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Review

Outlast 2 Review

  • First Released Apr 24, 2017
    released
  • Reviewed Apr 24, 2017
  • PC

Kingdom come.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Outlast 2's maniacal commitment to its core conceit is simultaneously its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. Like the original--which helped popularize first-person survival horror when it launched in 2013--Outlast 2 casts you as a hapless everyman with zero fighting skills and no tools beyond a camcorder. Your only option when confronted with grotesque, bloodthirsty murderers is to run and hide.

As a result, every snapping twig, every distant scream, every gruesome corpse grips you with fear even more tightly than it might if you actually had a way to defend yourself. But this also means the core gameplay cannot evolve as you progress--the chase sequences you survive at the start of the game are essentially identical to the situations you encounter near the end. There aren't many new mechanics or scenarios to keep the intervening hours feeling varied and engaging.

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To make matters worse, the game's most harrowing moments--those sequences where you're spotted by an enemy and must flee to safety--frequently devolve into trial-and-error tedium. Almost invariably, these chases are scripted, meaning you must get from point A to a specific point B as quickly as possible. Problem is, point B is rarely obvious. It might be a tiny opening you have to crawl through or a bookcase you have to move, but you'll only have a few seconds to figure it out before your pursuers catch up and kill you, forcing you to replay most of the chase in order to return to the apparent dead end where you got stuck. At that point, the game stops being scary and simply becomes frustrating.

This was occasionally an issue in the first game as well, but you often had more freedom and could play more strategically--if you're trying to avoid one bad guy in a large area while sneaking from room to room to collect valve handles, you can decide, "Okay, he'll see me when I dart across here, but I think I can make it back to this locker and hide before he catches me." In Outlast 2, you generally just need to run from whatever's directly behind you and hope you figure out the one correct path as you go. At least when you do stay on track, it's unbelievably intense and exhilarating. The fact that the game excels at delivering sudden bursts of panic keeps your nerves on edge at all times. You never quite know when hell will break loose again, but you always know it's coming.

Not everyone you encounter tries to kill you. It's creepy.
Not everyone you encounter tries to kill you. It's creepy.

Tension, really, is what Outlast 2 does best. Its gameplay may stumble in certain ways, but you're always deeply, inescapably immersed in its atmosphere. In place of the first game's mental asylum, new protagonist Blake Langermann finds himself lost in the Arizona desert surrounded by religious zealots and fetid corpses. Though you'll endure a wide variety of environments, desecration follows you everywhere. And while the visuals pack plenty of unsettling details, the sound design is some of the best in horror game history. From the jagged, unnerving score to the harsh whispers that seem to come from all directions, Outlast 2's audio is the single biggest contributor to its remarkable sense of foreboding. The subtle squish and crunch that accompanies every footstep as you cross a pit full of dead infants will likely haunt you forever.

All of these scare tactics get in your head and, in a way, deepen those skin-crawling lulls between the adrenaline-pumping chases. In most games, walking into a room and grabbing an item is about as simple as it gets, but when you're utterly convinced some new horror's just waiting to rip your throat out, exploring for camera batteries suddenly feels like a harrowing trial. And you'll need those batteries. Just as before, your camera's night vision allows you see in the dark, and the new directional mic also lets you (loosely) track enemies through walls.

However, both of these comforts drain your batteries at an alarming rate, especially on higher difficulty settings. You can keep night vision on even when you run out of juice, but your screen starts to flicker and the camera can't focus. It's almost scarier than being totally blind, so it's important to expend your battery power strategically. I never had a problem finding batteries on Normal, but higher difficulty settings turn this aspect of the experience into a legitimate challenge.

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Even if you're stocked up on batteries, though, there's another reason to brave exploration: journal entries. As with the original game, there's no traditional story arc with a beginning, middle, and end. Instead, you're given a goal--in this case, to save your missing wife--and bad stuff happens as you pursue that goal. The only way to understand your situation is to gather information from, for example, suicide notes and deranged gospel excerpts. The writing is strong throughout, but Outlast 2's primary narrative relies too heavily on trite horror tropes, including sadistic backwoods fanatics, demon babies, and of course, damsels in distress. The ending also falls short of the wild twist that capped the first game.

