A very good port, of a pretty good game.
Evidently the Switch is the place to be if you’re a horror game. Over the past few months we’ve seen the genre carve out a sizable chunk of the Switch eShop and, for the most part, I’m not complaining. Like Layers of Fear and its own predecessor, Outlast 2 stands as an excellent conversion to Nintendo’s mobile platform.
From the moment it started up, I was stunned by just how good Outlast 2 looks on Nintendo Switch. In fact I had to return to the PC version to reassure myself that changes had been made at all. Some level of detail distances have been reduced, meaning you’re more likely to spot a low poly asset a bit closer to the camera. Foliage also now draws in much closer to the player. But in exchange for these concessions, you get a full sweet of rich lighting effects and motion blur all at a remarkably smooth 30 frames per second. I know it's not like me to open a review with a rant on graphics, but I want to hammer home what an excellent port Outlast 2 is. The changes made are smart and, especially when playing handheld, often times imperceptible. In other words if you’re interested in Outlast 2, rest assured that the Switch version does not skimp on anything, and offers a very accurate experience.
Outlast 2 opens with you and your wife aboard a helicopter. You serve as her cameraman as she documents an investigation into a series of disappearances. You quickly become separated, leaving you to explore on your own. As you explore you encounter a pseudo-Christian cult bent on protecting the world from the birth of the antichrist. Running tandem to this story are flashbacks your character has to growing up in a Catholic school. Both of these storylines focus on similar themes of misuse of power, children as expendables, and the loss of innocence. I found that I had mixed feelings when it came to the story. The cult felt generic. It was a plot line I had seen in plenty of other horror games, and never presented me with anything truly original. On the other hand, the flashback storyline was incredibly engrossing. It handled very real issues in a very powerful way. I found myself pushing through the cult storyline just so I could see what happened next in the flashback storyline.
In terms of gameplay Outlast 2 is very similar to its predecessor. You have no weapons, and must hide or avoid enemies. Your only tool for seeing in the dark is your camera’s night vision which must be constantly fed batteries. Luckily everything in the world uses the same size of battery so there are plenty lying around. It's not a bad setup, but it gets very repetitive very quickly. No new mechanics are ever introduced. Within the first 10 minutes you’ll have seen everything the game has to throw at you. The entire game can be broken down to, explore and look for batteries or lore, sneak past some cultists, then run from a big bad.
Outlast 2 does little to elevate it beyond the original Outlast. What results is a well put together, but ultimately predictable, and even generic horror experience. At times the story stumbles into masterpiece territory, but then quickly course corrects back into a generic evil cult plotline. Outlast 2’s highs are monolithic, but it spends the majority of its time thoroughly rooted in being just pretty good. That being said the Switch version is an excellent port on a technical level. Outlast 2 is without a doubt one of the best looking horror titles currently available on Switch, if not the most inventive.