Reviews - Updated on April 14, 2022

With the release of Outlast in 2013, the hitherto little-known band Red Barrels had a big impact on the horror genre. The reason for this was a simple but elegant formula, according to which you have a defenseless hero with a camera instead of a weapon, locations drowning in darkness and invulnerable enemies – we just run and hide from these guys. Yes, blood, more blood … It seems nothing supernatural, but along with decent graphics and success with the public, Outlast began to dictate fashion. From unsuccessful, as in Daylight, plagiarism to careful quoting in Resident Evil 7 and in a host of clones made on the knee, the work of Canadian developers echoes everywhere. Let’s see if the second part managed to outshine the original.

“You breathe in, breathe out – everything will be fine.”

Exacerbation of the feelings of believers

Cameraman Blake Langermann, along with his wife Lynn, travels to the outback of Arizona to investigate the mysterious murder of a girl. But along the way, their helicopter crashes, Lynn disappears who knows where, and Blake, dropping tears and glasses, sets off on her trail. Electricity has not yet been delivered to the province where the action takes place, so there is darkness all around – at least gouge out your eye. Fortunately, the hero’s video camera, like in the first Outlast, is equipped with a night vision mode – even if he quickly consumes batteries, you won’t get lost with him in the three pines. Also, a miracle of technology helps the hero to eavesdrop on distant conversations and keeps key events in memory. It does not burn in fire, does not sink in water – in short, a device for all occasions. And only one thing is bad – you can’t break anyone’s head with a camera. It’s a pity.

Because the plot in the spirit of “The X-Files” as the plot develops, it turns into a horror film like “Hellraiser” with an admixture of Rob Zombie’s film repertoire. It turns out that the village is teeming with religious fanatics, who do not feed bread – let someone be sacrificed. And they are commanded by a truly infernal preacher named Sullivan Noth: only his portraits are not dangerous to hang in red corners, and only paper is allowed to be spent on recording his sayings. The geography and structure of the sect is based on the history of the “Temple of the Peoples”, which ended tragically in the fall of 1978, when more than nine hundred fanatics went to the other world along with their leader Jim Jones (Jim Jones). But even without this parallel, work on the entourage is visible in Outlast II.

If the authors intended to wrap excessive religious zeal in the grotesque, they succeeded one hundred percent. Here you have weak-willed shadows, lowing something about the punishments of heaven, here is a terrible old woman Marta, killing victims with a pickaxe, and here is His Sparrow, the only plump man for tens of miles around – just like Kim Jong-Un in the DPRK. The villain casts demons out of girls, of course, in bed, supporting power with terror, beating babies and a set of quotes from the Bible. And how do you like the confrontation between conventional Christians and equally conventional Satanists, the difference between which is purely formal? On the other hand, Outlast II also plays with conspiracy theories, including the impact on the psyche of radiant towers – in general, the ideological depth of the game is such that you can’t see the bottom. Throw in quoting everything that comes to mind in context, from Old Testament prophets to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. And in such and such a cauldron the hero is forced to cook.

Judging by the characters, Red Barrels is not very far removed from the theme of the madhouse.

Now he has no time to sit in the closets, taking a breath. Let the developers diversify the hide-and-seek mechanism, allowing Blake to crawl under beds, jump into barrels, dive under water for a while or simply lock doors behind him, you will be surprised to find that the enemy can also crawl on all fours, swim, and even land a latch on him it’s not that hard. Therefore, despite the variety of nooks and crannies, there are no absolutely reliable shelters here, and the fanatics following on the heels do not become less as you move towards the denouement. Their feelings are heightened – if necessary, they will see the hero in the darkness with the back of his head, and kill him with a couple of blows. What immediately sets the pace: the main occupation in the village of maniacs is steeplechase, occasionally interrupted by hallucinations about the school, where a parallel plot line develops.

