The original Outlast was a terrifying game of hide and seek set in an asylum filled with murderous mental patients and victims of an inhumane science experience. Though the game had a number of flaws, there’s no denying that it worked well as a horror game, shamelessly stacking jump scares on top of revolting displays of violence. If you’re a fan of that kind of experience, well, good news, Outlast II looks to offer the same sorts of disturbing thrills while upping the ante.
I recently played a 20 minute demo of Outlast II at a showcase of Xbox One games during E3. Unfortunately, it was in a bright environment surrounded by countless people.
I still screamed.
The demo opens with you exploring a mysterious rural area on the side of some mountains. After finding your glasses, which you’re pretty blind without, you start to search for your partner, who’s gone missing. Like the first Outlast, you’re armed with only your wits and a night vision camera that serves as what’s often your sole source of light as you fumble around in the darkness. Outlast II takes place not in an asylum but instead in a countryside roamed by murderous redneck psychopaths hunting you with scythes and axes. As you progress further into the game, you have to collect batteries to keep your camera going.
The first half of the demo is comprised of me searching for my friend in a small hamlet. Peeking out into the woods, I can see the locals watching me while brandishing weapons and mumbling incoherent phrases. I proceed further into the village, finding corpses of residents and experiencing horrifying hallucinations, including one that sends me into a high school hallway inhabited by a floating specter lady who was fond of slamming lockers and throwing me into walls. (This is the part where I screamed, by the by).
In the last section of the demo, I traverse a pit filled with dead babies that may or may not have been my protagonist’s mind playing tricks on him and then finally met the welcoming committee. He is a man with a scarred face and gnarled arms who cursed at me as he throws me down a set of stairs. Soon I am running through cornfields, ducking beneath my pursuers’ line of sight as they fanned out in search of me. With a little bit of finesse and luck, I make it to the farm’s exit only to run headfirst into a hideous, slender woman armed with a huge pickaxe. She swings the axe down into my character’s crotch, castrating him, and then, while the camera remains fixed on the bloody, detailed aftermath, she raises the axe up into his face, apparently killing him and ending my demo.
As a fan of the original game, I came away from my brief time with Outlast II impressed. The new setting, while soaked in backwoods horror clichés, is engaging and both the jump scares and creeping atmospheric horror were enough to keep me on the edge of my seat even though I was playing in an environment hardly ideal for the experience. Outlast II is slated to be released in Fall 2016 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.