But there is another side to Outlast 2's story. As you progress, Blake starts to experience hallucinations that seem to depict a traumatic childhood event. They reveal new details at exactly the right pace, providing subtle, devastating hints without spelling everything out. It hooked me early, compelled me through the campaign, and eventually delivered an emotional payoff, all while tying together both halves of the game through shared themes of guilt, abandonment, and the exploitation of faith. Altogether, Blake's hallucinations prove to be one of the game's strongest elements.

In order to unlock certain journal entries, you have to film events as they happen. The timing can be tricky...and frustrating.
In order to unlock certain journal entries, you have to film events as they happen. The timing can be tricky...and frustrating.

In truth, Outlast's "no weapons" formula worked better as a shorter experience. Stretched over twice the length of the original game, Outlast 2's gameplay starts to wear thin, especially since too many of its scripted chases funnel you down preset paths. At the same time, however, I admire its purity, and to an extent, I'm willing to accept its shortcomings for the sake of true survival horror. The campaign is scary from start to finish and delivers on its promise of unrelenting terror in part because it never allows you to fight back. The atmosphere and sound design are expertly crafted, and Blake's hallucinations elevate the game's story above that of the first. It doesn't do much to build on the original formula, but it unquestionably provides a more polished version of the same idea.

Think of it as a ride through a really amazing haunted house: you don't have a ton of control and sometimes the ride breaks down for a moment or two, but it's basically guaranteed to leave you scared out of your mind.

Back To Top
The Good
Deeply unsettling sound design
Tension makes even simple exploration feel challenging
Hallucinations create a compelling side story
Strong production value throughout
The Bad
Tedious trial-and-error chase sequences disrupt flow
Campaign lacks gameplay variety
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

It took Scott nearly a dozen hours to trek though Outlast 2's desert hellscape, though he immediately started over at a higher difficulty once he finished his first run. He also reviewed Resident Evil 7 back in January, if you'd like a reference point for his taste in horror. GameSpot received complimentary download codes for the purposes of this review.
126 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

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JimAbadon

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Seems to me like this game is a bit boring storywise. It's scary as bloody hell, there's no doubt about that, but the whole "murderous cult" setting seems to me even more cliched and uninteresting than the previous one of insane asylum. No doubt Outlast 2 is a good horror game but apparently it failed to surpass its predecessor.

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Palafoxg17

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This game with is jump scares makes it too obvious and what it needs is having to CO-OP. Although, this game is very challenging than the first cuz there are more places to hide. And it also seems like a RE7 game. Since, it is a big map it gets really annoying where to go!!!!

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Smith_james20

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Edited By Smith_james20

Had to throw in "damsel in distress" and make it sound like a negative... why does it even matter who and if anyone's in "distress"? and in this situation it makes sense, no? It made for an amazing story (Imo). It can be considered a cliche up front, absolutely. But it's not the sort of cliche that should take away from a games score (presumably) unlike say constant jump scares, which I thought this game had placed nicely through out. Idk, this really annoyed me.

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Zinoxy

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So far I think this game is amazing. Having alot of fun recording, and the walkthrough. Looking forward to see how this goes. As far as frustration goes.. Me getting frustrated and running in circles in panic is fun to my viewers. So I don't take that as a negative factor, I enjoy it! :D

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Dattwood

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What's the narrative context for the camcorder? Like WHY are you filming everything? The review doesn't say.

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Cherub1000

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Edited By Cherub1000

First few hours in and I'm enjoying every second! Very tense and looks far superior to the first game. Looking forward to a few late rainy nights now, awesome!

EDIT: So after a load more hours a few cracks are sadly starting to show. In all fairness I'd say the GS review has hit the nail on head. The constant chase sequences ending in very frequent trial and error have begun to get very stale. It just feels as though outlast 2 depends solely on these events and it's as big shame. Sure it looks fantastic and the sound design is second to none, I'm stoked that the game is so much longer, though with a very basic scare mechanic, it tends to out stay it's welcome. Don't get me wrong, I'm still enjoying it but unlike the first game, I really don't see much replay potential.

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ibonedyourmom

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too scurry

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off3nc3

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Rubbish Review as usual !

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Skinon

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@off3nc3: Congrats. You must be fun at parties.

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off3nc3

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Edited By off3nc3

@Skinon: Congrats on what ? I own the game and it's nowhere near this low score so what are you even replying to you dumb twat ? LOL go hit up 4chan!

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Cherub1000

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@off3nc3: I don't think 7 is a low score dude, I'm a fan of outlast and I'm having a great time so far, though I can't deny what the reviews says about all the chase sequences, it is getting a bit repetitive, on several occasions I've found the correct path right off the bat and the afformentioned chase is really tense and once I've escaped I realised I've almost chewed my nails down to the bone! That being said the amount of times I've had to continually reload the game simply because I've made a slight error really goes along way to destroying the immersion. I mean, let me run off and hide so the enemies cool off a bit but error is punished with instant death almost every time. It's just a shame that's all, the atmosphere in outlast 1 was truly terrifying and it really got under my skin, outlast 2 isn't far behind at all but after a constant slog of load screens it removes all sense of panic and fear. I've found myself just trying to get from one chase to the next as fast as possible in the hope of captivating that same sense of dread. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

I'm still really enjoying it and the massive ramp up in appearance and sound is fantastic. Let's hope that red barrels next title can keep tweaking things and go from strength to strength.

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off3nc3

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@cherub1000: It's a solid 8/10 atleast , you are right on many accounts but STILL this game is by far one of the most hardcore survival horror's ever made , there is no denying in that !

Agreed also in regards of Red Barrels next title , so far for me this was a crazy ride and I played / seen pretty much everything horror fanfiction out there :)

All in all it's a great sequel and glad you enjoyed it!

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Skinon

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@off3nc3: Awww poor baby.. Not my fault you lack taste.

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off3nc3

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Edited By off3nc3

@Skinon: HAHAH Kid didn't I tell you to hit up 4chan ? This game is for adults and im pretty sure your life is alot more Horror then this game based on your low IQ replies. /cockslap

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Skinon

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@off3nc3: Ahh... I see I must of struck a sore spot... It's ok, one day when you move out of your grandmother's basment you might get invited to a real life party too!

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off3nc3

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@Skinon: Late reply kid , I own a house i don't need to live in the basement i've got more rooms then you got IQ points :) You gotta try harder kid you still sound like a 14 year old virgin who failed his math tests ! haHHa

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Skinon

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Edited By Skinon

@off3nc3: Aww you're such a good girl!

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off3nc3

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@Skinon: Autism becomes you !

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Ape_Escape_1Fan

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@Skinon: oooo GOT EM with the grandmother's basement line bro!

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Shunten

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Godspeed, Scott.

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Itzsfo0

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I love these "so its so and so ..no thanks ill stick to" comments

(very annoying) if you read this review, and/or already have made a decision, ever stop to think that nobody cares if you are not interested and you will stick to so and so ? cool go stick to so and so...nobody cares lol

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WarFox89

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Edited By WarFox89

So basically it's a First-Person Horror movie. 30$ for a movie ticket ? Nah I'll pass ...

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RogerioFM

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Edited By RogerioFM

It's a pity that it's more scripted, what I liked in the previous games is that you had to explore and play hide and seek at the same time, it's a shame that after the first games and other games like Alien Isolation, they feel the need to rely on linearity.

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verysalt

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It's gore, not horror. Watching the game I feel disgusted not scared.

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Foxhound71

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I thought the first one was so good till about the half-way point. Then it stopped being scary, became more annoying, and felt like a chore just to finish it.

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scottyp360

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@Foxhound71: mostly agree. I played the game in intervals, half hour here, an hour there, so it didnt become a chore until about the end but after beating it I couldn't see myself returning to the game Unless I was showing a friend to scare the pants off them.

I played the demo for 2 and while there were a couple of scary and cool moments it did nothing to get me excited for the full game. Part of the reason the first game worked was because it was a short experience. I can't see myself playing all of 2 without getting bor3d early on.

