I very much expected to enjoy Outlast II because I enjoyed the first one, but was truly blown away at just how rich of a setting the sequel is set in. Heavily influenced by: Children of the Corn (or reverse Children of the Corn as I said because here we have the adults killing off all the children instead of the other way around), The Wicker Man, Lord of Illusions, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and even real-world influences like the Peoples Temple (Jonestown) cult. What all of that basically amounts to, is likely the most striking and terrifying setting for any horror game to date.
While Outlast II‘s setting, atmosphere, tone, graphics, and sound are top-notch, where the game really shines is its signature special: foot chases. What Driver did for car chases, Outlast has done for foot chases. Since flight is your only option in fight or flight situations (because the game has no combat system and you carry no weapons), it definitely pushes the adrenaline limits of what video games are capable of inducing.
Special Note: As is true with most modern games, make sure to pick one of the harder difficulty levels to make sure you’re getting the most aggressive and intelligent AI, and therefore, the most challenging and rewarding gameplay. I played on “Nightmare,” which was the highest practical difficulty level because the next and highest difficulty level after that involved having no save points whatsoever. I enjoy being challenged, but I’m not a glutton for punishment.
At the “Nightmare” difficulty level, especially if you have surround sound, you’ll experience the terror of, for example, a machete-wielding maniac just a second behind you, swinging his machete, where you can hear the swoosh of the blade just miss your head. Outside of trying to survive a real-life killer, in the medium of movies, games, books, etc., that’s just about as scary as it can get. That said, I hope developers like Red Barrels keep pushing the limit on how far storytelling mediums can inflict realism, emotion, and fear on us.
Another thing that I really enjoyed about the game were these moments where you seamlessly slipped into an alternate dimension or memory of your childhood in an elementary school. This served as some very interesting subtext, but also offered a breather after some particularly terrifying chase sections, except for when the devs decided to start tormenting us in this safezone too.
In addition to many of the influences I listed above, there were also, at least in my mind, some other direct horror movie homages. Some were pretty overt and some were more subtle, and all could have totally been imagined by myself, but here are the ones that I think I caught:
- A Nightmare on Elm Street
- Friday the 13th
- It Follows
- Mad Max
I won’t spoil anything by mentioning exactly what events occurred, which I believed to be homages, but drop back by and let me know if you spotted them after playing through the game.
And as is starting to become a bit of a signature of my video game posts, check out some of the weird snaps I took along my way through the game, where I genuinely appreciate the wonderful textures and macabre scenes and tableaus.
Gallery possibly contains spoilers…
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