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Somber Reviews - Outlast (Game)

Updated on March 28, 2015

The Game: Outlast

Outlast is distinctly a survival horror game developed and published by Red Barrels. It was released on September 4, 2013 for Microsoft Windows, and later on February 4, 2014 for the Sony PlayStation 4. It also contains Downloadable content, known as Outlast: Whistleblower.

This indie game had help from Thwacke! and this was a huge help in creating the core environment for Outlast. The company specializes in helping game developers to make games more realistic and immersive.

To add even more depth to the NPC's, Outlast sought out guidance from Maral Tajerian, a PhD in neurosurgery and neurology. She gave the creators several ideas to implement, and many of them were utilized in Outlast, and the DLC.

An image from the start of the game, that camera is your livelihood, keep it well stocked with batteries at all cost.
An image from the start of the game, that camera is your livelihood, keep it well stocked with batteries at all cost.

The Plot

You are a television journalist that gets a tip to check out an asylum. All in all, he gets more than he bargained for. Armed with only his camera, he has to unveil the dirty secrets found within the mental hospital. The occupants have been tried, tested and broken. While there is talk of the female ward, all of the occupants you encounter are male, most of them teetering on the brink of hysteria, or, have already lost it entirely. You'll have to record everything, and hope you can uncover a breaking story.

In the downloadable content, Whistleblower, you play as a computer technician who knows just a little too much. After you're discovered sending an email to the journalist from the base game, you're locked away. Forced to endure the ciaos that has befallen the mental institution, you have to find a way to make it out alive, if you can.

This game is decidedly survival horror, and as such, you can expect to see extreme violence and gore. The fact of the matter is, there is plenty of gruesome imagery, earning the game an M rating by the ESRB with flying colors. In fact, it gets pretty downright sickening at times, but, that's part of the fun of the survival horror genera.

It is also explicit in other ways, such as full-frontal male nudity, and crass language.

Game Play

First and foremost, there is no combat in this game whatsoever.

Outlast is a first-person game. The only thing you have at your disposal is your camera, which allows for night vision. This game requires stealth, and often you'll find yourself hiding. You have a few choices usually, such as inside of lockers, or under beds and desks. As such, it's pretty safe to say that the biggest concern is not getting caught. Keeping yourself well stocked with camera batteries, and uncovering the sordid tale is the premise of the game.

If they run out, so does your night vision on the camera.

There is no hard health system of which to speak, only a red outline around the screen once you're injured. To recover health, you must simply avoid the enemy and hide. Eventually, you'll reach full health again.

Murkoff, the corporation that you must discover the gritty details about.
Murkoff, the corporation that you must discover the gritty details about.

You might like this game if:

  • You enjoy M rated works by the ESRB.
  • You don't mind extreme violence and gore.
  • You enjoy games that don't allow for combat.
  • You enjoy survival horror games.

Somber Reviews

Due to the nature of this game, and the heal system it uses, you can guess that the scares come early and often, with plenty of different ways to get you to jump out of your skin. Also, some of them are easy to miss during the first play through, and that gives you the incentive to play a second or third time. The game is dark, gritty, and horrifyingly not for the faint of heart. If the thought of mutilation irks you, I'd avoid this game at all cost.

I would say that the storyline is fairly linear, but, it isn't unnaturally confining. My only complaint with the game is that tasks usually come in three's. If you must get one of something, it will often take three of something else. While this is a solid tactic in many respects, it also adds a level of predictability that can't go ignored. The saving grace is that mundane actions aren't left peaceful for very long before something goes terribly awry. The game's intensity increases tenfold when someone runs amok.

It's not always an adrenaline rush however. There's a good handful of downtime where the eerie, and often gore filled atmosphere is enough to leave you uneasy, even before the baddies come out of hiding. As far as unsettling imagery, the game doesn't disappoint.

The game is long enough to be satisfying without being too long, which is nice. I would say that it balances it's storyline very well with it's game play. The notes that a player picks up along the way serve to flesh out what would otherwise be a rather twisted and demented view of what happened.

My only real complaint, is that it is simply a horror game. It does it's job and toys with the mind beautifully, but, that seems all that it is intent on doing. There comes a time, unfortunately, when it gets to be too grungy, too raw, for my tastes.

Then again, this game plays much closer to psychological horror genera, rather than zombie filled masses polluting the streets. Under that qualifier, this game hits the nail squarely on the head.

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Final Verdict

It's good, no doubts there at all.

would I say it's amazing? No, because quite frankly, when compared to other indie games of its type, this one is simply not the best of the best...however, it most certainly isn't the worst. This type of horror game will likely appeal much more to people who don't like having a way to defend themselves. This game uses helplessness as a central game play mechanic, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it's also nothing new, either.

As with all of my reviews, based on a score of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest possible score, and ten being the highest, Outlast earns a score of 7.5. That's respectable, considering the game is simply that.

Respectable and worth a play if you like gory survival horror games.


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