a mishmash of different things that you would see in the final game, I must say that since completing that demo Outlast II has returned me to that familiarity and nostalgia that is tied with horror from the late ‘2000s to the early 2010’s with games like Dead Space and Dead Space 2. Outlast II gets it.
From the beginning, Outlast II feels more ambitious although the same concept remains from the original, Outlast II is a complete step-up to the original game that launched four years ago. The original game took place in an Asylum somewhere in the Midwest, this game lets you loose into the Arizona desert as you stumble upon a dangerous religious cult, and this is a good thing because it feels like you’re on this long journey although in the beginning it feels somewhat too linear but I never had a problem. In Outlast, that’s not a bad thing at all because there’s a higher quantity of story beats that prevented the pace from feeling slow and sluggish.Outlast II is an extremely gorgeous game, especially in 4K resolution where everything is more life-like and as a result makes the experience a little more spookier and terrifying.
Outlast II takes place in the same universe and timeline as the original 2013 game, but it introduces new characters who are exploring a very different situation than Miles. You take on the role of Blake, a cameraman who works with his wife Lynn. Premise again: The game starts off with the couple in the helicopter, flying into the desert to investigate a murder. The helicopter crashes and the couple are separated. As Blake, you must slowly explore the surrounding area and you discover a religious cult that has secluded itself in the Arizona desert.
As in the original game, the main character carries a camera, which both allows you to record the evidence and allows you to hear and see in the night- a necessity for the pitch-black night and shaded areas of this mysterious place. The core gameplay is very similar to the original game if not alike: It revolves around you trying to run and hide from the occultists and finding batteries for your camera.
The big change is the setting and the themes. This compund in the desert is enclosed, has areas that are big and small and trying to run away from your enemies will be alot harder because of the big open spaces.
The best example to draw from if you want to get an idea of how the game is actually like, it’s “The Children of the Corn.” and it’s pretty inspired by it. At one point, Blake finds himself trapped between a rock and a hard place and in order to not being chopped, you have to crawl through the fence and into the cornfield from the demo and this is where it’s gets tense, although the entire opening sequence is tense.
This sequence really shows how Outlast II has potential, and some frustrations. The cornfield is pretty huge and sometimes I got lost and others, I died. Outlast II much like the original is a trial-and-error but it’s easy to overcome thanks in part to the break in A.I patterns and linear level designs. This sequence much alike to the opening 20 minutes creeped me the fuck out, it kept me glued to the screen and there was something quite fascinating in how the game keeps you on the edge of your seat, not letting you go until you pass that particular section, it felt really uneasy.
Beyond existential threats, Outlast II is also psychological horror and likes to mess with your head. Throughout the game at certain intervals, Blake keeps having dreams and hallucinations to a school, the same school from the demo and I’m assuming that he went to a catholic school while growing up as a kid. In these moments, you’ll traverse empty hallways, classrooms and much more. It’s here where Outlast II really shines and where the graphics pop, especially in 4K resolution. 4K makes the game almost pop and makes it look almost photorealistic, to the point of being real. In these sections, I can’t help but to remember the days of yore when I went to Sunday School all of those years ago, it’s a little bit weird but I like how the game plays on the darker side of religion and religion as a whole, it’s fascinating that the Red Barrels have done something so unique, original, and terrifying as a whole. Outlast II might end up being a complete masterpiece of a horror game once I get through the game.
For now, Outlast II is shaping up to a hell of a game. Come back tomorrow for my First Impressions of Outlast II.