The decay of a corrupt religion and the loss of hope in the eyes of the wicked, bring upon a fear like no other and a cannibalistic nature that makes even the once strongest of men turn ripe with rage and hate.
Reviewed by Arielle Danan
Platform(s): Pc, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One
Developer: Red Barrels
Publisher: Will Games
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Price: $30 USD
Outlast II is a first person psychological survival horror game released by Red Barrels and it dives into the depths of horror and gore like no other. Just as a recap, for those who might not know, the first Outlast game took place in Mount Massive Asylum and you had to escape while hiding from maniacs who wanted a piece of your bloody body bits. The same feel and approach return with Outlast Two. In this game, you are Blake Langerman a journalist who works with his wife, Lynn. The only difference is in this game is you deal with a group of religious fanatics who are looking for a savior to help them out of their own personal rotting hell.
So here are my thoughts on this hellish of a game. Even though the game has the same setup, (investigative journalists looking for answers to mysterious murders), The difference between Outlast and Outlast II is remarkably different. During the beginning of the game, you will experience the anxiety of whats to come, a cold shiver down your spine coupled with an unnerving quiet in certain parts of the game. I found that in the game it was more of a survival horror game, That I was always strategically planning my routes and thinking through every step meticulously. Or in some circumstances just running with my tail tucked between my legs. When it came to the halfway point of the game I felt like I was just running away from monster continuously; it didn’t feel like there was any true mission left to the story. In this game as the player, you go back and forth from a school to the village. In the school, you encounter memories of your past, and a monster that will scare you at first but becomes repetitive and slightly annoying to deal with.
The Single Player:
Through the madness that is Outlast two, I found myself constantly asking the question “Why” or “How can Red Barrels put this into a video game?” Through the game there were brilliantly written notes, a transsexual named Val, who is said to be a woman but is described as a man in certain circumstances and there are times when there was complete silence and for the first time I was actually terrified, not only of the game but of my own imaginings, and not knowing what was around the next corner or “imagined reality” if you will. The game this time around felt so different, not just in the area it was set, but in the way it makes you feel. Yes, the Outlast franchise was built on the fact that it can make your skin crawl and give you an outstanding level of uneasiness, but this takes things to a whole other level. In this game, I felt like I was being hunted, which to a certain extent you are.
Now, I will get into the religious overlaying that this game contains. From the moment the game started to the moment the game ended religion was the main purpose/focus of the game, from the notes I read to the cut scenes. In one specific cut scene where Blake goes back to the school, he is a little boy and with a former classmate Jessica. Jessica is confronted by the head priest of the Catholic school, Father Loudermilch. In the game, he is made to seem like a pedophile who has harmed Jessica. Blake is then told to leave by the priest, then in another segment finds Jessica’s, face bloody and frozen in fear. But, here is the interesting part, the creature that we have been seeing in the halls of the school that has been terrorizing us is in the place of the priest at the top of the stairwell when we see Jessica dead body. Could the priest be the monster in the school that’s chasing us?
One very unique thing I found was that not every monster wants to kill you, and that’s one of the brilliant things about this game. Some of the “monsters” will chase you, some will yell at you, some will just leave you alone out of fear and some will leave you alone if you leave them alone. Now let’s get into the mechanics of the game. you can crouch to hide, you have a camcorder that allows you to capture moments for your notebook, which is an awesome feature that Red Barrels kept. Barrels also put in a cool new mechanism in the camcorder function, a microphone that allows you to listen more in-depth in your surroundings. Barrels added a new feature that you can slide while running which is perfect for when you are trying to get into a small place whilst running from someone or something.
While the mechanics have been reworked, and the game became, somehow, more terrifying, there is something uneasy about the game I feel. And no, it’s not the chopped off heads or the swinging corpses. It’s the fact that I feel as if, Barrels didn’t keep to the story. Now hear me out on this. The beginning of the game was wonderful, I was just getting into it, I was in an unknown territory, and everything was fresh. As the game went on I felt as if there was no plot line, where before in the first game it had a consistent plot line where things would move at a steady pace. with this game everything was just molding into one another, there was no clear mission. There is something though that I feel this game did very well I love the notes, the notes have to be some of the best writing I have read in a game in a very long time. But the notes are only a small portion of the game. By the end of the game, I just felt as if I was tirelessly running from monster to monster with no true mission anymore of what the game was about.
With that being said, there is a silver lining in all of this, at the very end of the game we see Lynn, leaning over in the same fashion as that of the many who are looking for their salvation. In the notes, and through the game the people in the village are looking for a savior, and they think they have found it in the belly of Blakes wife, Lynn. Rushing to find a safe haven Blake and Lynn come across a recurring character, Marta. Marta is one of the only characters in the entire game that scared me to the point of wanting to turn off the Xbox and call it a day. But no, persistence and the willingness to face one’s fears took me over and allowed me to finish the game. In the midst of running, and wondering what this game has in store for me, the music kicks in at the tail end of the chase, Marta, standing before my character Blake about to swing down her mighty weapon, and all of a sudden a cross from the church roof falls, impaling her. Funny isn’t it? The main thing that Marta trusted, killed her.
In the end of the game, Lynn gives birth to a baby girl and says “there’s nothing there.” So was this all in Lynn’s imagination? The light that is shown in the sky in the game a way of Murkoffs control that could have made everyone see one reality versus another? After the baby was born we see Knoth for the first time in the game. In my opinion, Knoth should have made an earlier appearance. Maybe we might get a DLC with this game too and it will bring him in as a more frequent character. Who knows… Knoth asks about how he killed his children and suggests Blake do the same. Knoth, kills himself in fear of whats to come from the strength of Blake’s child. As we get towards the end of the game, we see that famous white light. Could that light be a control mechanism from Murkoff? Could this really be all in Blake’s head where Lynn might still be alive, and he really never had a baby? Who knows… in the last scene of the game Blake is back at the school and with Jessica’s ghost, kneeling and praying.
Super Game Judgement:
So here are my final thoughts. There are so many unanswered questions I have…Was Murkoff using a mind controlling experiment in a controlled environment so see how people would react? Was the monster who was chasing Blake in the school, in fact, the Priest? I feel like if there was an experiment going on in the Murkoff were they using Blake’s most vulnerable memories to make him emotionally weaker? Who knows what the true meaning of this game is. I am hopeful that they will create a DLC to answer some confusing questions that have arisen. All in all, it was a wonderful gaming experience, that has a lot of good parts. A terrifying atmosphere, a feeling of being hunted, Barrels reached out to their audience in different ways. Making them question religion, the strength of humanity and the notes that create a feeling of uneasiness and fear. But the overall mission/story of the game I feel got lost along the way.
- The Graphics were amazing
- The game mechanics were outstanding
- The lore and notes of the game were brilliant
- The game didn’t follow through with a coherent story
- After a while, it just feels like you are constantly running
- Knoth wasn’t in the game enough besides within the notes.