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Feature Article

Outlast 2 is Terrifying

Outlast 2's opening moments are just as dark, atmospheric, and haunting as its predecessor, the 2013 breakout horror title.

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A suffocating darkness has descended on a remote desert town, and in Outlast II, you plunge right into it--through quiet houses, dim cellars, and sprawling cornfields. Something sinister is hiding in all that black.

After the first Outlast's release in 2013, developer Red Barrels proved it could use atmosphere to its advantage, eliciting fear in the cells of the game's abandoned asylum. Judging by a recent demo, Outlast 2 seems to be earning its jump scares as well. They don't seem forced, but rather capitalize on a rising well of dread.

As one of two investigative journalists who stumble into the town in the American Southwest, you're equipped with only a video camera. Much like in the first Outlast, this mechanic means you'll have to scavenge for batteries in toolboxes and kitchen drawers. This hoarding mentality seems even more necessary in Outlast 2: several times during the demo, my screen went completely back without the green tint of the camera's night vision effect. The ever-decreasing battery life adds a palpable tension to the already grim proceedings.

What's more, the camera's zoom function highlights things I might not want to see. A ghostly villager with a butcher knife, for instance, is a brief flash in the distance before he steps back into the darkness. I turn my camera off before I can see more. Ignorance helps.

Aside from the camera, there's not much to Outlast 2's gameplay. If the demo is any indication, the game's mechanics function only to foster fear. At the press of a button, you can glance back over your shoulder, the better to glimpse whatever might be chasing you. There's a sense of sadism involved: it might be tempting to see your pursuers, but it won't mitigate the panic that's setting in.

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The first Outlast took a somewhat open approach to exploration in its decaying asylum. Rooms were closed off at first, but by backtracking throughout the main floor, basement, and medical wing, the building opened up. In Outlast 2's opening moments, however, things are decidedly linear: the village gives way to a corpse-littered cellar, which leads to a haunted schoolhouse, which funnels you into the house of bloody killer with a maniacal laugh. Then the chase begins, and you sprint into a cornfield on the outskirts of town.

My demo lasted only 15 minutes, and I'm reluctant to spoil any of the disturbing moments and sudden jumps I found in that darkening desert town. But if it's any indication of the final game, it's clear Outlast 2 is working to earn its scares. It has an atmosphere that inspires paranoia. It has that creeping sense of dread that put the series on the map back in 2013. Red Barrels is aiming for a fall 2016 release date, and come that time, I'm curious--and hesitant--to see what's on the other side of that cornfield.

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41 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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MAXAM999

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............. why do people find these Outlast games scary is something confuses the hell out of me ... i mean for crying out loud if a game put too much focus on gore and use cheap jump scares that doesn't make it a "terrifying" experience .. GORE /=/ SCARY .. modern gamers has a weird logic when it comes to horror

this is coming from someone who has a lot of experience with horror games since 1997

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klipsch27

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I'm not much on the vR thing rite now, but this game would rock on vR.

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Maj_Wood

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why do I sense a HOH special coming?

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HerveS1994

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My body is ready for this fantastic horror game sequel

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j_alexis

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Edited By j_alexis

My body is ready to play it on a VR system. Yay

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Dr_Josh

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Edited By Dr_Josh

Kinda glad there seems to be a supernatural element this time.

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Cherub1000

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Edited By Cherub1000

Can't wait! Thought the first one was an unsung masterpiece! Loved every haunting moment and jumped out of my chair more times than I can count! Really looking forward to this, anyone on the fence about it, check out the first one, one of the most tense, nail biting games I've played in and very long time!

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Bakula

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Surprised no one's protesting the upside down cross in the title. Would have thought it would violate many peoples' precious safe space.

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Super_dead90

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@bakula: imagine if it was an insult to the islam religion, boy would those people go on a rampage compared to the christians

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Dr_Josh

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Edited By Dr_Josh

@bakula: The people taking issue with an upside down cross in a game would most likely be conservative Christians. Not exactly the pro safe space crowd.

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hystavito

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Edited By hystavito

@bakula: Why? It's totally socially acceptable to mess with anything to do with Christian religions :).

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Shadowchronicle

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I couldn't even get through the first one.

lol

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StonerDemon

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Finally, Satanic themes in a horror game!!! Seriously, the genre needs more Satan and less Hollywood to get in shape again.

