The main story of Outlast 2 is quite simple: you are Blame Langermann and you need to find your wife, Lynn Langermann. You discover the supposedly empty mountains are full of fanatical cult member that have no second thoughts about committing murder, torture or infanticide. To make things worse, these people now hold your wife hostage and see her as a mother of the Anti-Christ.
While there is more to the story than just finding and saving your wife, I found the story itself to be very lackluster and even if you could call the ending an open ending, I still feel like the game does not give you enough clues or hints in order to figure out what truly happened. Instead, it feels more like it was badly written with simply not enough content to it.
Although I was dissatisfied with the main story, I found the stuff going on around it was much more interesting. The setting and the background story were by miles more interesting to discover and know more about out than trying to save your wife from the people who kidnapped her. Every time the game reminded me “I need to find Lynn”, it made me release a big sigh because I did not want to move on to a new area to find her, I simply wanted to move on to find out more what happened to everyone and the place. I loved reading the notes and other bits and pieces of info, helping my understanding of the mystery. I felt like if that would have been the focus of the game, it would have turned out much better in the end than the pretty generic plot.
A good amount of time into the game, I had taken a big liking to the gameplay and mechanics of the game; however, the more I played and further I got, I encountered a lot more problems with it. When I first started playing, I found the game to be absolute marvelous with how it set up the horror and how I had to advance. The game gave a lot of hiding spots and while that gave me a sense of security, in the beginning, I soon discovered that the tall grass and empty barrels could be equally as terrifying. While it gave me cover, it also blocks my vision and in the end, they were hiding spot, not safe spots.
The game does not give you any option to fight back, so you are left with the option to either run, hide or die. The no fighting back rule of the game made it feel terrifying to sneak around in a field full of tall grass that blocks your vision because while the enemies have a tough time seeing you, you also have a tough time seeing them. This lead to a heart pumping experience where your senses sharpened up because you never knew if you missed seeing an enemy which could be searching for you just steps away.
In the beginning, I did have a nerve-wracking experience, but it fell off during the later stages due to two main reasons. First, the wonky AI shows itself and often the enemies are on a set path to patrol, so if you end up dying you, will pretty much know where he will be or how he will act. This leads to just thinking about where he spawns and where he goes. If you die a second time, then you simply repeat all you did up to that point and do something else. As the enemies simply do the same stuff every time you start over, it removes what should have been an anxious feeling of having to go through a nerve-wracking experience and turns it into a dull checkpoint restart.
The second reason is because while the game had good pacing in the start, where it did not turn dull because it provided enough action yet, it did not turn boring because it provided too much of it, the game simply lost touch balancing it. The later stages of the game turned into a hold down the forward key while running along a set path while being chased by X number of enemies. When you heard something scream during later stages of the game (which happened a lot), you were not frightened and you simply thought “Ok, where do I run now” while choosing to turn right or left depending on where the most lit up path were.
What I loved most about Outlast 2, and what could make me truly want to quit the game on the spot at times because of the sheer terror it instilled, was the sound design. From the vocals, music and the general sound in the game, it could stop me in my tracks and made me think twice if I really wanted to progress through the dark and twisted mountains. In combination with a dark environment or the gritty night vision on the camera, hearing the music while you are keeping quiet to focus on the sound of the enemy really made it feel like a horrifying environment to advance through. The sound made it so I could almost forget about all other stuff at the moment and just want to stay as still as possible because I did not know if something were around me or the game was messing with me.
So, the question comes down in the end if the game is worth it considering the faults it brings. If it all comes down to it, I would say that the game provides enough horror and quality to justify the €30 price tag and while I do feel like it does not live up to the first Outlast, I still had an enjoyable time playing it. Even with the problems it brings, it still enables great enjoyment for the price and it made me feel like quitting the game at some points not because it was bad, it was because it could chill me to the bones at parts as a true horror game should be able to accomplish.