Ghostly terrors and spooky shenanigans abound in Dreadout 2. It’s set directly after the events of the first game, as our hero Linda finds herself trying to go back to some semblance of normal life – but the events that transpired aren’t just going to sink into the background.
After some students, who blame Linda for the deaths of their classmates and teacher, perform a dark ritual as a practical joke, Linda is thrown back into a supernatural nightmare that just might be the past reaching into the future. It seems once paranormal forces knows you exist, there’s no escaping the darkness.
Dreadout 2, from developers Digital Happiness, is a survival-horror adventure set in Indonesia and, as such, draws its inspiration from the country’s urban legends and myths. Ghosts and guardians, monsters and ghouls, and a plethora of urban legends are yours to discover, puzzle through, and hopefully survive.
Dreadout 2 gameplay seems inpired by many titans of the genre. Part Silent Hill, part Outlast or Amnesia, and a whole heap of Fatal Frame (or Project Zero depending on your region) it takes the most prominent mechanics and manages to make them its own. The core mechanics from the first game make a return, while the developers have included a few new elements to expand and bulk up the gameplay experience.
The core gameplay loop revolves around investigating and surviving spooky environments using Linda’s trusty smartphone. She has the ability to see ghastly spectres around her through the camera lens and, as with Fatal Frame, she can stun enemies using the flash and damage them by taking charged-up photos. New to the sequel – though during only specific encounters – is Linda’s ability to fight back using melee weapons. You can go in swinging but, if you stun them with the camera first, you can trigger a high damage finisher.
To add variety, the developers change up what you can do in specific encounters. In some, your phone is useless; in others, you have to fight back; while in a few you have to use the environment to hide and sneak past enemies. It goes a long way towards keeping the gameplay loop fresh and interesting, as you’re not entirely sure what to expect next.
As in Silent Hill, Linda can flip between two versions of the world: the normal one and a spooky, gore and corpse-filled one. This only happens at specific points in the story, usually where the otherworld adds a layer of creepiness to a level or to help you navigate the environment, so it’s not a mechanic used as much as it could have been. It’s a nice one nonetheless, adding to the creepiness factor and a few narrative beats – such as when a blood-spattered Linda steps through a door in the otherworld only to find herself in a full classroom in the real one.
The final new addition is a small hub area for you to explore and pick up simple side-quests that range from hunting down urban legends to joining a ghost-hunting group.
Visually, Dreadout 2 is certainly one of the better uses of Unreal Engine 4 on the Nintendo Switch, at least where environments and performance are concerned. Most of the game’s architecture looks fantastic and the game runs quite well. There is dynamic resolution in play, so you will see resolution drops in more complex areas, such as the hub. Character models are, for the most part, well done, specifically for Linda and the ghosts. Unfortunately, most NPC’s tend to suffer from lower polygon models and textures and, in contrast to other versions, you have to accept obvious asset downgrades to bring the game to the Switch.
Dreadout 2 does have more glaring issues though, which highlight its lower-budget, indie status. There’s a level of jank to the controls and animations, which can be both immersion-breaking and sometimes a little frustrating when being chased. Certain art assets and locations have also clearly received less attention to them.
Examples of control issues include how even with a dedicated run button, Linda moves too slowly for my taste – a big issue in combat when later bosses are much faster than you. This issue is then compounded by the lack of a dodge button, which makes combat more frustrating than it needs to be. You see, stun-locking is a big mechanic that can work both for and against the player, and some bosses can trigger a combination of stun-lock animations you can’t break out of until you die.
Now that said, apart from a late boss and one stealth sequence, Dreadout 2 is very much on the easy side. Linda can take a ton of damage and it was very rare that I felt the need to be afraid of the various ghouls on my tail. The use of music and atmosphere manages to create a compelling and spooky environment, but the game itself isn’t particularly scary. Now that might be a deal breaker if you’re looking for a high dose of horror in your games, but for me, it didn’t stop Dreadout 2 being a fun and engaging experience.
So even with its flaws and the occasional presentation issues, Dreadout 2 is a mostly good-looking and fun game to play on the Nintendo Switch. There are enough mechanical changes to keep the sequel fresh throughout its brisk runtime, while the Indonesian myths and urban legends add some serious and fresh flavour to the phantasmagorical proceedings. It may not be scary or overtly challenging, but it was a delightfully entertaining romp all the same.
Dreadout 2 was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher. It is also available on PC, Xbox One/Series S|X, and PS4/PS5.
Dreadout 2 (Nintendo Switch) ReviewDreadout 2 (Nintendo Switch) Review
- Fatal Frame + Silent Hill = total win
- We need more Indonesian myths and urban legends
- Fun gameplay
- Good environment design
- Might not be scary enough for some
- Janky and wonky animations
- Dynamic resolution on the Nintendo Switch can make some areas look rough