Reversed Outlast 2 audio reveals a disturbing message
Outlast 2 story spoilers ahead!
It's clear by now that Outlast 2's narrative holds secrets around nearly every corner, from hidden towers and ambiguous childbirth, to hallucinations large and small. We've covered most of what we know about the game's story so far, including important information found in the associated comic books and even a Tumblr account. Yet one of the recently discovered secrets is actually a simple puzzle hidden within Outlast 2's in game recordings.
When Blake is going through his guilt-ridden hallucinations regarding Jessica (in the game's school scenes) the player occasionally has an opportunity to stop and record some of the crazier events that rip through Blake's psyche. But when you attempt to review the footage at a later date your video evidence of creepy hallways or toilets full of blood is nothing but static and gibberish.
The Murkoff Effect
So what's the deal? Well, if you remember the cryptic message Red Barrels used to originally tease Outlast 2, then you'll remember that they love to take audio and reverse it to conceal hidden messages. In the case of the original trailer we got to listen to a delightful passage from the bible read by none other than Papa Knoth himself, except it was also gibberish, which only became a bible passage when played in reverse.
For these cryptic static recordings, we get a chance to see this trick at work once again.
To capture the footage we recorded each of the in game static recordings, beginning from the last one in the sequence to the first. We chose to begin at the end so to speak, because Blake comments several times in game that the events in his hallucinations feel like they're occurring in reverse order, so if we wanted to get the correct chronology we figured we should started there. This sequencing is supported by a comment Red Barrels co-founder Philippe Morin made in our recent interview with him, in which he referenced the film Memento.
Once captured, we tossed the clip in a video editing program and reversed the footage.
After a bit of trimming, we ended up with a short haunting monologue with a uniquely creepy setting.
The voice appears to the abusive priest Father Loutermilch (or potentialy Blake himself, though it's hard to tell), and there's no denying that the subject matter is concerning Loutermilch's obsession with Jessica.
You can watch our clip of the footage here. Also notice that what looks originally like a flickering skull in the static is actually the Murkoff company logo, which would seem to confirm that Murkoff is behind the hallucinations.
Disturbingly, the footage itself gives us a chance to see into Loutermilch's sick internal struggle through what appears to be a confession. The speaker also thanks God for killing Jessica.
As the audio continues things only get more disturbing, Loutermilch seems to be justifying his actions out of some twisted idea concerning the connection between music and love, and his responsibility as a teacher. He then seems to thank God again for taking away the temptation, but at this point things get much angrier, and then almost seamlessly transition into what might be a conversation between Blake and Loutermilch. There's certainly anger, and a discussion about the way Blake keeps the secret of Jessica's death.
As we've come to expect with everything concerning Outlast 2's secret agenda, it's really not entirely clear. But it still gives us more insight into both Blake's own internal struggle and the potential effects of the Morphogenic Engine as a whole on human and technology alike.
For starters, although the monologue sounds like it comes directly from Loutermilch, it's more likely that it's Blake repeating back a dialogue that he subconsciously created to represent Loutermilch while he's wandering around in the real world. Otherwise the source of the audio would have to have come directly from Blake's memory and somehow burned itself into the audio files. That isn't outside the realm of possibility (it's hard to define the limits of what is possible in a game like Outlast 2), but it's much less likely than the mic picking up Blake's voice during one of his hallucinations. The fact that the voice sounds like Loutermilch to Blake (and to players hearing it through Blake's ears) would then be a result of Blake's unstable psyche.
It's also possible that these thoughts were somehow shared with Blake back when he was a child, maybe through a conversation or prayer alongside Loutermilch, and that he's simply repeating the words out of some lost vault inside his mind.
Yet what might be most interesting is that the static footage itself was likely a result of interference from whatever version of the Morphogenic Engine Murkoff is broadcasting through the valley.
Presumably while inside a vision or hallucination anything that Blake recorded would come through as his actual location in the real world. Instead we have static, which indicates that the Morphogenic Engine is probably the cause, somehow disrupting the way Blake's camera records while the much more powerful signal signified by the flash of light is active.
Strangely the microphone is not similarly effected, which could tell us that the Engine's signal is somewhere above or below the range the microphone can pick up. This could indicate that the M.E. is something beyond an auditory stimulus, potentially a combination of multiple stimuli, or a signal that directly manipulates brain chemistry rather than manipulating the human psyche with auditory responses.
This signal has some kind of effect on technology, as evidenced by the lost footage Blake records, and could potentially explain the way Lynn and Blake's helicopter goes down at the beginning of the game. Fan theories have assumed that it went down as a result of some kind of EMP, but this could indicate that the Morphogenic Engine could be the root cause of the problem.
With that in mind, Blake and Lynn's crash landing probably wasn't part of Murkoff's grand plan, but was instead an unfortunate accident that landed two innocent journalists in the center of the worst possible melting pot of crazy.
UPDATE: Here's a transcript of the audio recording, as best as we are able to make sense of it:
Dear lord sweet jesus, forgive my sins, and accept my gratitude.
Thank you god, for killing the child. You removed the temptation beyond what the flesh you made was able to resist.
I am weak, you are strong for me, and generous, you gave me life, you gave me talent.
The gift of music, and not the mavicks(malice? 0:32), and love. Those fleeting moments, where the Enemy Sarrous(scare us? stare us? Pharaohs? 0:37) which (witch?) music lack become the same thing.
You have shown my face with the children (Potentially also. “truth of it,” phrase seems to change when you slow it down, possible an intentional double phonetic, 0:44).
Will we be able to turn my many talents into glory? (Another possible interpretation is, “Will we be able to deal with my memories? How un sleet of her, to glory?” Extremely difficult to tell if it's one word or multiple, another language, or some kind of additional code. Again, the audio seems to change when you slow it down here, context only coming from the pieces. 0:47)
Who will share in your loving craft to adulthood? Those moments when a child learns those things that everybody else already knows but doesn't talk about.
So ripe with possibility, so resilient, smile, flirting, never even wield the power she had.
And you killed her. You saw what she was. You knew that he rested on her shoulders. As much as on my own. You took her, when I could not.
And I never told a soul, I kept your secret. Our secret. Thank you. Thank you. I never told a soul. I never told a soul of her suicide. Watching over the others except for the tragedy of her murder.
For more on the secrets hiding in Outlast 2, read our full story breakdown.