|Writer(s)||J. T. Petty|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
Outlast 2 (stylized as OU⸸LASTII) is a first-person psychological horror survival video game developed and published by Red Barrels. It is the sequel to the 2013 video game Outlast, and features a journalist named Blake Langermann, along with his wife Lynn, roaming the Arizona desert to explore the murder of a pregnant woman only known as Jane Doe. Blake and Lynn get separated in a helicopter crash, and Blake has to find his wife while traveling through a village inhabited by a deranged sect that believes the end of days are upon them.
Shortly after the release and popularity of Outlast, Red Barrels announced the sequel. A gameplay demo was then released at both PAX East and E3 2016 on April 22 and June 15 respectively, with a release originally slated for Autumn 2016. Due to development delays, the game was ultimately released on April 25, 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The Nintendo Switch version released on March 27, 2018 on the Nintendo eShop.
The game was met with generally favorable reception upon release, with praise going towards the graphics, sound design, and atmosphere. Criticisms were reserved for the gameplay design and perceived difficulty.
Outlast 2 is a first-person survival horror game that, like its predecessors Outlast and Outlast: Whistleblower, is a single-player campaign. It is set in Northern Arizona. The game continues the found footage characteristics from the first game. The player controls the investigative journalist Blake Langermann, who investigates a dilapidated rural area in Supai, near the western edge of the Colorado Plateau.
Langermann cannot fight except in scripted scenes, but must run and hide from the numerous hostile members of Temple Gate. The player can crouch, run, jump, walk, vault, slide and climb much like the first game and can hide in lockers, barrels, wardrobes, beds, pools of water, tall grass, cornfields, and inside of houses. He has a limited stamina meter and the player must manage how long he runs, lest he becomes exhausted and move more slowly.
Langermann possesses only a camcorder, which has night vision capabilities, though the camcorder's batteries are also drained when night vision is used. Compared to the first game, Langermann's status as a cameraman means he carries a more advanced camera, one with clearer footage, zoom, and a sensitive microphone that can be used to detect distant footsteps and other noises. The player is equipped with an inventory system displaying the amount of footage recorded on the camera and the items they are carrying. Spare batteries suitable for the camcorder and medkits to heal are spread throughout the game.
Blake Langermann, an investigative journalist and cameraman working alongside his wife, Lynn, crash-lands in the Supai region of the Coconino County region of Arizona, while following the mysterious murder of a young, pregnant woman known only as Jane Doe. When he wakes up after the crash, Blake finds the pilot of their helicopter skinned and crucified, and his wife missing. Blake makes his way to a nearby town, Temple Gate, where he learns that the town has sacrificed all their children in the name of God. Blake eventually locates Lynn in a chapel, captured by a violent and delirious cult led by "Papa" Sullivan Knoth. Knoth claims that Temple Gate lies on the mouth of Hell, and that Lynn is pregnant with the Anti-Christ. They escape the chapel, but Lynn falters, suffering from stomach cramps. The couple is separated when Lynn is kidnapped by the Heretics, an animalistic rival cult who wish to hasten the end of days, and their androgynous leader Val.
Blake is rescued by a man named Ethan who has left Knoth's cult. He tells Blake that Knoth rapes the women of Temple Gate and, once they are pregnant, orders them executed on suspicion of carrying the Anti-Christ. Fearing this fate for his daughter Anna Lee, Ethan convinced her to flee, and she became the Jane Doe that Blake and Lynn were investigating. As Blake rests under Ethan's house, Marta, an imposing woman wielding a large pickaxe and who is one of Knoth's executioners, breaks into Ethan's home and kills him. Blake flees to another chapel, where he learns from a tortured Heretic being interrogated by Knoth that Lynn is imprisoned in the mines under Temple Gate.
Throughout his journey, Blake suffers from progressively more disturbing hallucinations based on his childhood, all while pursued by a grotesque monster. The hallucinations gradually reveal the events surrounding the death of Blake and Lynn's childhood friend, Jessica Gray, at their Catholic elementary school. Blake and Jessica, while staying late at their school, were caught by one of their teachers, Father Loutermilch, who is implied to have been molesting Jessica. Loutermilch sent Blake away, but as Blake was about to leave the school, he heard Jessica's screams and saw her being chased. Blake discovered her to have fallen down a staircase, breaking her neck, with Loutermilch at the top of the stairs. Loutermilch covered up her death as a suicide by hanging and pressured Blake to keep it a secret, and the monster that has been chasing him throughout the school is a perverse, twisted version of how he sees the priest.
