The independent horror game Outlast, published in 2013, was highly appreciated among both the players and the critics. Amazing dynamics of gameplay, strong presence of fear and repulsion, outstanding sound design and, more importantly, appealing soundtrack by Samuel Laflamme are what made that production special. In April 2017, Red Barrels Studios published the second installment of the game, inviting the composer once again. The soundtrack appeared shortly before the premiere of Outlast 2. The story of the game takes place during one night at a small village somewhere in the Arizona desert. The protagonist and his wife are running a reporter’s investigation of a mysterious death of an unindentified woman. While arriving at the spot, their helicopter crashes and the reporter’s wife disappears. Even worse, local inhabitants seem to be downright hostile. So we’re dealing again with sneaking and running, like we did in the first game, however, this installment is more intense.
Samuel Laflamme proved again he is good at creating horror scores.
That makes a wide variety of possibilities for the composer. While making the soundtrack, Samuel Laflamme left the chamber music ensemble distinctive to the first Outlast OST. Instead he used guitars, basses, percussion and instruments made by himself, and then tweaked their sounds with various effects. According to him, the music in first Outlast was meant to make the player suffer while in the second one – to make the player go insane. The soundtrack does its job perfectly. Most part of it contains the so-called “chase music”, with fast, trance-inducing percussion beats. Since we run almost all the time during gameplay, we stay in a permanent sense of danger, intensified further by the music. Just like in the first Outlast installment, the soundtrack is not easy to listen to for an average listener. Distortions and grindings, high-pitched sounds made by various surfaces rubbed by a violin bow (a distinctive trademark of this composer), dark and murky drones, almost no melody, unsettling percussion strikes – all of these actually put the player on the edge of sanity.
There is something primal in this music. A trancelike feeling, non-catchiness, dryness and brittleness of the sound, animal sounds imitation (like cows mooing). We feel like being transported straight into the moonlit, hostile desert, where local communities live untouched for decades, faithful to their tradition and rituals, also the dark ones. The soundtrack amazingly matches the visuals and the perfect sound design. The unique harmony of the latter with the OST is what requires close attention. It’s present for example at the moment when one of the enemies shoots his bow; flutter of the arrows and the sound of them hitting the trees and rocks perfectly mixes with the soundtrack. The dry and sandy sound of the OST also matches the characteristic sounds of the desert like sand falling, wind blowing, dry bushes rustling.
Outlast 2 OST is one of the most interesting soundtracks of last year.
The Outlast 2 Official Soundtrack album contains fourteen pieces mixed together coherently. The music is perfectly produced and mixed. Some of the pieces require closer attention. Let’s Step Back Into Class, Please appears in some less intensive parts of the game, greatly building the tension. The grinding Show Me Your True Face is so intense, though, that the game’s developers asked the composer to rearrange it so they could place it in the game. The album ends with a moving, apocalyptic piece titled You Never Let Me Go, in which the composer used the recording of a church choir performing Ave Verum Corpus by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The recording contains a natural, seven seconds long reverb of the church, which makes it sound unearthly, unreal. Matched with the visuals and what we experience in the finale of the game, this piece evokes very strong emotions, as if something bright and pure emerged from all the chaos end evil. The composer did a trick with the titles of the pieces. When the capital letters in all the album titles are put together, they form the word “redemption”. It refers to the ending of the game and all the way the protagonist has to traverse.
Outlast 2 OST is one of the most interesting soundtracks of last year. Samuel Laflamme proved again he is good at creating horror scores which are both scary and moving. If there is a chance the third installment of Outlast comes out, I cannot imagine the developers cooperating with another composer.