DreadOut 2 Review

Every culture has its brand of raw and writhing fear-meat. Japanese horror cuts deep with psychological terror and ghosts clinging to your soul like psychic barnacles. Silent Hill and Fatal Frame are the big names that every gamer associates with horror from Japan, but Indonesia?

Ask any square on the street about J-horror media and they’ll rattle off the usual suspects like a malfunctioning jukebox. Ask them about Indonesian horror media and expect to get long blank stares. In the shadows stirred Digital Happiness, a small Indonesian developer that made DreadOut. The first game was PC-only, but the sequel made it onto consoles.

DreadOut 2 could have been an edgier, cooler, punk-rock alternative to Fatal Frame. Regretfully, this was an idea that sounded awesome on paper but the execution was hopelessly bungled. What went wrong? Find out in this DreadOut 2 review!

DreadOut 2
Developer: Digital Happiness,
Publisher: Digital Happiness
, Softsource Publishing
Platforms:  Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: February 21, 2020
Price: $19.99 USD

Building upon the foundation established in DreadOut, the Indonesian-developed survival horror title DreadOut 2 expands its narrative scope while deepening its engagement with local folklore and contemporary anxieties. We are again thrust into the provincial Indonesian setting where a high school student whose latent spiritual abilities are awakened.

Ostracized by her peers, she navigates a chilling reality where she can perceive and interact with the paranormal. Unlike the damsels in distress of classic horror games like Fatal Frame, Linda wields her smartphone as a weapon against the spectral threats that plague her.

Her smartphone isn’t like the Camera Obscura. It’s an average everyday smartphone and through it she channels her power to exorcise malevolent spirits, drawing inspiration from terrifying figures of Indonesian folklore such as the Kuntilanak, a vengeful female spirit known for its elongated, deadly fingers.

DreadOut 2 introduces an innovative gameplay shift by including corporeal enemies, represented by zombie-like creatures. In these tense encounters, Linda’s spiritual arsenal proves ineffective, forcing her to resort to a more brutal approach. Armed with a fire axe, expect to clumsily dispatch these enemies, highlighting the desperate and grounded nature of her struggle.

This duality in combat mechanics reflects the game’s broader thematic exploration. DreadOut 2 melds together traditional folklore with contemporary anxieties surrounding technology and social isolation. Linda’s smartphone, a ubiquitous symbol of modern life, becomes a conduit for both empowerment and vulnerability in the face of the supernatural.

Through its unsettling blend of folklore, psychological horror, and contemporary social commentary, DreadOut 2 carves a unique niche within the survival horror genre, offering a thrilling and culturally significant experience… and yet it is unbelievably insufferable to play.

DreadOut 2 tries hard to leverage its Indonesian setting and unique horror elements, but it ultimately suffers from a lack of polish and hopelessly sloppy gameplay mechanics. Despite glimmers of ambition and cultural flavor, the game fails to fully capitalize on its potential, resulting in an unpolished and ultimately disappointing experience.

The inclusion of non-horror segments showcasing Linda’s everyday life is a novel and promising concept. These moments aim to offer a richer portrayal of the game’s setting and immerse players in the provincial region of Indonesia. However, the execution falls short. These sections remain frustratingly rushed and unfinished, lacking detail, depth, and meaningful interaction.

The abrupt shifts between voice acting, text, and untranslated Indonesian dialogue further disrupt the experience. The lack of flavor text fails to delve into Linda’s internal world, leaving her emotional state unexplored.

The environmental design mirrors these shortcomings. Peaceful daytime segments feel empty and unconvincing – like a half-assed movie set as opposed to a lived-in world. It’s like a town in Shenmue frozen in time but without any points of interest or minutia.

There are a lot of NPCs, but the majority of them have nothing of value to say and Linda can’t interact with them in any meaningful capacity. There are some side quests but they are merely repetitive errands that serve only to pad out the gameplay, further exacerbating the feeling of unfulfilled potential.

DreadOut 2 demonstrates a desire to push boundaries and present a culturally distinct horror experience. Its technical shortcomings and underdeveloped gameplay mechanics ultimately hinder its ability to deliver on its promise. The aforementioned spirit photography for example: barely works as intended and has a strict margin of error.

Linda’s exploration of spectral phenomena within nightmares presents a distinct experience characterized by suspense and dread. This streamlined survival-horror module intentionally minimizes extraneous mechanics such as inventory management and resource depletion, allowing players to concentrate solely on navigating nightmarish labyrinths, uncovering hidden keys, and sneaking around a deranged killer.

Linda’s camera is her primary mode of offense against spirits, its effectiveness is contingent upon precise timing and alignment, creating a frustrating vulnerability that persists throughout encounters. This is particularly troublesome when confronting phantoms that possess the ability to clip through level geometry within confined spaces.

Further compounding the challenge is the camera’s delayed shutter speed, leading to unfair deaths where seemingly well-timed shots fail to register due to the game’s unclear hitboxes. The lack of a reticle to aid in precise aiming against fast-moving phantoms further exacerbates this issue, resulting in a tedious loop of getting sucker punched since Linda lacks evasive mobility.

At several points in the narrative, Linda will be forced into melee combat with zombie-like abominations. Regretfully, the melee lacks any sense of precision and effectiveness, leaving players frustrated with sluggish and unpredictable axe swings. The absence of a lock-on mechanic further exacerbates the issue, forcing players to exploit a cheap stun-and-run tactic, particularly evident in the poorly designed final boss encounter.

The atmosphere in DreadOut 2 fluctuates wildly, often veering into campy territory reminiscent of cheesy schlock rather than genuine horror. While occasional moments of effective scares might raise eyebrows, they are fleeting and fail to sustain an unsettling mood. This inconsistency is further compounded by the game’s uncanny visuals and awkward animations, which, while occasionally uncanny, often veer into unintentional comedy.

Despite utilizing the Unreal Engine 4, DreadOut 2 fails to impress visually. The graphics appear dated, reminiscent of early 2010s indie titles. The performance is stable on PlayStation 5 as expected but is marred by pop-in and occasional crashes. There is also a persistent bug that disables lighting effects when using the smartphone camera in the first person and also cuts the frame rate in half.

Thankfully, Linda’s character model is appealing and she looks pretty cute most of the time. The developers seemingly understood this and were proud of her as evident by the frequent low angles of her. She wears a very short skirt and there are lots of nice shots of her thighs. Even foot-freaks will be pleased by how she ends up barefoot too.

With low expectations, DreadOut 2 will disappoint those looking for an amusing cheap thrill. The complete disregard for I-frames and unbearable stun-locking pushes players to play with cheap and boring tactics to win by sheer attrition.

This is a barren horror game that feels like it is barely clinging to its life and is held together with cheap tape. It’s utterly lacking in features and the gameplay is simplistic… when it works. When you’re not bored or desperately scraping for something to do, expect to be frustrated by the ill-conceived photography and melee systems.

DreadOut 2 was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a copy purchased by Nichegamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. DreadOut 2 is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

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The Verdict: 3

The Good

  • Linda is pretty sexy
  • Cool creature designs
  • The idea was ambitious and you can almost see what the developers were going for
  • Moments of palpable atmosphere

The Bad

  • Frame rate goes to 30fps with smartphone camera aimed and lighting effects turn off
  • The day-time sequences are completely devoid of substance
  • Horrendous melee combat sequences and getting stun-locked
  • Little to no replay value
  • Shoe-string budget presentation, questionable game design, and lacking polish


A youth destined for damnation.

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