Surviving numerous encounters with Marta and the region's other inhabitants, including the syphilis-infected 'Scalled' who were cast out from Temple Gate, Blake finds a document revealing that the Murkoff Corporation is the cause for everyone's insanity due to an experimental mind control station hidden deep in the mountains, with the Heretics being affected far more severely by the waves due to their relative proximity to the station. Arriving at the mines, Blake enters Val's underground temple and finds Lynn, suddenly visibly pregnant. Knoth's cult reach the mines and kill the Heretics, allowing the pair to flee. As dawn breaks, a freak lightning storm begins to destroy the town. Marta reappears and attacks Blake and Lynn, but a cross toppled by lightning from the chapel in the distance impales her. Blake and Lynn hurry to the chapel; Lynn gives birth, but dies soon afterwards. Blake blacks out holding the newborn, implied to be a hallucination by Lynn's last words "there's nothing there" and the baby's lack of a shadow.
Knoth greets Blake as he wakes up. He claims that he had to kill all of his followers, and implores Blake to kill the child before slitting his own throat. As Blake walks outside, he sees that Knoth's followers have committed mass suicide via poisoning in preparation for the apocalypse, while Mozart's Ave verum corpus is playing in the background. The sun grows brighter and Blake is engulfed by the light. He has a final vision of chasing Jessica through the school; when he catches her, she promises that she will never let him go, and they start praying.
After the successful release and development of Outlast, Red Barrels confirmed the development of Outlast 2 on October 23, 2014. It was also reported that the characters and setting would be much different than the first, as players wouldn't return to Mount Massive in the sequel. In an interview with Bloody Disgusting, co-founder Philippe Morin stated that "we really want to keep improving our craft, but ultimately we'll approach things the same way."
On October 28, on both Red Barrels's Facebook and Twitter accounts, a post featured a bulletin board with documents posted saying, "Classified", and the word "Tomorrow" across the picture. The next day, the teaser trailer for the game was released on their YouTube account.
On January 26, 2016, when asked about the possibility of being released simultaneously and pre-order, Red Barrels replied that it might be possible but were not exactly sure. February 5, Morin was interviewed by Indie Games Level Up! about the game, in which he stated that it was largely based on the Jonestown massacre of 1978. On April 4, a video named "Jude 1:14-15" was released by Red Barrels. Unlike other teasers, the video contains a cross of St. Peter across a background of clouds, with an ominous backmasked audio message. Played in reverse, the message reads:
"Children, you lovers of God and registration defenders of His paradise—all our years of suffering come together now on this glorious day of peace... Peace! Even in the corrupt and filthy tongue of the Romans, in the Puritan city... On the fourth month and the twenty-second day of the sixteenth year of the third millennium, our reckoning begins. The spider-eyed lamb waits at the harlot's brace, hungry for this world! Ready your knives, for the good earth thirsts for blood, and we, like the angels, must show no mercy. God loves you."
On April 23, the game demo was showcased and released at PAX East 2016 and E3 2016 on June 15. On August 26, Samuel Laflamme, the original composer for Outlast, officially announced his return to compose the game's soundtrack, as well as the upcoming possibility of another teaser.
Unlike the previous game, Outlast 2 does not feature any downloadable content. The developer stated, "while the first Outlast was made with the idea of a DLC in mind, that was not the case for Outlast 2. We’ve considered many options, but none of them felt appropriate for a DLC. Outlast 2 was created to make you feel like a rat in a maze, without any knowledge of what’s outside the maze."
The game soundtrack, composed by Samuel Laflamme, was released on April 25, 2017. The album contains 14 original tracks composed by Laflamme, as well as an excerpt from Ave verum corpus composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on track 14 "you Never let me go". Contrasting to the original game, Outlast's soundtrack, which focuses on orchestral arrangements, Laflamme focused on utilizing instruments such as guitars, bass guitars, percussion, and instruments he and his team made himself. Laflamme then modulates and tweaks these sounds through a process called Modular Filtering.
