After some inexplicable helicopter crash, you, a camera guy are found seperated from your journalist wife. You put on your glasses and wander through the bright moonlit night through somewhere in Southern, rural America and find yourself stumbling into the village of a crazy redneck cult, in which something seemingly supernatural or otherwise is occurring. This is the set up for developer Red Barrels latest game, Outlast 2.
Anyone that has any familiarity with indie horror games from the last half decade will find Outlast 2 familiar, even more obviously if you’ve played any of the original. For those not in the know, Outlast 2 is part of that trend in survival horror games in which you are totally disarmed, with no hope of fighting back, so you must either run or hide or run and hide. Maybe you can walk past slowly sometimes instead. You also have a camcorder with a green night vision filter in order to help you see in the more dimly lit surroundings, like in the original and is a cool effect that adds to the tension. But gone are the classic mechanics of survival horror. While this demo is 15 minutes long and is perhaps only the introduction of the game or some kind of vertical slice, there are not even any puzzles like Amnesia: The Dark Descent which started this whole sub genre. In addition to no combat or a seeming lack of puzzles, there does not seem like there will be any further development to stealth mechanics ala Alien: Isolation with it’s flares, noisemakers, molotovs and so forth. Maybe this game will surprise us and have parts where you can actually fight back, I won’t hold my breath. The key problem with being unable to fight back means the game has a much more difficult job in trying to be more than a one note and dynamic experience, as the hyperlinked video above discusses in more detail.
While the mechanics of the game seem underdeveloped, there are a few things I do like about this game is that the visuals are amazing, being finely detailed and having a nice and not too aggressive noise filter, with excellent performance and overall polish. I also liked the really confronting rooms. For example, there is one room you pass by that is lit by one crucifix shaped hole, with the pale moonlight shining right through onto a pile of charred baby corpses that crunch under your feet as you walk past. It’s not exactly subtle, but it was effective. However, it would be wise for the full release to pace these sorts of things out properly because otherwise it would be exhausting. I do appreciate from this demo that the game won’t shy away from disturbing imagery that would also work as a Deicide album cover.
Check out the demo for some spookiness and if you liked the previous Outlast or this type of horror in general, you’ll probably like this. The full game doesn’t have a release date apart from 2017, so it will have some pretty stiff competition from Resident Evil 7, which is also set in the rural American south.