Whoa. I mean… whoa. Outlast is spooky. I can’t remember the last time I ever experienced anywhere near this much adrenaline while playing a video game. My heart beats faster around every turn; my palms grow sweatier with each passing moment. When I’m being chased, I’m fully enveloped in the action. My mind races faster than I imagined it could; “which way do I turn to get out of here?” Even though I fear booting up this game every time I sit down to play, I still can’t wait to get started each day. It’s like a bizarre addiction that I hate, yet I long for. Outlast is truly a great game so far, and even though I’m not sure I can necessarily say being scared out of my pants is “fun,” Outlast truly accomplishes the task it sets out to do.
Outlast puts you in the shoes of Miles Upshur, a journalist who takes on the stories nobody else wants to. Today, he is tasked with investigating the Mount Massive Asylum, which is run by the Murkoff Corporation. Apparently, some weird stuff is happening there, and he needs to report on it and get to the bottom of it. He pulls up to the gate with his camcorder, makes sure the night vision feature is working properly, and heads inside.
To get inside, Upshur has to climb up some scaffolding and fall through a window; the fact that there’s not legitimate entrance should be a dead giveaway that something is up, but he continues anyhow. After searching a few rooms, Miles finally walks down a hall to a dead end; to continue his trek, he must climb into the AC vent… which is dripping blood.
At that point, I knew some bad stuff was going to start happening. From there, a hanging (dead) body flew down from the ceiling in a dramatic jumpscare, a dying man impaled on a spike screamed at me and warned me to leave, and a giant, bloody, disgusting beast tried to kill me, all within five minutes. Or, it would have been in five minutes if I hadn’t paused the game, caught my breath, then quit as soon as I opened the door with the dead body. In fact, it took every fiber in my being to man up and even turn the game on to continue from that point the next day. Once I got past this initial section, however, I started getting more and more used to Outlast’s horror, and I began to play in longer sessions. 15 minutes here. Half an hour there. On Wednesday, I got so caught up in the blood-pumping, insane action that I played for over two terrifying hours in a single session!
There’s a lot that Outlast does right; it’s really spectacular. For instance, I can’t stand the notion of using jumpscares for the majority of the scares in a game. I think they come off as cheap, and they aren’t very inventive. Outlast uses jumpscare tactics just often enough, however, that they’re not overused, yet there are enough of them to keep me on my toes whenever I open a door, since I never know what will be behind it. Then, just when I think that I’m safe since I haven’t seen a jumpscare in so long, BOOM! Something freaky happens to bring back every fear that I just quelled.
I really like how Outlast is managing to spook me in so many different ways. Jumpscares? Check. Blood, gore, and mutilation? Check. Being chased by a freak? Check. Watching as a lunatic chops off my fingers? Check. I’m sure as I continue to play, I’ll find new ways to be freaked out. Most often, I’ll find that I’m scared because of somebody chasing me. Trying to elude my attacker and find a place to hide is an adrenaline rush like no other. Then, of course, while you’re playing I’m game of hide-and-seek, sometimes I win, and other times I lose… which means a swift punch or a stab, which I may or may not be able to walk away from.
The music sets the mood well, but I do have a complaint with it. Occasionally, the music becomes deafeningly loud in suspenseful moments. I mean, I understand that intensity is often linked with volume, but jeez… it does not need to get that loud. When the music isn’t destroying my hearing, however, it does a great job at intensifying the emotions I’m feeling. My other main complaint with Outlast to this point is that the character models are overused. Really, there are only a half dozen or so main character models for the patients that are used again and again throughout the game. I’ve been told by one of my readers that the game was developed by a very small team, so I suppose this lack in variety can be forgiven. I mean, when an entire asylum (both above and underground) must be mapped, everything must be textured, brilliant voice actors must be brought in, and AI must be up to par, then creating a few extra character models is the least of your worries as a developer. So I have to look at what appears to be the same guy over and over again; I can get used to it if it means the rest of the game is amazing.
This is not a full review; that will come when I finish the game. There are many aspects of Outlast that I have not yet touched on, and I will save those for the review However, to this point, Outlast is one of the most suspenseful games I’ve ever played. I keep wanting to come back for more, and it’s really helping me overcome my fear of… well, fear. As I get more and more used to Outlast’s madness, I am learning to enjoy (maybe “appreciate” is a more accurate term) the experience more. As of right now, Outlast will most likely appear on my “Best of 2014” list at the end of the year unless the rest of the year is absolutely killer.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed. Leave a like or a follow if you have, and maybe check out the LP channels in my “Links” tab.
Off To Change My Undies*
P.S. I haven’t commented much on the storyline because there’s much that still needs to be resolved, and I’m withholding judgement until this happens. Oh, and the two pictures are screenshots I took in-game. More will come in the actual review.