“What was that? I could have sworn I saw something. Oh God, hide! Don’t find me, please don’t find me!” Does this sound like your type of horror game? Then look no further because Outlast is the game for you!
Imagine this. You’re a journalist named Miles Upshur who decides to investigate an abandoned hospital for the mentally ill called Mount Massive Asylum, a place where a true nightmare awaits. Wait, did I say the asylum was abandoned? Think again.
In first person, you arrive at the gates of the asylum and enter the building through an open window…then the lights go out. You are only equipped with a video camera and two batteries which are to be used wisely. Through the first ten minutes of the game, you will have already seen one of many experimented, mutated patients and already flinched, jumped or even screamed more than twice.
The storyline is simple; find out the truth and escape, but it’s not so easy. Throughout your nightmare you must collect batteries in order to use the camera’s night vision which will guide you through dark, eerie corridors, sewers, vents, rooms and outdoor areas. But be careful when using night vision mode as it drains the batteries so it’s best to use them when needed, otherwise you will be left in the darkness—the abyss.
It isn’t essential, but it’s good to use the camera without night vision and film things that catch your attention—whether it’s words written in blood on the walls, a pile of dead bodies or an event. The reason for this is because Miles will note these in his journal and allow you to understand his feelings and beliefs. Another thing to look out for are confidential files. The files provide more of a background story of what happened to some of the patients and how the asylum worked. Again, it isn’t necessary, but it’s interesting and informative. You even learn a bit more about a patient named Chris Walker who is the first encounter you have at the beginning of the game.
Walker is one of the main Variants—mutated patients who have been experimented on—you see a lot throughout the game. Known as ‘the big guy’, Walker will appear in certain areas where you will play rounds of cat and mouse, and if he catches you, say goodbye to your head! Miles—for some reason I will never understand—never acquires a weapon so the game has only three options: run, hide or die. I must admit, whether you’re running or hiding, you will always be on edge and having no weapons makes the game even more terrifying. Even after a minute of hiding, my heart was beating against my ribs and I found myself questioning my next move. “Is it safe yet?” Famous last words.
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On a more serious note, the story itself is interesting and the questions and suspicions that arise throughout the game, such as “who or what is Walrider?” and “what the hell happened in this place?” kept me hooked. Overall I was satisfied with the smooth gameplay, the high quality graphics and its twisted story, and the ending was a true horror ending which I enjoyed. Red Barrels did a great job. There were a few downsides, however, but note that what I mention are personal opinions and preferences which will differ for each person’s liking.
After an hour of gameplay I felt the game got a little bit too repetitive when it came to hiding and activating something in order to progress to a new area. Adding puzzles to unlock certain doors and hidden truths about the asylum would have worked well and would have kept me more entertained instead of repeating similar objectives. And lastly, I expected Walrider to be a scary, demonic entity, but was left a little disappointed. I was more afraid of Chris Walker and crazy Doctor Trager than Walrider which made the final objective a little dissatisfying.
Nonetheless, Outlast is a definite winner in the horror games category this year. Is it as scary as a lot of people make it out to be? In all honesty, it had its moments of jump scares, but it’s not so scary that it’s unplayable. It’s definitely a game that has finally done something right that other horror games have failed to do for me which is to get my heart racing and adrenalin rushing. In saying that, I rate Outlast an 8/10 and highly recommend it to horror fans. And if you want the true experience, play it in the dark…if you dare.