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Outlast 2

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Let me being by saying I've never played the first game. I am however a horror connoisseur if you will. If I'm watching a movie it's likely horror, if I play a horror game, I generally like it.

I've played the 4 main Silent Hill games, the Penumbra series, and both Amnesia games.

Outlast 2 is nothing like these games. It doesn't know how to build or keep tension, it rarely ever offers even a good jump scare (which is primarily what this game is) and its story just seems all over the place and it just feels like one really bad shroom trip.

In fact, if you don't wanna read the whole review, stop here. It's a really bad shroom trip, minus any actual fear or paranoia for the most part.

The characters are simply underdeveloped. You play a journalist called Blake and your wife also happens to be a journalist and her name is Lynn.
Blake's development is mainly done through these dream sequences in the school. Which means it's often vague and has little impact. One of the primary antagonists shows up once and then once more as a monster and that's it. Another, Marta, this games discount dollar store Pyramid Head if you will, receives some development through notes but is mostly just another lunatic cultist to run from. The second main antagonist is again, mostly referred to in notes or in dialogue and then shows up twice.
I've researched before playing the gist of the story, a fan of the original Outast summarizes what's going on but it just feels pointless. The motivation to go on is supposedly to rescue your wife who gets separated from you early on but she's not developed well so I don't care.
Really, the only reason I carried on is because I was intrigued by the feel of the lore if that makes any sense. The atmosphere isn't too shabby and the game just feels deeply sickening.

The scares are practically nonexistent as is the tension. I almost feel like I'm playing a forced stealth non-lethal run of Assassins Creed. It mostly follows a similar formula to that games assassinations. You see an area crawling with baddies that you don't want to be found by, you observe the surroundings, and you try to get through it without alerting anyone. It's not scary because you can usually immediately see what needs to be dodged and then it's just waiting for it to fuck off while you bolt to whatever area you've set as your current goal.

Amnesia had monsters that could spawn anywhere at anytime, it was creepy BECAUSE there was nothing there until there suddenly was! It actually had little to do with the monsters lethality or even speed. It was the building tension of waiting for it to happen, once it happened you had NO idea where the monster was. Amnesia of course has its own problems but it still has effective scares unlike Outlast 2.

Silent Hill varied. In the actual town of Silent Hill fog obscured your vision and monsters could be anywhere, often multiple. In the tighter spaces you could hear them coming but their designs were so horrific that it was still scary. Never mind that the choice of defending yourself builds tension too. You could use your limited resources to fight this enemy... but perhaps it would be best to save resources... In addition there was no hiding, you had to either kill it or go to another room, which might be locked or a dead end, forcing you to re-engage with the little hell spawn. Amensia and Outlast 2 have none of that kind of tension obviously. Naturally the atmosphere of the Silent Hill games has yet to be topped as well.

The enemies just aren't scary for the most part. They're slow and bumbling, even comical at some points. There was a point in the game where a nutty witch waving around a dagger and chanting threatening praises allowed me to stand in front of her for as long as I liked. I could steal her bandages and batteries right in front of her and she'd carry on chanting merrily. I could only make her attack me by invading her personal space, and she'd only attack me until I was pushed outside of that space, which usually meant a single attack. That turned something that could have been tense into a hilarious comedy routine.

When the AI isn't being too comical to be scary, it's busy guarding the area you need to get to causing unnecessary frustration at times while you try to figure out how to make it move without taking a machete to the face. Basically, that often translates to finding something to hide in and then bolting the second it gets out of the way.

So basically Outlast 2 isn't scary. It's gross, it's funny, it's tedious, but almost never scary. It's like a b-movie horror about inbred hillbillies.

The atmosphere is pretty good. The sound design is generally fine.. except for one thing. When the protagonist is scared he will NOT STOP panting. It quickly becomes grating. You as the player will most likely feel cool as a cucumber for most of the game but this idiot will be breathing in your ears ALL the damn time. It actually takes away from the creepy ambiance! They could have added faint sounds to build your paranoia! Like houses settling sounding like someone walking across wood! Or some glass breaking just far enough to make you worried! But no. Panting is what you get. Lots of panting. You'd think you were playing as a very thirsty dog.

It seems like this series wanted to take the concept of Amnesia and makes it own thing... but Amnesia made its darkness a central mechanic and allowed you to actually fucking see in it, eliminating any and all annoyance that WOULD have been derived from it. Amnesia kept its tension high by having an area initially clear and spawning enemies randomly. Amnesia has the same problem that once the chase begins the scare factor drops to near nill BUT because of its clever choices in its sanity system and how it handled its monsters, it builds paranoia and tension incredibly well and thus manages to make scares even when scares are not present from paranoia.

Outlast 2 just sticks some hillbillies out in some huts and calls it a day.

4/10 a very poor horror game, if you're like me the atmosphere/lore might intrigue you but it will barely be worth trudging through as all of it leads to disappointment. None of the villains who are written about so extensively are done justice. The main characters are bland and uninteresting. The game is more funny than it is scary, and there's practically no tension to be had save for a twinge in the final parts. But you might as well play the first hour of Silent Hill 2 instead if you want far superior tension and scares.
 
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