Outlast 2: How I Survived Insane Mode

Note: This article has been translated from Italian by ChatGPT and may contain errors.

I have to say it. I hold no ill will against the developers of Outlast 2, they have all my respect, but they’re some huge jerks. And a bit sadistic too. Jerk sadists. I say this with the utmost respect. I say it with a positive connotation. I say it affectionately, without any malice. Because, after all, from a survival horror game, what more could one want than an extreme survival challenge that pushes patience, tension, and nerves to the limit? You can’t ask for more… or worse. Red Barrels did this with the first Outlast, but they upped the ante with Outlast 2, making it much more difficult than its predecessor.

Challenge accepted!

What does the Insane difficulty mode entail? If you’ve played Outlast or Outlast 2, you should know. In a nutshell, you have to complete the game from start to finish in one go without dying. No checkpoints, no saves. You can’t quit. You can’t die (imagine if the power goes out or the game crashes…). In practice, it’s like shooting a feature film in one continuous shot of about two and a half hours, with no tricks allowed. One mistake, and you have to start the entire movie over again. And the difficulty is set to Nightmare (the highest for enemy damage and movement speed). In short, it’s quite the test of endurance. The catch is that the folks at Red Barrels didn’t stop there; no, they thought it would be a great idea to add a charming trophy/achievement that goes like this: “Complete the game on Insane difficulty without reloading the camera battery.” You heard that right! Besides worrying about not dying, you also have to worry about not using the camera (a core game mechanic). You can only use the battery that’s already in, and that’s it. You have to try to use the night vision as little as possible throughout the game. Of course, if you’re aiming for the platinum/1000G achievement, but it would be crazy to finish the game on Insane and leave that trophy/achievement behind. Now that would be insane!

I clearly accepted the challenge from the developers. After all, Outlast is one of my favorite horror games, and horror is one of my favorite genres. With the first Outlast, I managed to beat the challenge with some struggle (if I recall correctly, I died several times in the final sequence), but I didn’t suffer particularly. With Outlast 2, the matter became a bit more complex, enough to make the game’s platinum trophy deserving of the achievements that made me curse the most.

Start, run, die, and repeat

The ability to replay chapters and sub-chapters is extremely useful. Selecting the toughest sequences to test the best strategies is essential if you want to complete Outlast 2 on Insane. Compared to Outlast, there are many more moments in which you can bite the dust, and they’re nastier too. The game, in essence, is longer and harder.

I started out very enthusiastic. I tried and retried some sections, and then I told myself: “Okay, let’s do it.” I thought, “I’ll die, I’ll die quite a few times, the important thing is to never give up and keep trying, attempting each time to get further than in the previous playthrough.” And so, the nightmare began. Do you know where I died the first time? I know you’ll make fun of me, but I can’t back down now. It’s a complete embarrassment: the “second” villager killed me, the one in the small area behind the door, right after the game forces you to use the microphone. I panicked, I stayed behind the door not knowing what to do. The guy came in and got me.

But let’s make a nice list of the times I died. I noted everything during a four-day/four-night marathon. Obviously, the list contains spoilers, and only those who have played Outlast 2 will understand the references.

FIRST ATTEMPT: as I said before, I died in the very first “encounter” of the game.

SECOND ATTEMPT: one of the most frustrating parts, it got me every time. I’m talking about the damn Marta who appears when you push the cart towards the gate. I hate that part.

THIRD ATTEMPT: guess what? Marta again… by the cart.

FOURTH ATTEMPT: Yes, her again, that ***** Marta. This time not by the cart, even before that, in the square before returning to the elevator. I mistimed it, and she appeared right in front of me.

FIFTH ATTEMPT: I was killed by that syphilitic jerk who comes at you in the first syphilitic camp.

SIXTH ATTEMPT: believe it or not… Marta! By the cart.

SEVENTH ATTEMPT: this is where I got stuck. After passing Nick/the archer among the huts in the woods, you have to carefully walk on a log acting as a bridge. Fearing a fall, I went cautiously, thinking I was safe and could catch my breath. But in Outlast 2, you’re almost never safe. There’s no moment of respite. So, I was moving slowly, and before I reached the end of the log, ZAC! An arrow hit me in the back. I realized it when I was already dead.

EIGHTH ATTEMPT: on the eighth attempt, I managed to progress about a minute or two beyond the seventh. I was hit by an arrow in the section immediately after that, where you have to avoid the arrows by hiding behind the rocks.

NINTH ATTEMPT: on the ninth try, I thought I could make it, at least to the mine. But no. I went further, but one of those Gollum-like creatures killed me during one of the escape sequences. It should be the first one when you’re inside the shed that serves as the entrance to the mines. I ran too much, got tired, and they caught up with me.

TENTH ATTEMPT: Marta struck again. She killed me while I was hiding in the grass, in the last area where she appears (excluding the last chapter).

It’s official: I hate Marta

After ten attempts, my patience began to waver. Disappointed, embittered, and tired, I started to lose hope. I wasn’t even that frustrated (okay, a bit, obviously), I was more afflicted. There were moments of weakness when I began to think about giving up the endeavor, when my inner voice, that jerk, started mocking me: “You suck, you’re not good enough. You’re terrible. You’re garbage. Loser. Give up.” Yet, another voice encouraged me. The Insane difficulty continued to call to me. Demoralization mixed with an almost masochistic desire. I was still drawn to it. Deep down, I kind of liked it. I had a purpose. I wouldn’t give up that easily. Giving up was out of the question. “Sooner or later,” I told myself, “Sooner or later.”

