Outlast was produced and developed by Red Barrels Studio, whose last know title was…Outlast. Yes, they have only created one game, but that is okay because the one game they have made is absolutely fantastic (except for the ending).
I love horror games like Amnesia, and SCP Containment Breach. I love feeling helpless while playing a game, like I am stuck in a situation that is quickly spiraling out of control; and that is what this Outlast does. No game has ever scared me so bad, to a point that I started tearing up, and closing my eyes every time I walk through a door.
In Outlast, you play through the eyes of Miles Upshur, “whose ambition is to earn him an intimate tour of hell on earth”, as quoted from the prologue of the game. Miles arrives at the Mount Massive (creative…) Asylum, when he gets an anonymous tip that there are some strange goings-on in the “abandoned” building.
And boy, are there some strange goings-on; moments after arriving and realizing the door is locked, you notice movement in an open window, so obviously the only sensible thing to do, is to climb up the conveniently placed debris, and enter through the window. Using the camera equipped with night vision that you brought with you, you can make your way through a room full of mutilated bodies, (you’d think that is when you would be intelligent and leave, but apparently not) and down through a lit hallway into the bowels of what will soon be the most terrifying place you have ever seen.
Most of the game is viewed through the aforementioned camera, as nearly the entire Asylum is submersed in darkness. The camera idea sounds interesting, but can quickly become annoying if you don’t make sure to collect some of the batteries hidden in dark corners, or sometimes in plain sight. Speaking of collecting things, you can find documents explaining the backgrounds of the Asylum and some of the patients you will encounter. I didn’t collect many of these documents and there were a lot that I missed, so what little bit I did find left me to not understand the last hour or so of the game (in short, make sure to find these documents or the game will get confusing very fast).
There are several enemies (which you cannot dispel because Miles is too dumb to pick up a knife and fight back) which make it their day job to pursue you through the majority of the game. I am not going to elaborate on any of these pursuers because it will spoil some of the fun of discovery, however I will say this about one of them: He is one of the scariest things I have ever encountered in a game, and wish to never see another thing like him again.
As I stated earlier, never before has a game made me tear up it scared me so bad. The game is filled to the brim with subtle spooks and pop up scares, coupled with terrifying music and disturbing environment with a horrifying backstory- take all of this together and you have what is the perfect horror game. However, if you force in constant treks to find valves, switches, fuses, etc. you begin to ruin the formula; and this is where Outlast begins to stumble.
Many, many times throughout the game you will find a door or elevator that won’t open or work until you find ‘X’ of a specific item. During these little quests you will, more often than not, be pursued by one of the previously mentioned creatures or killers.
After so long, it gets to be more frustrating than fun and actually gets to be a nuisance during the game’s extremely drawn out ending sequence. A sequence which, by the way, leads me to my biggest complaint about the game: the ending.
You would think that such a fantastic story and (mostly) godlike horror game would end on an explosive note (don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything). However, you would be wrong. The ending is unfulfilling and ruined much of my experience of the game. I was so angry when I finished Outlast, that I went to bed easily and unafraid, which is not what I would expect from a horror game, especially one as good as Outlast.
Despite it’s awful ending, there were so many positive things about Outlast that it cannot be easily overlooked… to horror gamers anyway.
Anyone with a light stomach may not be able to handle the gratuitous amounts of blood and gore, disturbing characters and setting, and extreme violence. Outlast leans more towards hardcore fans of horror movies, and games in that way. If you don’t play horror games, and would like to get your feet wet, do not play Outlast, play sometime milder, like Amnesia. However, if you just want to get your pants wet, then by all means play Outlast- but be wary of it’s mature content.
Side Note:Also, at the time of this review, if you are a Playstation Plus member, you can get this game for free.