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hystavito

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@StonerDemon: More Satan! :)

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NTM23

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I really enjoyed the first game, and really like the DLC for it, which is both a prequel and sequel of sorts. I didn't find the game to be terrifying. It was intense, mainly when enemies chased you.

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Jimbowesker

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hell-yeah-sounds-great-so-the-original-Outlast-is-worth-a-shot?

I-almost-purchased-it-few-years-back-never-got-around-to-it.

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jack00

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Edited By jack00

How many dead babies does it takes to please satan ? :)

First one was ok, lots of cheap scares like that crow coming out of nowhere when he opened the window. I prefer when the game relies on atmosphere to scare you, like amnesia. Games like that are unfortunatly too rare :/

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GoodGamesGuy

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@jack00: have you played Soma?

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jack00

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@goodgamesguy: Still waiting to see it at a good price on steam :)

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deactivated-5c0b07b32bf03

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If you really just let go, turn off the lights, play late at night by yourself, and try to believe that you're really there, that first Outlast can be truly terrifying. Looking forward to the sequel.

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deactivated-5c60a3d1c2911

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Loved the first outlast. It was really creepy.

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senorbusyman

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im so looking forward to this

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youre_a_sheep

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With an outdoor setting I wish they had given some other lighting convention instead of the camera. Flares would be a good choice and could add the element of having to worry about being more visible whenever you choose to use them. Still looks scary as hell though.

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hystavito

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@youre_a_sheep: Most of the time the camera seemed pointless anyway, why do you need to clearly see the detail on the corn stalks right in front of you?

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DarthRevenX

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Outlast is anything but terrifying.....just a bunch of jump scares is all it is, hardly scary.....typical of walking simulator horror games.....

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se7en1989

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@darthrevenx: Looks like we gotta hard @ss on our hands

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youre_a_sheep

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@darthrevenx: Did you even play it? Being chased and having to run and hide is not a "jump scare", and that was the bulk of the game.

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DarthRevenX

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@youre_a_sheep: it's still not scary.......ooh I'm being chased.....the only motivation to run is meh, I really don't wanna get killed and start over.....horror games aren't scary, I laugh at those who find em scary.....IDK, maybe it's cus I was scared to death by some horror movie when I was a kid and now I'm immune to it but no movie or game scares me.....

there's creepy atmosphere but that's different, Silent Hill was one that actually kinda got me.....more cus it was cerebral and not physical.....

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Super_dead90

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@darthrevenx: i 100% agree with you, since i feel the same way i got outlast and ive yet to continue it due to the boredom it provided

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Tony56723

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@darthrevenx: What's not scary to one person can be completely terrifying to the next. Man it's like...people are different. Woah I just blew my own mind with that one

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RogerioFM

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Edited By RogerioFM

@darthrevenx: I think it was pretty tense as was Alien Isolation. Is it really scary? No, I don't think any game ever gave me nightmares and whatnot, but it was a well made game. Yes, it's not as cerebral as Silent Hill 2, but I don't think any horror game ever did that again.

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Alucard_Prime

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Good to hear, the first game terrified me so I ain't surprised.

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gotrekfabian

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This is looking great. I'm glad to see that Red Barrel aren't just trying to emulate everyone else's ideas on how a horror game should be and taking the their own direction. I'm keen to hear how the jump scares are compared to the last game though, Outlast wouldn't be Outlast without some genuine scares.

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HermitKiller

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Yesssss!!!

I have both Amnesia games, Penumbra collection and now this!!

I just love horror games.

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MAXAM999

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@hermitkiller: And none of the games you list are scary to be honest with you

You should dig further on the horror genre .. since THIS IS NOT HORROR !

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thanatopsis70

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@hermitkiller:
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apr181

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I remember screaming during the first one!

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RogerioFM

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Is that a continuation to the previous game's story or a new plot?

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uncha1n3d

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Edited By uncha1n3d

Looking forward to hearing more details on this. Outlast 1 was easily one of my favorite horror games of all time. Im wondering if this is going to be a full fledged 60 dollar release or if they are going for the same level of scope as the fist one. Either way im excited

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BobaFettHatesU

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Edited By BobaFettHatesU

Outlast was one of the best free PS+ games ever. If it weren't free at launch I may have never played it. Looking forward to the next one. Would certainly be a contender for a terrifying VR experience.

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GoodGamesGuy

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@bobafetthatesu: No that title goes to Rocket Leauge, but yeah Outlast was good too haha.