Halloween has been and gone, but don’t despair, this week I’m celebrating all things horror as we delve into the dark world of Outlast.
Developed and published by Red Barrels, Outlast is a first person horror survival game that puts you in the shoes of Miles Upshur, a reporter whose main purpose in life is to own the world’s most unreliable video camera. As the game begins, it quickly becomes clear what sort of experience lies ahead.
The setting appears as if hand-picked from a cliché horror novel, and just in case Mount Massive Asylum needed to look any creepier, Upshur is the kind of journalist that likes to do his reporting in the dead of night (I’m sure nothing can go wrong there). As you enter the Asylum it’s no surprise then that you’re not there to find a story on sunshine and lollipops. Between dead SWAT team officers and psychiatric patients, the narrative offers plenty in the way of horror.
What the game particularly does well however is jump scares, and the constant threat that the next one might be right around the corner. I consider myself normally quite hardened to horror films and games alike, but there’s something about a group of homicidal patients in an eerie psychiatric hospital that just makes the pause button so much more appealing. As far as antagonists go, Outlast utilises a wide variety of attributes to create fear, from a homicidal machete wielding maniac to a doctor you definitely don’t want to book a prostate exam with. It’s certainly not a game intended for children, or the faint hearted.
But does all this mean you should invest your hard earned cash into it? I mean surely you can pick up one of many horror games filled with jump scares, cliché scenery and gore galore? Let’s face it, Slenderman ticks at least two out of those three boxes - and it was originally free. Well, in short, yes! Spend your money on it. It really won’t disappoint, and not just for its horror, but also for its story. I’m not going to delve too far into that because I’d have to call spoiler alert more times than I’d care for, but between the confidential information folders you can collect as you go through the game to the messages written in blood on the walls, a large degree of time and decent content was invested into the games story, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable to play. My only one reservation about this game is that the protagonist is a bit wet. Now, I understand that Miles is a journalist and not a professional cage fighter, but if one of the machete wielding residents does catch up to you, don’t expect him to even attempt to defend himself; your only hope is that he manages to record the whole ordeal on camera before the battery (and his time) inevitably run out.