Wooooo Outlast 2 is here! We always need more new (good) horror games, and this one did not disappoint. Outlast 2 plays much like its predecessor, with enough gore and depravity to make even the strongest of stomachs turn at least once and hours worth of tense hide and chase scenes where a whole new batch of disgusting maniacs want to do terrible things to your special bits.
Some reviews are complaining that they go TOO far with the shock and gore, not in the sense that it’s too much to handle, but in that it’s so frequently in your face that it desensitizes you too quickly to the horror surrounding you. I suppose I agree with that to some degree. While there were some parts that made me a bit uncomfortable (mostly all the implied rape going on), and there’s no doubt that the chase sequences can be intense, I never quite felt the unease and paranoia that I did with the first one or with say, Resident Evil 7. It’s hard to say whether that was because of this desensitization theory or if Resident Evil 7 in VR has just spoiled me with its crazy VR creepiness.
Another common complaint is that the change in setting is simultaneously too linear and too unpredictable. How is that even possible, you might ask? Hell if I know, I might answer. People seem to have been under the impression that the first one was more of an open world somehow and I’m not quite sure why. There were certainly a lot more doors and rooms, compared to the more open forest-y type areas in 2. I guess it was easier to find your way around in 1 sometimes because it’s easier to follow landmarks within a set structure than it is when you’re running around in the woods in the dark, and so in some cases it was easier to hide/run, but I didn’t have any serious trouble with it here. There were a couple times where the proper path for you to take to escape wasn’t immediately completely obvious, but it never took more than a couple retries to work it out.
None of this stopped the game from being ridiculously fun and compelling, to the point where I pushed through it all in two nights. What really had an impact on me though, is the same thing that seems to be upsetting the most people about the game: the ending. Now, I won’t get into specific details until spoiler time begins down at the bottom where I’m going to analyze the shit out of it (so…don’t go down there if you don’t want to know), but if you’ve played the first game, you probably have at least some idea of what to expect in regards to what’s really going on here, because of course it’s not just as simple as “some hicks in the woods are crazy about Jesus and slobbering dick-angels”.
The problem for some is that things are not spelled out as neatly as they were in the first game. If you don’t find 2, out of 55, specific documents in the game, you’ll never even know what was really going on in the game. Hell, even if you do find them, you’re still probably going to have to go online to get answers to some questions. It’s a lot like the end of Black Ops 3 (though the details are not quite as obscurely hidden as in that one), where you have to piece a lot of it together on your own and maybe replay it again to re-process all the little hints you were being given that you didn’t recognize the relevance of the first time. It requires some thinking and some willingness to accept that you just aren’t going to get 100% of the answers you want, and not everyone is ok with that, I guess. OH WELL. SPOILER TIME!
Anyway, let’s talk about that ending because I am fucking dying to discuss this thing (even if it’s most likely just with myself, but if anyone happens to actually read this and you want to discuss it, please do so). So openly, the game presents itself as being a story of a guy and his wife investigating a bizarre pregnancy/murder, helicopter crashes, wife is kidnapped by one group of crazy religious hillbillies who do terrible things to her and want to kill her baby because they think it’s the antichrist, and then kidnapped again by another, separate group of crazy religious hillbillies who oppose the first group and want the baby to be born because it will be their new messiah. The game ends with you briefly rescuing your wife, who is suddenly about 9 months pregnant, despite the fact that she wasn’t pregnant at all when you arrived a few days ago, and then proceeds to pop out her baby and die with her cryptic last words being “there’s nothing there”. Cult leader #1 then appears, tells you that you should kill the baby, then kills himself. You walk out to see that the whole first cult has committed suicide because they think the apocalypse was coming, and then it kind of does, because the sun appears to explode and you have one last brief flashback vision before the game just ends there.
So what the fuck did that mean? Well, like I said before, you need to have found one or both of the documents discussing the metal towers, which reveal that the weird flashing light and horn sound that come from the sky and cause all these weird things to happen every so often, are actually the effects of experimental microwave emitting towers that are placed at the corners of the local area. These towers come from none other than the Murkhoff corporation, the people behind everything that happened in the first game, and their symptoms are known to include intense hallucinations and an overclocked sex drive. This is what’s been causing all the villagers to turn into a crazy sex cult, the religious overtones of which are merely incidental, as the leader of the group just used his religious beliefs as a basis to rationalize the inexplicable things happening to him, and went on to shape the collective madness based on his own perspective. It seems likely that this whole area is an experiment to produce test subjects to work with the morphogenic engine from the first game, which required its users to be completely insane in order to control the nano-swarms.
Problem is, you’ve been getting hit with these same microwave blasts since you arrived, and looking back on it, oh crap, that’s why you’ve been having increasingly bizarre and frequent flashback hallucinations about the most traumatic event of your past. In fact, after a certain point later in the game, the things from your visions start bleeding out into the real world, which at the time, may have seemed like the act of some mysterious, malevolent being, but is actually just your mental line between fantasy and reality beginning to break down due to the microwaves.
Then we have the impossible pregnancy and mystery baby. Your wife wasn’t pregnant when you arrived and you claim that you hadn’t had sex for months before that. Early in the game it was implied that the cultists did something to her, which you most likely assumed was rape, given the weirdly sexual content of the notes you find early on and all the talk about either killing or saving her baby, but looking back, that was only ever an assumption on the part of the viewer. More misdirection from the game to make it seem like something supernatural must have happened to her. This is probably where things get the most confusing, as it seems that the baby never really existed. Your wife remarks several times that the pregnancy doesn’t feel right and that something’s wrong and when the baby finally does come, she looks down and then looks at you and says “there’s nothing there”, before dying. If you look closely you can even actually see that you can see the shadow of you and your outstretched arms on the ground, but there is nothing where the baby should be. This is where you need to be an expert in Outlast lore, apparently, as the answer here lies hidden away in a note from the first game, where it’s explained that the morphogenic engine was known to cause bizarre high speed phantom pregnancies in nearby women. So the baby was just you finally giving in completely to the collective madness.
As for the sun “exploding”, it seems that this must be Murkhoff cleaning up after itself. At this point almost the entire population is now dead, either by mass suicide or in the mine collapse, and so the experiment is over. Many people are saying that this was the site being nuked, but I don’t see why they would need to do that when they could simply turn the microwave emitters up to 11 and boil everyone’s brains. The fact that you have one final vision between the sun and the credits rolling would seem to support this, as you wouldn’t really have time to stop and have a vision if you had just been atomized by a nuclear device.
So I think that about covers most of it. I see a lot of people saying and complaining that this game is a big meany towards Catholicism, but I think they, like apparently most people, are misunderstanding the message here. Religion didn’t cause anyone to do anything they did in this game, just like it doesn’t in real life. Religion is just something they used to rationalize or justify their own thoughts and actions when faced with things and thoughts that they were unable or unwilling to explain, when really it was nothing more than humanity’s inherent capacity for unbelievable levels of brutality and depravity behind it all. Or in other words: