Outlast 2 - PS4 Review

The original Outlast was effective for a variety of reasons, from its excellent use of lighting and sound design to a genuinely creepy setting and story. The sequel title tries to ramp things up by making the story even more twisted, and the overall experience is still a solid one, if it has not really evolved much from its predecessor.

When I played the original game, I praised its willingness to take chances and mess with your mind as much as threaten the body. There was a great deal of tension built up around what amounted to a killer game of hide and seek. Outlast 2 relies on a lot of the same basic mechanics, but makes the pacing faster and as a result, a little bit more frustrating as well.

Similar to the first game, you are thrust into the role of a journalist. Right off of the bat, there are some pretty strong similarities in the characters, though effort is taken in the initial scenes to try and give your character a bit more control and context over what is happening and why than the first game. This allows the player to leverage the primary mechanic that makes the Outlast games so creepy - you are often in the dark where the naked human eye can see almost nothing. Perhaps a hint of movement in the inky shadows, but by and large the blacks and grays are too much for your eyes to properly penetrate. Enter your trusty camera with its hued night vision that allows you to see the horrors around you.

And horrors you will find. There is a warning at the start of the game, and it is an apt one. Outlast 2 goes for a lot of shock value with its loud sounds, use of language, depictions of torture and more. The first title was an unsettling one that pulled very few punches, and Outlast 2 follows the same basic path - now with better graphics! The end result is an even more intense experience.

The story is going to rub some people the wrong way. There's some redneck meets warmed religious faith tones that serve as the primary motivation for the antagonists. Upside down crosses, scattered scraps of documents referring to the gospel of a deranged man whose word is almost treated like the word of God. This ties into our character's backstory later in the game, with callbacks to a Catholic school upbringing (which was my own elementary through high school upbringing). As such, there were a lot of references that will no doubt ruffle features, but feel entrenched in reality just enough to be plausible and unsettling. I personally took it as less of an attack on a particular faith than a look at how religion - any religion - can go wrong and become corrupted, especially when people often put their faith so blindly into it without perhaps asking the right questions about it and themselves along the way.

Moving beyond the story, we have the game's presentation and gameplay mechanics. In terms of the visuals and audio, Outlast was really good, and its sequel is even better. The audio design in particular is spectacular. You spend a lot of time crouching and moving around the environment slowly, your line of sight obstructed or completely lacking if it is also pitch black in the room. Therefore, audio cues like nearby breathing or shuffled walking are the only indicators you get of the nearby danger. Where the audio mix is a bit less spectacular is in how it mixes audio levels. The music is meant to help create tension, and it does so very well, but at times this is at the expense of dialog which can be difficult to hear.

In terms of the actual gameplay, everything in Outlast 2 feels just a bit smoother, and a bit faster. This can be a bit of a plus and a minus, as the killer game of hide and seek found in the first game is somewhat lacking here. There are still lots of stealth elements, and they work well - but there were times where the AI reacted so aggressively that I did not even bother trying to run away. They can and will hunt you down like a pack of rabid dogs that have picked up on your scent. The developers are aware and attempted to patch with the recent update. This certainly helped, as the AI seemed to lose their nearly sixth sense like ability to locate me, especially in specific moments that were almost maddening at times, but make no mistake - this is still a challenging game. I would venture to say it is harder than the first by a good amount.

Outlast 2 has a great deal in common with the original title. It has similar aesthetics, a similar protagonist who uses a very similar gameplay mechanic to help navigate the darkness. All of these similarities help to make this a familiar experience that probably could have used a bit more evolution to make the gameplay more interesting. The biggest changes come in the setting and storyline and the slight uptick in gameplay pacing, which has both good and negative aspects. In the end, I enjoyed my time with Outlast 2, just as I had the first game, but see room for innovation and improvement in future releases as well.

Game Information

PlayStation 4
Red Barrels
Red Barrels
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
Xbox One

Provided by Publisher

Article by Nick