Red BarrelsDeveloped By:
M for Mature (Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Sexual Content, Nudity, Strong Language)Release Date:
February 4, 2014Screenshots: LinkPlayStation Network: Buy NowWritten By:
Matthew PruntyJune 1, 2014
- Next to RPGs, survival horror is one of the most full-filling genres in video games. Besides engaging you within the context of the story, you are also treated to an emotional experience that has no equal. While each developer has their own unique approach to the genre; when done right, you are wrapped up in the experience from beginning to end. Case in point with Outlast, one of the latest entry’s within the survival horror genre. While you can complete this title in as little as 4-5 hours, it’s the totality of the experience that makes it truly memorable.
Outlast places you in the shoes of Miles Upshur, a journalist chasing down a mysterious lead. In a similar vein to games like Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill, Miles isn’t your typical hero. Armed with his trusty HD camcorder and his reporter’s intuition, Miles sets out to uncover the truth about what took place at Mount Massive Asylum and why he was sent that anonymous email. While exploring the institution you will be doing a lot of running, hiding and of course… dying all in hopes of “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel”.
Before your experience can begin in Outlast, you must first set the mood. While you can still enjoy this game playing it during the day time, I found this game to be more enjoyable at night. It took me several days in order to complete Outlast. Part of the reason is because I only played the game at night, alone with the lights off and the sound cranked up on my sound system. This allowed me to be immersed in the experience, leaving me vulnerable to all the weird sounds and jumps this game is sure to give you.
The opening segment of the game introduces you to the gameplay mechanics of Outlast. Upon arriving at Mount Massive Asylum, Miles must find a way into the seemingly deserted institution to find any truth to the email’s claims. Upon gaining access to the building through a second story window, you are introduced to the night vision mode on your camcorder. This mode will be your saving grace throughout the game as the institution is littered with dark rooms. While exploring the place, you are given the option to always have your camcorder out recording everything you see or you can have it tucked away in your pocket, only pulling it out when you actually need it. The only time you have to worry about your battery dying is when you are using the night vision mode. Like ammo is in Resident Evil, batteries are a scarcity in Outlast. The harder the difficulty level, the fewer batteries you will be able to locate within the game.
Between keeping an eye on the battery life of the camcorder, hunting for more batteries, exploring the halls of the institution looking for evidence and trying to keep an eye on your surroundings; your attention is severely divided and it’s this that developer Red Barrels uses to exploit you visually and emotionally. Lingering too long in one spot or taking a double look at what looks like a dead corpse will leave you open to be attacked from any and all directions. You are taught to help those less fortunate than you… in Outlast, that doesn’t apply. You see someone in a wheelchair, either go in the opposite direction or make a run for it. 9 out of 10 times, that person in the wheelchair will attack you and it’s done in a subtle way.
The halls of Mount Massive Asylum are littered with both corpses of the living and the dead. Some are friends and some clearly enemies. What’s interesting is that you can’t truly trust everyone as they all have their own agenda. What gives you this impression is the ambiance of the locale. The locale is dark, dank with blood, desolate and every other ‘D’ word you can come up with. The presentation almost seems lifelike in a sort of morbid way. The world of Mount Massive Asylum is very much an intricate character that is only fully realized once explored and its secrets unraveled by Miles. There are also subtle visual cues that work alongside the game; courtesy of the DualShock 4 controller. The lightbar changes colors in response to what’s going on in the game; white for normal camera mode, green when using night vision, and the lightbar will flicker in response to the batteries dying.
The audio score is one of the best composed for a survival horror game in over a decade. Not since the days of Resident Evil have the audio score have an impact on my emotions to the point that I’m weary of what’s around every corner and whether I should progress down a certain path or backtrack to find another route. Couple this with subtle sound affects like Mile’s breathing, chains clanging in the background, rushing water and random footsteps muffled in the background, Outlast engages players on all levels. On so many levels you will find yourself in the same emotional state as Miles when he’s fleeing an enemy, wondering around in the dark without any batteries for your camcorder or even when playing hide ‘n seek.
Like I mentioned before, Outlast is an experience that can be completed within 4-5 hours; longer if you want to discover everything humanly possible within the game. The latter third of the game is a bit on the repetitive side, but it’s nothing that will detract from the overall experience. Outside of completing the game on a harder difficulty level, this experience doesn’t have much by way of replayability. I will admit, for those tempting to experience outlast on the ‘Insane’ difficulty, keep in mind that you only have one life, no checkpoints and an entire insane asylum gunning for you. There is a DLC pack “Whistleblower” that has recently released, which adds to the overall experience.
Overall – While this experience is not as long as some of the great experiences brought to us by AAA first, second and third-party developers, Red Barrels has crafted a truly engaging experience that best some many of those games. The idea of feeling helpless and only having your whit to guide you through the struggle, brings a since realism to the experience and attachment for the character. Outlast is a truly mesmerizing experience and I look forward to what the developer has in store for us in the future. Hopefully a sequel will spawn out of this smash hit.9/
10Review Copy Provided By Publisher
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