There are a few elements to a video game that will ensure I will want to play it. One is if I can date in the game; preferably date humans, but I have settled for pigeons before. The second is if it has any dealings with a period of history that I find interesting, I will want to give it a go. The third, and probably the most compelling for me, is if it is a horror game. I cannot get enough of being scared and when movies fail me, I find that horror video games are quickly becoming my go to in getting that adrenaline rush. Enter Outlast. A few years ago, I watched a video of a group of friends playing a game in which the player went to an asylum and ran away from grotesque monsters, deformed figures, and other horrific elements. The point of the game wasn’t a matter of finishing the mission before your character died, it was simply trying to last as long as you could and survive. I was hooked and I scrambled to download the game as soon as I could, waiting to run around and scream like a fool in my living room.
This PAX East, as I walked around the booths, I found myself standing in front of a black hut that had logs protruding from the front and line wrapped around the back. I looked to the side and saw Outlast II and nearly fainted from joy mixed with anxiety of what was going on inside the hut. The next day, Nick Bristow and I made our way to Red Barrels’s booth and entered the hut through curtains which cut the light from the convention hall and dampened the roar of the crowd to almost a hum. I should note: before we entered the booth, there were disclaimers that our game-play experience could be recorded and used for future purposes and I have to tell you, my anxiety level and joy heightened immediately – I knew that Red Barrels was serious about the game they made and that this was going to be the horror game I craved. Nick and I were led into a private booth, with the only light coming from the darkened screen, just enough to find the controller and headphones. After getting situated and wiping the sweat from my hands, I prepared myself as best I could for the game demo.
Outlast II opens with a husband and wife journalist team, on their way to investigate the murder of a pregnant woman. There is trouble though and through the cut-scene you experience a crash, separating you from your wife and gear. Stumbling down the cavern, it appears that your character is in the American Southwest, on the outskirts of an abandoned town. Armed with only your camcorder and limited battery life, Blake (the player character) must make his way through the town, try to find his way back to civilization, and to find his wife. Walking through the town, everything is falling down and in a complete state of disarray. Bloodstains spatter the walls of homes and dead livestock fill barns, leaving the buzzing sound of flies in the player’s ears. Behind every turn is a new horror to stumble upon and eventually the player finds themselves being chased and hunted down. The demo played until after I died, which was enough time for me to let out a scream and basically jump into Nick out of fear.
Just from playing the demo, I was blown away. It was everything I wanted in a second installment in the series and in a horror game in general. The controls were effortless, allowing the player to become fully immersed in the game and truly feel the fear that Blake is experiencing. The story still holds true to the original Outlast mechanics and what people will expect from the game, but encapsulates an almost cult/demonic story-line, providing the player with a different playing experience. Outlast II is currently still in development, but will be available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Until the game is released watch the teaser trailer and try to get some sleep tonight.