Update: It looks like the Australian government has reversed their decision. See our follow-up story for details.
Original story: Outlast 2 has been refused a rating by the Australian Classification Board because of a scene depicting sexual violence. Without a rating, the game cannot be sold in that country.
The original Outlast, which was released on Windows PC in 2013. The asylum-based horror game reviewed well, including here at Polygon. The sequel takes place in Arizona and includes the original’s camcorder-based night vision feature. Players take on the role of Blake Langerman who, along with his wife, Lynn, are investigating the murder of a pregnant woman.
From our preview at last year’s PAX East:
On the surface, Outlast 2 is about finding your wife. It's almost certainly about uncovering the mystery of the misery in the Arizona desert. It's also about staying alive, because this farm from hell isn't deserted. But above all other things and like its predecessor, Outlast 2 is about surviving while terrified.
Kotaku Australia pressed its country’s rating board for more details on why the game was denied classification, and received the following documentation.
The following contains spoilers for Outlast 2, as well content that is NSFW.
In one cut-scene in the game ... a female creature prepares Blake for a ritual. She says, "I want to see your true face. Your seed will burn this world." Shortly afterwards, he objects to having psycho-active dust blown into his face, yelling, "Nope! Nope!" before he stumbles into a forest clearing.
His vision blurring, he witnesses what appears to a ritualistic orgy. His wife, Lynn, calls out for his help, saying, "It hurts! Oh god!," as she hangs from chains on a raised platform at the front of the clearing. Humanoid creatures, their skin grey, spattered with blood and scarred, implicitly have sex as others pray, or chant, or gesticulate.
One creature has another bent over a rock, thrusting as they implicitly have rear-entry sex, another sits astride the pelvic region of a creature prone on the ground, moving their hips rhythmically as they too implicitly have sex. Two other pairs of creatures in the clearing are also implicitly having sex.
As Blake yells for the creatures to "Get away from her!" a female creature, her greyish breasts bared, pushes him onto his back, holds his arms to the ground and repeatedly thrusts her crotch against him. As Blake protests, saying "No! Stop that!" the creature thrusts again, before placing its face over his midsection and then sitting up and wiping its mouth.
Although much of the contact between the creature and Blake is obscured, by it taking place below screen, the sexualised surroundings and aggressive behaviour of the creature suggest that it is an assault which is sexual in nature. The Board is of the opinion that this, combined with Blake's objections and distress, constitutes a depiction of implied sexual violence.
The Board did say that it would reconsider the game if these scenes were removed. Polygon has reached out to Red Barrels for comment.
Outlast 2 was originally expected to launch last year, but in August it was delayed into the first quarter of 2017. The game is slated for Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.