04th Apr2018

‘Outlast 2′ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

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I played the original Outlast game on PC a few years ago and whilst I was a fan of the atmosphere and indeed of the game in general, I felt that it relied too heavily on jump scares. I also felt that although the claustrophobic setting added to the creepiness, it also detracted from game play as I felt like I spent too much time hiding in dark corners, waiting for an enemy to ‘go away’. Soon after playing Outlast I played Alien Isolation and was so worn down (and bored) of dozens of  hours spent running and hiding that I felt the novelty of the budding ‘hiding in cupboards genre’ (made famous by Capcom’s Haunting Ground on the PS2) was already wearing thin. I was pleasantly surprised that Outlast 2 addresses the issues that I had with original game, improving on them whilst also being a solid showcase for the ability of the Nintendo Switch when it comes to ‘real-life’ graphics.

The story of Outlast 2 sees you cast as Blake Langermann, the cameraman and husband of investigative journalist Lynn Langermann. Arriving in Arizona to look into the mysterious murder of a young, unknown woman, your helicopter crashes (or was it brought down?) in a mountainous region, knocking Blake out. When he awakes, the pilot has been skinned alive and crucified whilst Lynn is nowhere to be seen…

The main thrust of the story is in Blake trying to find his wife whilst avoiding the warring factions of Father Knoth’s cult and the ‘Heretics’ that roam the towns, mines and cornfields of Temple gate. As in the original, your character is essentially totally defenceless and you have to sneak your way around areas populated by enemies, sprinting to safety when required. As a cameraman, Blake has a high-quality handheld that can be used to film certain scenes that you come across but will mostly be utilised for its night-vision. GET THOSE BATTERIES! I can promise you that wandering Temple Gate in total darkness is a recipe for disaster in many ways.
I was pleased to note that there were several difficulty settings which catered for different levels of skill. The gameplay isn’t altered too much from the original but everything seems smoother and more streamlined. Controls are responsive and as I made my way through the different locations, the game does give you a sense of scale, like you have really made progress through a lifelike section of the world as opposed to just ‘levels’ linked together. The enemies are suitably terrifying, ranging from insane hillbillies rambling dark gospels as they hunt for you with torches and knives to slow-moving cackling executioners sporting pick-axes and some boss characters that… well… quite frankly are just best avoided, for Blake’s sake.

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I found myself despairing for Blake as I guided him through the game. His journey and visions (or are they?) getting darker and more twisted, his psyche as ravaged as the town around him. The music is a real highpoint of the game, audio cues subtly guiding you and warning you of danger with an aching, skeletal score giving way to pregnant silences that can sometimes be unbearably tense. Whilst the Switch isn’t as powerful as a high-end PC, it’s only noticeable in the fading-in of more incidental parts of the game such as stones or grass, and the game runs at a solid 60 fps throughout, which is great to see. Those wince-inducing, gory executions have never looked so good.

I did have some issues with Outlast 2. Some areas do require trial an error ,as you are scripted to be seen and have to run around areas that are quite easy to get lost in, resulting in some cheap deaths and sometimes sections can feel oddly empty when compared to other, busier, areas of the map. On the whole it’s a very solid 7/8 hours or so of tense gameplay. Collectible items are scattered around for the completionists among us and the story keeps moving along at a good pace, genuinely making you feel like you have been thrust into the darkest aspects of humanity, desperate to escape to raising hysteria around you.

Outlast 2 is pretty much a must for the Switch-owning horror fans. If you liked the original, this is a much-improved sequel that doesn’t deviate too far from the formula and if you are new to the series, you can dive straight into the game without prior knowledge of events. There aren’t too many horror games on the Switch and Outlast 2 is definitely the best example of a modern horror game that I’ve come across this year (although I do have a soft spot for Unforgiving: A Northern Hymn).

Right, I’m off to wander through a cornfield full of chanting cultists at 3am, what’s the worst that could happen?
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Outlast 2 is available on the Nintendo e-Shop now. And click the link to check out our review of Outlast: Bundle of Terror on the Nintendo Switch.

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