Thursday, 27 October 2016

Outlast 2 - Demo impressions

Outlast 2 has been making its way through the dark for a while now, but it's finally getting much closer. The sequel to Outlast, which was set inside a dark, corrupted asylum, will be released in 2017 across PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. No price has been revealed. Never mind all that, though. Grab your night-vision camera and a handful of batteries, because we're exploring the Outlast 2 demo.

The demo starts with a little context, wrapping the scares up in an investigative package that is similar to that of the original game:

"You are Blake Langermann, a cameraman working with your wife, Lynn. The two of you are investigative journalists willing to take risks and dig deep to uncover the stories no one else will dare touch. You’re following a trail of clues that started with the seemingly impossible murder of a pregnant woman known only as Jane Doe. The investigation has lead you miles into the Arizona desert, to a darkness so deep that no one could shed light upon it, and a corruption so profound that going mad may be the only sane thing to do."

With that in mind, Blake is thrown down a cliff, clearly separated from his beloved Lynn, and re-unites with the other love of his life; his camera. As soon as he picks it up, I'm in control, and immediately as spooked as ever. It's an almost pitch-black night, though the moon lights my way at first, and I'm heading towards a small gathering of huts. When I get there, I turn on my night-vision camera for the first time and see eyes shining in the darkness. All around me. They don't move, but I decide to duck into one of the huts through an open window. An errant crow flies through and I wonder why I even like horror so much in the first place. 

By this point, I very much feel like I'm back in the universe of Outlast, despite the fact that everything so far has been much more open. Each new scare, whether scripted imaginary, nothing more than a gust of wind blowing through an open door, keeps me on edge. This is definitely Outlast.

I'm being as vague as possible in order to leave the 5-10 minute demo unspoiled, but there's a lot packed into it. It appears as if there's multiple facets to the narrative of Outlast 2, with the little town or farm feeling somewhat cult-ish, containing a number of different spirit-like entities, and a hell of a lot of dead bodies. Naturally, it's all very creepy, if a little disconnected.

My initial concern with the Outlast 2 demo is that this small glimpse into the sequel felt like it had too many different layers. While this isn't necessary a bad thing for the full experience, these layers were added with an increase of the spiritual element that only really appeared towards the end of the first game.

Within the demo I was shown a number of different entities, locations and trippy sequences in a short space of time. Though each delivered their own scares well, they lacked the brutal realism of the first title, which felt very much like You vs Them in an abandoned asylum. Clean. Simple. Scary. Outlast 2 has clearly been messing with a Ouija board since then.

The demo was also much more open than I'd expected, and I lost my way a few times towards the end of the demo when being chased through a cornfield. It could have just been fear, but the way out - which turned out to be jumping a fence using a stack of pallets - wasn't clear to me. All very minor things, and I'm not surprised to find myself with some concerns. Outlast raised the bar so high for indie horror games. It's a hard one to live up to. I know that I've been spoiled...

Don't get me wrong, I completely trust Red Barrels to deliver a sequel that's as terrifying as the original. I just hope that the scares aren't wrapped up in a story that I'll neither understand nor remember when the final credits roll. Until we find out for sure, go forth, find out more about the game on Red Barrels' website, and try the demo on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam. It'll scare the night-vision right off of your camera.

If you'd prefer to watch someone else be terrified by it, watch Markiplier play through below:

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