ELEVENTH ATTEMPT: and then death number eleven arrived. I hit some barbed wire in the area where you have to avoid Nick/the archer in the woods with the huts. And that was it: I fell and died, perhaps the boss killed me while I was on the ground.

TWELFTH ATTEMPT: this death is quite amusing (figuratively speaking). You know the first villager you see in the game? The one right after the helicopter crash, under the light, who runs away as soon as you approach. Well, he killed me. How is that possible? Because I’m an idiot. I ran towards him like an idiot, thinking nothing would happen. Too bad I got too close, and he didn’t take kindly to it.

THIRTEENTH ATTEMPT: I was hit by an arrow again. This time in the sequence where you have to escape immediately after taking the rope (the one stolen from the guy who’s hanging). I got stuck somewhere (playing in the dark isn’t the easiest), I lost just two or three seconds, but it was enough for me to get hit by an arrow as soon as I resumed running.

FOURTEENTH ATTEMPT: right after the crucifixion, while going to get the hand bandages under the tent. I went too fast and woke up one of those big jerks. I tried to run, but as I did, I attracted the other big jerk nearby. They surrounded me, I panicked, and the guy killed me.

FIFTEENTH ATTEMPT: the fifteenth attempt? Well, I already had it marked on the note sheet, ready to write down the point of death, but it wasn’t necessary. I made it, holy crap!!! Run completed in the dead of night, from about a quarter past midnight to two and eight minutes, for a total of two hours and twenty minutes of tense nerves. In the end, my hands hurt. In the mine, I thought I was going to die. Fortunately, it went well. I have to say that I practiced the mines the most. However, I almost lost it there, I was only hit once by one of those little monsters. Then, at the end, when you have to escape from Marta with Lynn, I slightly took the wrong path. There was a second or two of panic, then I got back on track, just in time to see Marta a few meters behind me. We’re talking about the section about five minutes from the end of the game. If she had killed me there, I don’t know, damn it. Anecdote: that same night, I dreamt that killers wanted to kill me, and I was running…

SCORE: 15 attempts, 14 deaths

NASTIEST BOSS: Marta (5 kills), followed by Nick/the archer (4 kills). No kills by Val and the school demon (Father Loutermilch).

Save the battery for the mine

Playing in the dark

The trophy for using only one camera battery has obviously made several sections more complicated. If you think that maxing out the brightness in the game options and on the TV is enough, you’re dead wrong. There are moments of complete darkness where you can’t see a damn thing. You have to almost memorize the path. Setting the brightness, however, does help. I tried the game on two different TVs, and in the end, I chose the one where I could see a bit more. In any case, by the end of the game, I’d used up almost the entire battery.

Some advice

. Max out the brightness on your TV/game options!

. Stay calm, don’t be afraid. Thanks to the rocket, right? Well, it seems obvious, but to play on Insane, you need steady nerves. Remember to breathe. Stay focused. It’s just a game, you’re not really risking your life (maybe…).

. Inject yourself with a lot of patience. Have a chamomile tea, if you want.

. Practice in the sections where you have the most trouble on Nightmare difficulty. The more you do it, the better. During the Insane playthrough, your heart will race uncontrollably at times, but through repeated attempts, you’ll learn to manage the situation. In some cases, the anxiety will disappear altogether.

. Don’t be too overconfident. Okay, you need to stay calm, be determined, and not be afraid, but don’t be too cocky, or you might end up making some of the mistakes I did. Sometimes you need a moment of patience and a bit of intelligence. Don’t be reckless and think before you act. Remember that even a small mistake can lead to death. The game doesn’t leave much room for error. Making a mistake almost always results in a game over.

. Don’t get angry when you die. It’s pointless. Accept that you might die quite a few times. Transform your anger into determination.

. Create a comfortable environment around you. I didn’t do this, but playing in a well-lit room, maybe with someone else around, could help alleviate the tension. Relax a bit too. Encourage yourself mentally. I tried listening to music during a session, but after a while, it started to annoy me and distract me from the action. Maybe it will work better for you. For me, though, it’s better to hear the game’s sounds and music clearly, especially in crucial moments. Like with Marta by the cart. Brr!

. Study the game. There are several gameplay videos easily found on YouTube for Insane difficulty. I’m not a fan of gameplay videos, but this is the classic exception that proves the rule. They’re your best weapon for studying Outlast 2 when you’re not playing, but don’t just focus on the strategies you see in the videos, try to find ones that you’re comfortable with by experimenting on your own.

Let’s tease ourselves a bit

. Use night vision as little as possible. For the camera battery trophy/achievement, once you’ve become familiar with the game, you should be able to use night vision very sparingly for most of the adventure. There are some moments where it’s hard to avoid, but you should be able to use it sparingly until well past the halfway point of the game. I recommend toggling night vision on and off repeatedly instead of keeping it on for an extended period. The idea is to get to the mine with enough battery. Then use it as much as you need when it’s necessary (like during escapes from Val; note, however, that it’s not a good idea to keep the camera out all the time, you run faster without it). Anyway, don’t overdo it. If you run out of battery, you’re really screwed.

. Never look back during escapes.

. Use cutscenes to stretch/relax a bit. Unfortunately, you can’t skip the videos, and especially at the beginning, they’re quite tedious. Do something else in the meantime, like going to the bathroom and avoiding wetting your pants.

. Don’t give up. It’s easy to get discouraged after dying repeatedly, but the difference between failure and victory is all right here. It’s a test of endurance. Practice makes almost perfect. Stay focused on the goal, and sooner or later, the right match will come. In short: the tough get going!

Let’s tease ourselves a bit – Part 2

How are you doing? Did you make it? Did you try? If you have other advice or questions, don’t be afraid to leave a comment below.

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