In order to achieve the desired sounds for the game without the use of an orchestra, Laflamme created an instrument consisting of a metal string attached to a piece of wood. He then used this instrument throughout the score as the instrument "really fit with the overall score". The soundtrack is available on all streaming platforms, and was released in the 1st quarter of 2019 as a Double LP Vinyl Set featuring the music of the first and second game, respectively on two Glow in the Dark and Black Splatter vinyl pressings. Each capital letter of the track-listing spells the word "Redemption", with the album consisting of 14 tracks in total.
The game was made available digitally on April 25, 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Alongside the digital launch, Outlast Trinity, a physical collection of the Outlast series was also released. The game was originally slated for Fall 2016 release as stated on the teaser trailer, however, on August 1, the company announced that the game's release would be postponed until Q1 2017.
About a month prior to release, the Australian Classification Board refused to grant Outlast 2 an "R18+" rating, the most extreme it can grant video games, citing that the game depicts "sexual violence"; without a rating, the game cannot be sold in Australian stores. Ultimately, after a few days, the board reversed its decision without any modifications to the game and rated the game as "R18+", eventually permitting it to be sold.
Due to feedback from players and critics alike, Red Barrels released an update in March 2018 with a new difficulty mode called "Story Mode." The difficulty mode decreases the number of enemies as well as their speed, damage and perception. Players can still die in the game but "Story Mode" allows them to have more time to explore the environments and be immersed in the story. The update additionally reinstated some content that was initially removed to get an M rating as opposed to an Adults Only rating.
Destructoid's Nic Rowen scored the game an 8/10 with the consensus "Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth most people's time and cash."
James Kozanitis from Game Revolution gave the game a score of 4.5 out of 5 stars saying that "A good horror game should make you dread the idea of playing it, but keep you glued to the screen while you actually are. Outlast 2 is that game. While more involved fans might be disappointed as to how the story resolves, I found it hit the sweet spot between overly expository and frustratingly vague. Segments from Outlast 2 are forever burned into my memories, acting as much as a traumatic experience as it was an exhilarating one. The thematic elements present throughout make the game even more high-stakes, taking a toll on you as a moral human being. God doesn't love Outlast 2 – not like I do."
Louise Blain of GamesRadar+ awarded it 2.5 out of 5 stars stating that, "Horrific in completely the wrong way, Outlast 2 is a night-vision journey into frustration. An intriguing story just can't save the infuriating misery that awaits."
"Stealth and pursuit haven't changed much in Outlast 2, but it excels as a beautiful, brutal journey through extreme spiritual anxieties," was James Davenport's conclusion on PC Gamer with a score of 85/100.
7.5/10 was Philip Kollar's score on Polygon with the consensus: "Outlast 2 may be the single most qualified recommendation I've given in my history of writing reviews, and not just because of its occasionally stilted design. This is a game that often left me feeling like complete trash. It brought up some of the most difficult memories in my life, issues I had buried long ago. My reactions to that anguish have run the gamut, but more than anything, I respect that Outlast 2 has the singular focus and intensity to dredge up those emotions; that alone made it worth the time spent for me."
Alice Bell's 6/10 score on VideoGamer.com stated that "Outlast 2 has some great design elements, and the night-vision handy-cam mechanic is still scary. But the jump scares and gore don't mix right with the elements of psychological horror, and the story retreads horror tropes that didn't need retreading."
Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of Zero Punctuation ranked the game fourth on his list of the Five Worst Games of 2017, summing the game up by stating that "the greatest indictment of a horror game is not being particularly scary, especially when it compensates instead by trying to put me off my fucking dinner." The game was nominated for "Use of Sound, Franchise" at the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards.
Outlast 3 was announced in December 2017, though no time frame or target platforms were confirmed. During this announcement, Red Barrels said that because they could not easily add downloadable content for Outlast 2 due to its structure, they have a smaller separate project related to Outlast that will release before Outlast 3.
The Outlast Trials is an upcoming horror game that was teased in October 2019 and is not a direct sequel to Outlast 2. It's about test subjects in a mysterious Cold War experiment and set in the same universe of the previous games. Red Barrels co-founder David Chateauneuf said the proof of concept is now complete and the game's team is now in development mode. It is set to be released in 2021.
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