Red Barrels' latest isn't one for the faint-hearted.
Developer(s): Red Barrels
Publisher: Red Barrels
Played on: PlayStation 4
Also available on: PC
The games industry has recently taken a downhill stretch as beloved franchises became titles that were more about the gameplay and visuals instead of scares and general horror elements. Last year's latest Dead Spacetitle from the hands of Visceral Games failed to deliver the shock value and jumpscares that the previous two titles had done with such grace. And whilst we've still got incoming frights from the likes of The Evil Within, the games industry still seems very much focused on shooter titles. But thankfully, indie horror Outlast, which comes from the minds of some of gaming's most respected developers, has managed very much so to deliver a chilling experience that gets the scares just right and doesn't drag on for needless amounts of time.
You are Miles Upshurr, a journalist tasked with investigating the defunct Mount Massive Asylum, which catered for some of the most dangerously deranged human beings. It shut down in the 1970s and re-opened in 2009, only to be swiftly brought down again by a mysterious creature known simply as "Project Walrider". It soon becomes clear to you that this thing is no kind creature, as Miles is quickly enveloped in a descent into hell. Armed with your trusty camcorder, Miles must log the most terrifying scenes in the asylum and expose this prescence for what it is. It seems like a fully coherent story at first, but what with the exceptional ways in which the game gets your blood pumping and the many scenes in which you are plunged into complete darkness, it's sometimes easy to forget why you're still in the asylum and not running for your life. But in the game's prime, it is about the exploration of this unique and grim setting, which transpires to be surprisingly vast in scale. There is quite a bit of shifting between tight spaces and crawling under beds to hide from completely crazy patients that haven't yet seeked to escaped from Massive, but every time you engage in a chase, or you creek open a door extremely slowly, the developers find some way of surprising you on every occassion; from a sodden chase in pitch black in the sewers below the asylum, to encountering a necrophiliac patient who is... *ahem* "in the process" of getting it on with a dead body (only then to occuse you of being a creepy weirdo).
In terms of visuals, Outlast has its own way of conveying a grainy, horror movie-style gore fest that only emphasises this when you switch your camcorder to night vision. It's almost like watching a paranormal show where a group of avid supernatural enthusiasts crack out the expensive kit and go for a stroll down dark, dingy corridors. And I've certainly never witnessed anything like it before (though it may have taken a few notes from Fatal Frame, and nobody would blame them), because it truly makes for one immersive experience.
The storyline can greatly fluctuate from "this is an interesting point" to "why do I care for this?" when most of progressing involves getting keys and finding fuses, or starting pumps. This does get a little tedious as you move on, even when the setting changes and you find yourself conflicting with new madmen. But it just about holds together, even with a slightly lackluster ending. But where other games fear to tread, this certainly takes the biscuit. It does what it wants to do - no holding back. And that makes it something special. This could be the rebirth of horror games as we know it, and certainly in modern times. I've never quite seen a horror title like this since the start of the last console era.
Me Love Cars - Founder of Motopedia, Gameopedia, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Wiki, Gran Turismo Wiki and TV and Film Wiki. 18:57, February 6, 2014 (UTC)
Positives + Truly grim and chilling.
Distinct horror elements.
Negatives - An on-and-off story mode.
Lack of varied mission objectives.
A horror title that's well worth playing, even if it's quite simply for the scares.