- Outlast 2 has the creepiest story, pushing the boundaries of the horror genre with its themes of murder, cults, and the Anti-Christ.
- The original Outlast has the most terrifying enemies, featuring bone shears, cannibals, and deranged cult members that will keep you on edge.
- Outlast: Whistleblower and The Outlast Trials tie for goriest, with graphic scenes including dismemberment and weaponized power drills.
You can’t talk about horror games without mentioning the Outlast series. Developer Red Barrels burst onto the scene in 2013 with the original Outlast. If you dared to play it, you weren’t ready for the number of white-knuckle moments that awaited you.
The Outlast series tested the limits of gore, twisted story-telling, and jump scares. Between Outlast, Outlast: Whistleblower, Outlast 2, and The Outlast Trials, which is most horrifying? Which game gets your heart pumping the fastest and has you wincing at the screen, expecting the worst?
Instead of an outright ranking, we’re taking all the key aspects of a scary game, and declaring ‘winners’ for each aspect.
Creepiest Story – Outlast 2
In the first game, you play as Miles Upshur, an investigative journalist poking around a remote mountain asylum overrun with evil. The DLC, Outlast: Whistleblower, has you play a software engineer who tries to expose the evil Murkoff Corporation.
Outlast 2 puts you in a desolate Arizona canyon home to a murderous cult. A crazed preacher, kidnapping, themes of the Anti-Christ, and the Murkoff Corporation all play a role. With The Outlast Trials, you find yourself an unwitting participant in a Cold War-era mind-control experiment. Each story embodies the horror genre, but Outlast 2 pushes the boundaries with even more shock value.
Most Terrifying Enemies – Outlast
Several characters in the series will have you sleeping with the lights on. The first game features Trager with his bone shears, Chris Walker, and the cannibalistic twins that pursue you. In Outlast Whistleblower, you contend with the same enemies, including The Swarm.
Outlast 2 has you facing a twisted preacher, Sullivan Knoth, his followers, ghostly Marta, and Val’s Heretics. The Outlast Trials has many vile antagonists like Leland Coyle, Mother Gooseberry, and Skinner Man. Comparing the different titles, it’s clear the original had the most unnerving enemies you dreaded coming across.
Goriest – Tie – Outlast: Whistleblower and The Outlast Trials
Each Outlast title has enough blood and guts to make even the most die-hard horror fan happy. You’ll witness other characters suffer the loss of limbs and see many corpses. Not for the faint of heart, this series doesn’t pull punches when showing the aftermath of a brutal altercation.
Outlast: Whistleblower has some very graphic scenes involving a character named Eddie Gluskin and a buzz saw. The Outlast Trials also includes shocking content. You’ll see weaponized power drills, carnival games with human hearts, and dismemberment.
Most Effective Jump Scares – Outlast
Love or hate them, jump scares are popular in modern horror, including the Outlast series. There are large sections of each game you’ll struggle to continue because you know something will leap out from the darkness.
But, the original Outlast is the entry that does the jump scare the best. The tension and anxiety build after your character enters the asylum. Nobody opened that door with a bloodied corpse swinging towards them and didn’t launch a few inches into the air.
Best Chase Sequences – The Outlast Trials
You spend each game in the series running and hiding since your character never gets a weapon. Both Outlast and Outlast: Whistleblower has several crazed enemies trying to capture you. Trager is one of the most memorable as you hide, and he begins looking under all the beds.
Outlast 2 also has several frightening chase scenes. But, these moments need trial and error to complete, which can get frustrating. The Outlast Trials involves the series’ greatest chases because there isn’t a scripted path when the chase begins. You have more freedom and opportunity to escape.
Most Alarming Environments – The Outlast Trials
The developer, Red Barrels, picked the most spine-tingling places for your character to explore. Experience a remote mountain asylum, an eerie desert canyon, and a horrid industrial test facility. Each location fits neatly into the average nightmare, but some titles in the series are creepier than others.
While the dark Arizona desert of Outlast 2 is unsettling, it’s not as confined as the asylum from Outlast or the testing rooms of The Outlast Trials. Something about being trapped in narrow corridors and small rooms ignites a primal fear. The disjointed and sometimes cramped spaces in The Outlast Trials take the cake.
Most Effective Sound Design – Tie – Outlast and Outlast: Whistleblower
One of the most critical elements of effective horror is sound. Well-done sound design can set the mood even without jump scares, gore, or visible enemies. Both Outlast and Outlast: Whistleblower use the hard surfaces of the asylum to bounce sound around.
Outlast 2 uses the sounds of wood creaking and moving through foliage to create suspense. The Outlast Trials uses mechanical sounds associated with each room, featuring moving elements. Despite excellent sound effects in each game, it’s a tie between Outlast and Outlast: Whistleblower.
Most Suspenseful Music – Outlast 2
The original game and its DLC featured a more orchestral soundtrack. It certainly fits the gothic design of Mount Massive Asylum. For the sequel, composer Samuel Laflamme approached the new location of the Arizona desert differently.
For Outlast 2, you’ll hear guitars, banjo, and percussion filtered through a modulator for added creepiness. The Outlast Trials returns to the orchestral sound with metallic ambient drones in the background. Outlast 2 with songs like “I am the Chorus of Screams!” edges out the other titles in the music department.
Outlast 1 and The Outlast Trials
Both games scored equal points, followed by Outlast 2 and Whistleblower in last place. As such, Outlast 1 is scariest for solo play, while The Outlast Trials is scariest for multiplayer.
Next: Best Horror Game Subgenres, Ranked