With the release of Outlast 2, AAA first-person horror games set in the US' rural South are becoming their own genre. It and Resident Evil 7 have a lot in common: You play as a white man with a Northern accent, you're searching for your wife, and there's a ton of gross body horror.
I haven't finished watching the soft-spoken ManlyBadassHero's Let's Play of Outlast 2 yet (content note: "Game is Very Graphic In Every Way Possible"). But while RE7 just squicked me out, Outlast 2 genuinely disturbs me. I think that's because RE7 left out the biggest thing that makes the white, rural South terrifying: Their fiery brand of religion.
Let's not mince words here; it deals with a sex cult. One that uses convincing King James style language in its homemade scriptures, and broadcasts screaming jeremiads over its loudspeakers, warning of outsiders and of the sexually impure. And as wild a survival horror setting as that is, it feels much truer to life than RE7's rural Louisiana homestead ... at least, it does to me, after having my life mostly ruined by people like this.
To be fair, both games are extremely problematic. On top of the tired "playing a guy looking for his wife" trope, they have you play as an outsider, looking in on these caricatures of rural Southerners. It's othering them, and that's dangerous in the case of Outlast 2. Because there are plenty of real people like this, and if you live in the South you brush shoulders with them at Walmart, pretend you don't recognize them at strip clubs, and wait on them at restaurants. (They're lousy tippers.)
The point is, a lot of modern society is an extension of real-life cult practices. We're a rape culture, an abuse culture, a culture that venerates parents and ministers. A culture that hates Islam, but lets homegrown ayatollahs get away with the literal murder of children, while country militias practice and train for the time when the government comes for them.
Which it never will.
The fact that these people aren't really the Other is what scares me the most about them. But then, as someone who's spent most of her life now in the South, raised and surrounded by them and barely able to escape them, the fact that I'm invisible to the makers of these games is what scares me the most about them.
Wake me when there's a survival horror game set in a Christian or Mormon "troubled teen" camp. I've thankfully never been to one, but it'd be the perfect setting.