Outlast 2 Demo Review
Outlast changed the game. Touted as one of the most frightening games in years, the first-person survival experience ramped up the survival element by taking away your ability to do anything but run and hide. As if that wasn't enough, it also made your ability to see your impending doom coming a finite resource.
To give a bit of background, I played Outlast for weeks. Hours upon hours of grinding Insanity Mode, no less than a dozen full playthroughs. I loved it. I still love it. I still livestream it periodically just for kicks, despite the fact that every jump scare and spooky noise is burned indelibly into my mind with no less accuracy and detail than a favorite song or movie. I was thrilled when the demo was released. I jumped and grinned like a fool. The gameplay footage of my first two runs, plucked from my livestream channel, follows for those who would rather see the game in action for themselves. For the rest of you, read on for a full review.
It would appear that the player character will be a cameraman working with his wife as an investigative journalist. The couple have traveled to Arizona to look into the disappearance of an unidentified pregnant woman. That's pretty much all we know at this point.
Investigative journalism remains the motive for the player to place themselves in a horrible situation with a video camera. That, it seems, is where the comparison is going to have to end. No asylum. No crazies chattering to themselves in the dark. The antagonistic force in the demo, whatever it may be, feels very deliberate and calculating. From eerie whispers in the darkness to disembodied maniacal laughter, the forces that you find yourself up against clearly do not have your best interests at heart and not because they don't know any better.
The very prominent image of an upside-down burning cross will undoubtedly factor largely into the story of the game when it releases. One can reasonably assume that the conflict will center around some kind of cult, as several instances within the game would suggest.
Soundtrack is bleak and barely noticeable, as it was with the original. It almost sounds, while playing, like sort of a rhythmic ambient noise punctuated with occasional crescendos at "scary" moments. This is not a bad thing, I assure you, as it draws your focus to the many potentially threatening rustled, slams, bangs, and footsteps going on all around you.
The general ambiance is, as one would anticipate, very dark. A rustic village a la Resident Evil 4 complete with machete-wielding weirdos and animal guts. With the exception of a brief sequence inside a school, things take place in said village entirely within the scope of the demo.
The camera, night vision, and batteries are all back as the hallmarks of the gameplay. Controls are simple. You can walk, run, crouch, and lean out around corners. The camera has a nightvision function which will allow you to see in pitch-black areas but will drain batteries, which can be found in limited quantity throughout the environment. When your batteries die, your visibility flickers in and out and has a significantly reduced range.
The most noteworthy change I've come across thus far is the addition of an audio indicator on the camera display which shows the direction (either left or right of the field of view) of any noise. I can see a lot of value in that little addition, and though I didn't use it a whole lot throughout the demo I'm fairly certain it will become an invaluable tool in the full game.
Alright, so having played through the demo several times now, I think I can give an adequate review of what I now expect from the full release.
Outlast 2 looks like it is sticking close to the formula that made the original such a success, and that is a very good thing. The improved graphics, smoother general mechanics, and familiar ambiance will serve both as a great continuation of a truly terrifying series and as a good jumping-off point for newcomers to the Outlast franchise.
That being said, as can be seen in the above gameplay footage I really only "jumped" once. I really wasn't terribly scared, truth be told, and while maybe that is a result of countless hours bashing my head against the original as well as a number of horror titles released since, this concerns me. When playing the first game, I felt a genuine sense of dread every step of the way through the game. Every shadow, every dark corner, every door harbored the threat of immediate and grizzly doom. Here, however, I must say that the formulaic application of scares felt entirely predictable. I knew when I was safe and when I wasn't. Even when I wasn't, the enemies' pursuits were easily evaded and quickly abandoned.
Overall, while in general I enjoyed myself, I hope that the full release of the game does a better job of giving me reason to clench my jaw and apply a firm, white-knuckled grip to my controller because frankly, it just wasn't there.
Easter Egg Hunt
Easter Eggs and Analysis
The above video is an in-depth playthrough to supplement the prior ones in a search for any fun little tidbits that may have been hidden in the demo.
I've placed this video and text at the bottom because it may contain potential spoilers/things people would want to figure out for themselves.
Beyond what we already know (stated above) the only major thing I've discovered so far is a computer disc for Sosoft Chassis 95. That little tidbit coupled with the use of "older" looking overhead projectors and the suggestion in the introductory splash screen that "going crazy might be the only sane thing to do" leads me to believe that the high school sequence in the middle of the demo is some sort of hallucination. Additionally, the only "supernatural" occurrences that go on during the demo take place during that high school sequence. Any time the setting is within the village area, the only threats are physical beings. The disembodied whispers and such can easily be explained by the same hallucination/going crazy theory.
Short version, I'm theorizing that the player character is going insane, even during what appears to be the fairly introductory area presented to us in the demo.
I'm not just a gamer, and I don't often take time out to do reviews. Generally, my gaming is contained to the occasional video and livestreaming on Twitch. Feel free to check out my channel if you're interested in chatting or have any gaming-related questions.
Outlast 2 is the property of developer Red Barrels, and all images and video are original.