Outlast was one of those polarising horror games that lead to arguments about what actually qualifies as scary as opposed to shocking. Some people claimed it was simply YouTube fodder, designed to get online celebrities with face-cams to scream a lot for our amusement, whilst others would claim it was a real survival horror experience in which you felt genuinely vulnerable throughout. Personally, I quite enjoyed it. For a good proportion of the game I felt unsettled by the atmosphere and threatened by the denizens of the world, hunting down my defenseless cameraman. Towards the end the game started to lose some pace, with the same tricks being thrown at you and the ability to exploit somewhat stupid AI reducing the fear factor significantly. On the whole though, I felt it was a fun budget horror experience. And now we have the inevitable sequel! Because it’s 2016 and success = sequel. This is going to be a look at the events of the demo and a quick overview on my feelings on it. Enjoy!
If this game follows on from the story of the original game, it hides it well in the demo. You’re a guy with a night vision camera (in keeping with the previous game’s theme) searching for his wife through a seemingly abandoned settlement in the hills of the Arizona desert. Obviously all is not well as you gradually slip through the shacks, finding bodies in various states of dismemberment. After a short while you come across a figure in the shadows watching you. Being an Outlast survivor, I expected to be rushed at immediately, but the figure just steps back, deeper into the blackness, almost demanding you follow him. Being a game, you have little choice and you press onward, your camera’s night vision mode allowing you to see in the pitch black.
Before long you find yourself before a well. As we all know, a well in a horror situation is something you tend to avoid, but investigate it we must! Cue a huge…tongue…thing. Possibly a tentacle? I’m not too sure. Anyway, it flies out and drags you into a vent, which collapses leaving you in a modern looking Catholic school. This seems extremely out of place, but I’m sure there will be more detail on this come the full release. You pass through the school, seeing some bizarre moments of a screaming child running past, a demon grabbing you and flinging you down the corridor, and a corpse hanging from the ceiling being dragged upwards by a cloud full of hands. Finally, you walk through a locker (yes, through) into a room where you are attacked by the man you saw at the beginning. He flings you down the stairs and the game prompts you to run! Back into the mechanics of the original game then.
You’re chased through a corn field, being hunted by multiple men with torches. The use of light here is very effective here, as it dances off the plants whilst you sneak around. There’s no direction here, it’s simply a case of trying to find a way out without being caught. This culminates with a chase around some shacks before sliding down a slope to be confronted by a woman wielding an enormous axe. An axe which comes down solidly onto you. Onto your crotch specifically. You get rather a graphic view of the results, before the axe swings into you one more time, cutting the demo to black.
Some thoughts on the demo. It gave me a good idea of what to expect from the game beyond the mechanics (which are mostly the same of the previous entry in the series). The environments look really good and are far more open than before, allowing for enemies to sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention. The lack of direction when being looked for is a double edged sword. At first it’s intense as you have no idea where to go whilst being pursued, but before long the effect wore off and I became more irritated that I had to scour the area to find the way I was meant to go. The previous game being mostly made up of corridors made navigation somewhat easier. The school section was most interesting. The demons and mysterious voices heard throughout it made me think this section is in the character’s head, or some alternate reality. I’m curious as to how this ties into the story. On the whole, I’m curious about Outlast 2 as a result of this, I do hope that there are more mechanics to the game than are present in the demo. Otherwise it could be a case of more of the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I feel that it could become rather dull rather quickly if there isn’t more to it.
Outlast 2 is being developed and published by Red Barrels. I played the demo on Xbox One and would recommend you give it a try if you enjoyed the original. If you didn’t then this is very unlikely to sway you!