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Arumat33

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So this guy is an everyday man huh. No thanks I'll stick to RE7's everyday man that is actually smart enough to fight back. Hopefully this game will bomb so developers will realize majority of people want a horror game where you can fight back not just run run run.

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scottyp360

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@arumat33: it doesnt even need to be heavy combat either. I'm not looking to have a weapon and gun beginning to end. I don't need to have an arsenal of weapons. I don't even care if I can't actually kill enemies and instead only slow them down (similar to baker in RE7). I just want the game to be practical. If people are chasing and trying to kill me at some point in going to attempt to defend myself. Swing my fist, cover up and block attacks, grab any object I can get my hands on to defend myself, etc.

It just doesn't make sense to me that someone in this situation would be more concerned with running and capturing footage on their camera than defending themself

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BDRTFM

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Was hoping for a better score but, what can you do? I really enjoyed what I played of the first game right up until I got the save glitch and all my game saves disappeared. I didn't feel like doing the whole thing over again or downloading a game save so, never did finish it. But what I did play was creepy as hell so, maybe I'll give this one a try since it sounds like it's as creepy as the first despite the tedious chase sequences.

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aeroldoes

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Nice review. Gonna miss you Scott!

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Warlord_Irochi

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Will be getting this. Although I didn't like how the first relied too much in jump-scares. They already managed to create a great atmosphere... the game could have done it with half of them.

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Cherub1000

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Well the review sounds fair, I really enjoyed the original and dlc. I'll for sure be checking this out!

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tinoush

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Man I finished the first one just without having a heart attack. Not sure if i can go trough all that again.

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Gaming-Planet

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For $30, don't expect an AAA experience.

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scottyp360

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@Gaming-Planet: didn't realize this was only $30. Seems like a reasonable price for this type of game.

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xbox360kb

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Edited By xbox360kb

@Gaming-Planet: Nonsense, last instalment of call of duty has 3.1 score on metacritic... and its a 60usd game. Price have an impact on quality but its not the only factor.

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scottyp360

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@xbox360kb: that's not a fair assessment of Infinite Warfare. When you look at the package as a whole you are getting a lot for $60. A campaign, Solid online experience, a 4 player co-op mode, and polished gameplay.

If you look at the game on it's own, instead of looking at the series as a whole, it's a quality game. What hurts the COD games is the same thing that makes it so popular, it's a long running, yearly released title.

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TiringPillow

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@xbox360kb: Lmao you can't look at metacritic user scores as a trustworthy source.

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Pelezinho777

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@Gaming-Planet: You can't expect that with some 60 buck titles, either.

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MAXAM999

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@Pelezinho777: Exactly .. RE7 felt like 15$ experience to me

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scottyp360

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@MAXAM999: ehh too each their own. I would have liked the game to be a little bit longer and have more replay value, or even more modes (without having to purchase dlc), but I enjoyed my playthrough of RE7 for the most part.

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GamerOuTLaWzz

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@MAXAM999: when youre a clueless tool who plays his games on easy.

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Gomtor

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One word: boring.

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Stelios

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I found the first Outlast completely boring, uninspired, on rails and cliché ridden. Definite pass

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Isamu_36

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I could never finish Hunting Ground because I got tired of being caught by giant Cuasimodo.

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Zombie8814

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Still no weapons, and twice as long as the first. I'll definitely pass on this one. Wouldn't even play for free.

Outlast 2 More Info

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  • First Released Apr 24, 2017
    released
    • Macintosh
    • Nintendo Switch
    • + 3 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Outlast 2 is the sequel to the acclaimed survival horror game Outlast. Set in the same universe as the first game, but with different characters and a different setting, Outlast 2 is a twisted new journey into the depths of the human mind and its dark secrets. No conflict is ever black and white.
    6.4
    Average Rating66 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Outlast 2
    Developed by:
    Red Barrels
    Published by:
    Red Barrels, Limited Run Games
    Genre(s):
    3D, Action, Adventure, Survival
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language