The moments of transition from reality to, let’s say, an associative hell are arranged without montage glues, just as organically as the chases – either the door will open in the wrong direction, or the tentacles from the well will grab Blake under the mittens. In other words, when compared with the first part, Outlast II is a more meaningful, driving, integral and significant work for the culture of horror. But here’s the problem – no one cares.

scare me seven

Indeed, through its debut in 2013, the Red Barrels studio set the snares where it pleased itself. It was also at the suggestion of the first Outlast that bloody horror-attractions came into fashion, where a “screamer” is waiting for every second corner, and a corpse hangs from every second tree. What is in the original, what is in the second part of the suspense, that is, the forcing of the atmosphere necessary for the genre, is crumpled into a bouillon cube – here’s a minute for the exposition, and away we go. Only there it somehow worked, because it was fresh, but now it has become a common place in most horror films, and the “leave the most delicious, but more” method in this case spoils the sophistication of sensations. They themselves are to blame. Just because of gamers, vying to measure their stress resistance, horror developers staged a social competition – who will scare faster, higher, stronger. And, of course, they broke firewood.

“How beautiful this world is, look!”

Not in terms of gameplay: the staff at Red Barrels are very frugal with the time you spend in front of the monitor, offering maximum emotion per square meter. Babaiki are seated in the corners with skill, but they cease to terrify if they are screwed in every five minutes. The anatomical theater ceases to cause disgust when its branches are open in all gateways, and you are afraid of unkillable and nimble enemies only up to the second dozen deaths. The sudden fall of the hero makes you wince, but repeat it a dozen times – and you get a comedy with Charlie Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin). So after two or three hours the game becomes more and more like some kind of zombie action with chases like Dying Light, under which you involuntarily start to grumble: “Leave me alone – I just want to know how it ends!”

Such an overdose of effects, coupled with a craving for realism and a much greater seriousness than in the original, prompts questions. For example, what would you do in a situation where the life of a loved one is at stake? Grabbing the same pitchfork or rake scattered around, would you rush into battle? No, replies Outlast II, you would be asthmatic and whining hysterically, scrabbling gardens in danger. Okay, shock, injury – this is understandable, and therefore horrors like Resident Evil 7 or Alien: Isolation do not immediately arm the protagonists. However, Blake’s behavior does not change on the second day of his stay in the village. As a result, you don’t sympathize with the hero, you don’t associate yourself with him – because fu be like that. For a game that shows a very personal story of a lifetime, for a five-minute trip to the end of the night, the brat in the title role is like a drunken trombonist in a brass band.

“Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka”

It’s a paradox: Outlast II has all the components of an ideal horror, but it doesn’t turn out to be really scary – it’s like someone calling Nikolai Gogol’s story a horror story. Instead of fear, the authors offer us nervous tension, which, you see, is not the same thing. When there is no map and no one shows exactly where you need to go, this, of course, is annoying. The encounter with the “boss”, whose habits are still unfamiliar, also creates tension. Garlands of intestines and reading notes about the atrocities happening in the village, of course, keep you in good shape. From a sudden attack of a redneck maniac in a hurry, you confuse the buttons, from a branch that crackles in the darkness – you shudder, you lock the doors behind you just in case, and as soon as the last battery for the camera runs out, you start to get nervous. But the listed components work on the strength of an hour and a half.

The hero’s visions hint that the devil is in the details.

On the other hand, Outlast II can not be called bad, much less a failure. This is a rich and dynamic thriller with a meticulously worked out universe, giving a hundred points odds to the psychiatric hospital from the first part. The developers from Red Barrels depict scenes of violence in the way that only they can do – without sliding into the vulgarity of category B films. The gameplay requires skill and quick reaction: here we run, there we fall and slip through a hole in the fence, and then to the left, into the thicket. And what if the soul does not sit on the heels for most of the story, and the blood does not freeze in the veins? This does not negate the artistic value of the work, so it will successfully complement the collection of not only a fan of interactive hassle, but also any gamer who appreciates things made with soul.

A copy of the game (page in the store) of the .Ru editorial staff was presented by our friends – GOG.com, for which special thanks to them.

Pros: an interesting world with its own mythology and a plot that you follow; modern graphics and respectable work with sound; dynamism goes well with chases and hide and seek, and also creates tense situations; smooth work without bugs and crashes, high-quality optimization.

Cons: chases and violence become boring over time; because of the fast pace, there is no time to savor the horror; the hero is unsympathetic.

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