OUTLAST is a first-person survival horror video game, developed by Red Barrels /made out of the team that developed Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time/ and it is my personal favourite horror game of all times! I cannot count the amount of times I’ve nearly fallen off my chair while playing this game, but there were definitely more than a few.
This game is ranked 10/10 on Steam, and was met mostly with positive reviews from critics, and for a very good reason! It has earned several awards from E3 2013 including the “Most Likely to Make you Faint” honor /which I totally agree with/. The usual playthrough time of this game is about five to six hours, depending on the amount of times that you hide, and well… die.
Before we get into the actual gameplay, there are four standard difficulties to the game: Normal, Hard, Nightmare and Insane. While playing on regular difficulty (normal), enemies are usually less aware of your presence. With the increase of difficulty, the “door shut” sound becomes louder, the NPCs (non-player characters) become smarter and stronger, making it significantly more difficult for you to hide, while they search rooms, and requiring a lesser amount of hits for them to kill you.
To add to this, Nightmare mode limits your battery capacity /which we’ll talk about later/ to a total of 2, and in addition to all said above, Insane difficulty also provides no checkpoints, meaning that each death makes you lose all current progress, forcing you to begin from scratch.
You begin the game driving a car as Miles Upshur, a journalist, which decides to investigate the psychiatric hospital “Mount Massive Asylum”. After some trouble getting in, you soon begin to regret your decision and quickly aim to find an exit. Along your path you encounter many different homicidal patients /from the result of dream experiments/, both hostile and dormant, all of which have the same something in common – They don’t like you very much.
This is a survival horror game, which involves heavy stealth gameplay mechanics in order to survive. One of the main key factors that makes this game unique and very much like “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”, from which the developers claim they drew influence, is that you are unable to attack enemies, and you have no actual health bar. In order to survive you must refrain to running or hiding from enemies. You have the option to hide under beds and in lockers, which are placed frequently across the map, as long as no one sees you go in them. You have the option to turn around while running to see if something is still chasing you at all times.
Closing a door in the face of an enemy will slow him down for a bit, before he breaks it down, giving you time to find a good place to hide, or in other situations it simply gives you some time to brace for impact. Do note that you can only use that once, as afterwards you’re left with a doorless frame. For the bigger part of the game, you have a camcorder at your disposal, equipped with night vision, used to wander through dark spots, which are a frequent occurrence and fill up most of the map. This function is of coursed limited by batteries, only lasting a few minutes at a time, which are spread around the map, and it should be your number one priority to find as many as you can!
This way the game rewards exploration, and who knows, you might find a new hiding spot in the process /those are kind of important/. Along the way you will also find documents, labeled “CONFIDENTIAL” which help uncover the plot of the game /or at least a significant part of it/. The game also auto-saves constantly /unless you’re playing on Insane, you freak/, so don’t worry about manually saving while playing. You can dive in and get lost in the story.
The main antagonists of Outlast are called “Variants”. They are patients, who have gone psychotic due to the experiments performed on them by Nazi scientist Dr. Rudolf Wernicke. It is said that the after effects of those experiments can’t be determined, and thus the afflicted take on the name “Variants”.
All of them seem physically distorted in some way with different physical attributes, but all fall under one category – creepy. One of the reason I think this is one of the greatest horror games out there is the unpredictability of all NPCs. I can’t say I’ve ever had this situation in a Survival horror game before. Enemies generally want you dead, or they don’t want any trouble. Having a gray area in which you don’t know if you’re safe or not really establishes that you can’t afford to let your guard down.
I can safely say that in the six hours it took me to complete Outlast I’ve probably clicked the “Escape” button more times than I have in my entire life. The only downside to this game is how for a while I felt very numb playing other horror games. It just has no rival, it’s THAT good! I have replayed that game twice and I can safely say that it does NOT get easier with time. Even when you know the NPCs usual rotation they still manage to surprise you. The ending is fairly weird, but lets be honest, that’s something that horror games have struggled with for a long, long time. But don’t take my word on it – check it out yourself
OUTLAST: WHISTLEBLOWER /DLC/
OUTLAST: WHISTLEBLOWER (also known as Outlast: Story DLC) is a downloadable content for the survival horror video game Outlast.
Similar to Outlast, this DLC holds a 10/10 rating on Steam, yet again for a very good reason. People were very impressed with Whistleblower as it managed to provide information, which overthrew the previous cliffhanger ending. The usual playthrough time of this game is around 4 hours.
The game starts as a prequel to Outlast, revealing the reasons behind “Mount Massive Asylum”’s breakdown while overlapping with the main story. In this expansion you play as Waylon Park, a software engineer which choose Murkoff Corporation as the company to work for. As the company’s work developed, he became aware of their intent, and while observing the dangerous experiments people were subjected to, he started to regret his choice of signing a contract, and decided to expose Murkoff’s inhumane experiments to the world.
Waylon decides to send out an email from one of the server rooms to a journalist Miles Upshur (Which is the character you play as in Outlast). Not long after he gets ambushed in the server room, with people breaking his laptop, and injecting him with a sedative. After regaining consciousness your journey begins.
During this DLC you have yet again your typical Variants, some more dangerous, others plain disgusting, while third are both. Eddie Gluskin /The Groom/ however is the most iconic faces in Outlast: Whistleblower, and deserves his own section in this review. This is a very unsettling Variant which you stumble upon, making his first appearance in the beginning stages of the game.
He is obsessed with finding the “perfect pride” to the point where he mutilates people to make them physically acceptable to him /I really don’t want to go into more details in that matter/, which is why he’s known as The Groom. You witness his previous projects in some scenes, and it definitely doesn’t calm you down. What we know about the guy, is that he was sexually abused by his father and uncle, making him commit terrible acts of mutilation across the years, before his unavoidable hospitalization in “Mount Massive Asylum”.
Eddie Gluskin has a kind personality, and if it wasn’t for the parts where he tries to cut away your… well, parts, I’d say he’s a very charming guy. His charming personality does seem to slip away quickly after he has been rejected in any way. During several scenes, you see female corpses on the ground, which he refuses to have killed. He states that they are simply “just sleeping”. He also enjoys singing and whistling /huh, never thought about it that way/.
The DLC in my opinion is more action-filled, and has a slightly quicker pace with more things happening at once, making you constantly be aware of your surroundings. There’s really nothing negative I can say about it. It fulfills its purpose, it completes the story of the game and definitely lives up to Outlast in regards to the amount of constant fear. If you’ve played Outlast, you certainly do not wish to skip out on the DLC.