Despite being a horror game aficionado, I can’t really say that many games in the genre succeed at chilling me to the bone. Some horror game elements, such as an omni-present killer or frequent jump scares, may keep me edge – but that’s not quite the same as feeling that tinge of terror surging through my very core.

DreadOut 2, a sequel to the 2014 Indonesian horror game, not only succeeded at keeping me unsettled for the vast majority of its runtime, but also turned out to be an absolutely incredible game in its own right. What I assumed would be simply a pale imitation of Fatal Frame / Project Zero ended up being far, far more.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review code.

Playing as the ridiculously named Linda Meillinda, DreadOut 2 follows directly on from the events of the previous entry. Whilst prior knowledge is certainly not required to understand the story, I can say that familiarity will certainly help appreciate some of the finer details – particularly regarding the main antagonist. Thankfully, there is a helpful recap available in the extras menu to help fill in the gaps for newcomers, but it’s pretty easy to pick up the gist of what’s going on by the time you get through the initial prologue.

After a school trip went disastrously wrong, resulting in many of her classmates dying, Linda now suffers from survivors guilt as she tries her best to reintegrate herself back into normal life. She still remains an outcast as she feels responsible for their deaths, and some others in the school feel the same way. This is made ever the more apparent as she soon finds out that a curse has been placed upon her, putting her in the crosshairs of some vengeful spirits.


Right off the bat, you’re thrown into the deep end as you find yourself in Linda’s classroom late at night. Something is clearly off too, as the whiteboard contains threatening graffiti and the few students on the premises are cowering in fear of some lurking evil. It’s a strong start to the game as the tension quickly reaches a crescendo, and the haunting music makes you weary of what’s lurking around every corner. Ultimately though, this prologue is all about introducing you to Linda’s primary tool: her smartphone, along with its many uses – including a note tracker, a torch, and the all-important camera..

Linda’s smartphone is no doubt where the Fatal Frame / Project Zero comparisons come in too, as this camera is used to banish evil spirits via a quick snap or a slower but stronger charge shot. Some foes will require special timing to take out, or precise shots (usually to the head), so careful precision is required in order to survive. There’s no visual indicator for where spirits are going to come from either, so you’ll be reliant on your quick observational skills or audio clues to indicate where they’ll appear. It’s not quite as overwhelming as it sounds though, and there were very few times where an approaching attack felt unfair.

Despite what you may expect, the camera combat is not all that common for the vast majority of the game, as it’s primarily used for a lot of the special foes. This does ramp up later on during some of the later more action-heavy acts, but I was surprised to see that there’s a fair amount of physical combat too. These creatures that exist on the physical plane are immune to your camera attacks, although they can be stunned by using your smartphone’s flash functionality. In order to destroy them, however, you’ll need to get physical by obtaining and using a melee weapon of some sorts. These aren’t plentiful, and typically there’s only a single one to find on certain acts as part of the general progression; however, this scarcity also makes the weapon feel like a reward to use – particularly as the combat is extremely impactful and visceral to use. There’s not exactly a lot of depth to it, but it also feels like it doesn’t really need it either since it’s such a minimal part of the overall experience.


And that’s the beauty of DreadOut 2. It knows not to rely on a single thing, and uses that as a way to stop you from ever falling into a routine and knowing what to expect. And the same can be said about each act too, as they’re short enough for you to never get too familiar with your surroundings and always offer something quite different from the last. That initial school-based prologue is an excellent introduction to the spirits haunting you, but then the follow-up in the hospital goes balls-out with physical monstrosities, even encouraging you to hide within piles of corpses and the like to prevent getting cut open by a dangerous maniac. Every act is refreshingly unique, which helps to ensure that you’re never quite sure what to expect next.

Of special note too are the hideous creatures that fill up the game’s bestiary, who are all rooted within Indonesian folklore. They’re terrifying monsters to face, with a degree of weirdness that makes them feel all the more surreal. I was absolutely fascinated by each and every one, and thankfully the game provides brief details on the mythology behind them once you’ve taken them down.

Surprisingly though, what makes the horror work the most is not the atmosphere, nor is it the freakish creature design – instead it’s the inclusion of a rather laid-back and relaxing town to explore between most of the acts. Linda’s hometown acts like a way to take a breath after the rather intense levels, allowing you to explore at your own will and chat with the unusual inhabitants within. It reminds me a little of Shenmue, albeit on a smaller scale, with a handful of side quests to to and colourful residents to interact with. There’s your grumpy chain-smoking landlady, who constantly complains about her residents and rent payment; and the young Professor Mona, who is a keen fanatic on all things supernatural; amongst many others, of course. It’s quite the juxtaposition from the main gameplay, and does a great job at recharging your batteries so that you want to keep on playing to see more. So many horror games have a degree of intensity that force you to stop to take a rest, and DreadOut 2 manages to bypass that feeling entirely.


Despite all this (well-deserved) praise I’ve been giving the game, there are certainly issues that stop it from being as perfect as I feel the game could have been. As alluded to briefly before, the game’s final acts are far more action-oriented and slightly give up the horror element that it provides so well beforehand. It feels like a way to up the stakes before the finale, but it just falls flat. Whilst I personally rather enjoyed the combat for the vast majority of the game, there’s simply not enough depth for it to provide satisfying as you take out an endless stream of foes. And don’t get me started on the lacklustre final boss fight. It’s not exactly tough… it’s just tedious, and makes the game end on a bit of a sour note.

There’s also a bit of an inconsistency when it comes to the visual quality too. Whilst the game does look rather pleasing for the most part – especially as this is a smaller indie project – there are times when the lower budget does seem apparent. Some textures, particularly flowing hair, can seem a little off and there are others that don’t seem to have been textured correctly at all. That final boss fight, for example, started as a shapeless blob for the first couple of minutes, leaving me to wonder what I was supposed to be fighting until it finally took its proper form. These issues usually aren’t a problem, but when that dip in quality does happen, it’s noticeable.

Nevertheless, these issues aren’t big issues given the excellent quality of the game, and I still found myself enamoured by the overall experience. It may lose its way a little bit towards the end, but I found myself missing it after the credits rolled. Hopefully we’ll see a release of the original DreadOut at some point on the Switch, or perhaps even a third game further down the line, as I’m eager to step back into Linda Meillinda’s world.

DreadOut 2 has to be one of the best horror experiences I’ve had in a long time. With a terrifying foreboding atmosphere, and some wonderful creature designs, it had me on the edge of my seat for most of its runtime. It does flounder a little in the late game, which spoils an otherwise amazing experience, but it’s certainly not enough to stop me from wholeheartedly recommending this terrifying title.