Two things are true. The original Outlast was a terrifying game, and lead game designer David Chateanuef of Red Barrels is a bona fide horror fan. I recently tracked down David and dragged him away from game development to see if I could get him to spill the beans about what’s in store for Outlast 2. Unfortunately, David wasn’t budging, but it’s still a fun read as David and I talk horror movies, Sam Raimi, game design, and even a little bit of Outlast 2… sort of.

David: I am! That guy was and is a genius. When I was young I wanted to be him. That was my hero. Some people want to become Steven Spielberg, other wants to be Miyamoto, etc… Me? I wanted to do what Sam Raimi did. I wanted to do a freaking scary horror movie. I did some drawing of things inside the movie. Huge fan!
David: It was tense all the time. From the beginning until the end it’s just simply crazy. Also, the way Sam used the camera was great. There were a lot of good shots that I never saw before. I loved the demon view even if in fact that was simply just a camera view. It did bring the “first person” perspective that not many other movies did at the time. Sam succeeded in putting the audience into the same mood of the characters in the movie. We could feel the isolation. Mostly, Sam kind of put all the profound fear that everyone else had (lost in forest, demons, cellar, darkness). He made sure that the characters were not superheroes, but anti-heroes. That they did not have many weapons and that they all became demons one after the others. He was not scared to show stuff that could shock the audience e.g. when the girl is getting raped by the trees.
David: I saw It as soon as it came out. I think it’s a really good remake considering that there were a lot of expectation from the fans. There are a lots of good ideas in the movie. Scary ones, but also narrative ones (the drug addict drama). The blood rain is just completely insane. The fact that the girl decided to cut her hand to grab the chainsaw is like a wink to Evil Dead 2. The cellar scene was awesome. On the other hand, I was expecting more of a twist on the way it was filmed (like new shots, new perspective of view). I personally found that David was too weak, but maybe it was more the acting then how the character was supposed to be played. Overall, I watch the original and the remake over and over anyway!
David: We hope we are going to avoid the same tricks and twist. So far, we are approaching Outlast 2 with a new way to present the story, with a new setting, a new character, and some horror aspects that we didn’t try before. So, it is again a risk like it was for the first Outlast and we hope that the fans are going to like it.
David: First, you got to know that I’m not getting scared easily anymore. I almost can’t feel fear anymore. The movies had to be freaking good to scare me. So, when I find an horror movie that scares me, it is a good sign of the quality of the movie….. for me! So: 1st I enjoyed a lot The Grudge. It is a really, really good movie. It did scare me a lot. 2nd I was surprised by the quality of the movie Splinter 3rd V/H/S/2 was really interesting 4th Sinister, The Conjuring and Insidious were interesting discovery 5th Mama. For sure! The end I’m not sure though!
David: We work also around the three acts structures here at Red Barrels so we can always go back to the original plan and see if we are going too far from the original goal. Then we play and play and go with the feeling. But at the end, there are no real template to follow If your goal is to innovate and bring something new and fresh for the players.
David: It’s hard for me to get scared. And to be honest with you, I’m sad that P.T. didn’t work out on me. I was playing it at the Red Barrels’ studio during the day and I was not alone. We were 3 to play the game and we got mostly stuck with the riddles so I was mostly frustrated to not find the answers of the riddles and to pass the controller to my colleague who wanted to play. But, some games that scared me was Layers of Fear, Emily Wants To Play, Wick, Stairs.
David: In my opinion, P.T. was meant to be hard because there was a secret announcement at the end so the players could talk about it. That was their structure. The balancing of a game takes a lot of time, a lot of playtests, a lot of anticipation on how the player should play a sequence. We have to think how the player will think in each moment so we can build around that though. Which is hard….. We could be psychologist you know!
David: Ah man! I wish I could. It’s just that other people are going to be frustrated if we start to spoil things all around at different moments. Be at Pax and we’ll talk!

There you have it. Go to Pax this weekend and see Outlast 2. Tell them Modern Horrors sent you, I’m sure David will love that.

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