Developer: Red Barrels
Release Dates: September 4th, 2013 (PC), February 4th, 2014 (Ps4)
Available on: PC, Playstation 4
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the Playstation 4. There may be differences between versions.
This game is fucking terrifying. I think that’s all I really need to say, but there’s a lot more to Outlast. It’s just that of all the games I’ve played, I can safely say that Outlast was easily the scariest (besides maybe Amnesia: The Dark Decent, but that’s a story for another time.)
Outlast puts you in the shoes of reporter Miles Upshur, who receives an anonymous tip that there’s some crazy things going down at the Mount Massive Asylum. Going to investigate, sure enough he finds various horrors, experiments, insane people, and lots and lots of blood. While an interesting premise, Outlast’s story doesn’t really seem to go anywhere for a long while, just consisting of Miles trying to get out of the asylum. Later in the game they add in some really awkward sci-fi nonsense that feels out of place. It leaves the game’s story a bit of a disheveled mess, something that’s a bit of a shame.
Miles is no fighter, and he has no way to protect himself from the inmates of the Asylum. The only thing he’s armed with is his camera, which gives him the ability to see in the dark. You need to keep your camera supplied with batteries, so you do have to do some exploring to find them. Of course, you’re not alone. There’s various people all looking to end you in various ways with tools of dismemberment and disembowelment. Without any ability to fight them all you can manage to do is hide and run, two skills you’ll really have to take advantage of. Various lockers can be hidden in and beds under, and the entire time your heart will be pounding hoping that whatever’s out there won’t find you.
Sometimes you’ll be assigned tasks, like finding fuses or shutting off sprinklers. I found these interesting as it was creepy and unsettling trying to go around and get things done just always knowing that there’s someone or something out there looking for me. The people themselves are a little unsettling at first, but after a while stop being so. Really, I found the aggressive patients scary, but even scarier were the non-aggressive ones. You just never knew what they were going to do. Pass a guy in a wheelchair one time and he’ll just watch, but the next he may leap out at you. A guy may seem docile at first, but begin hunting you down when you pick up a fuse. Another just follows you around for no reason, just staring as he does so. You never know which ones become violent and which ones don’t, so you always have to be careful around them and their behaviors.
What helps Outlast be so scary is the environments and atmosphere. Everything in the game is just oppressive. From the broken down rooms to the gory walls, every part of the environment is designed to put you further and further on edge. While Outlast only took me about four hours to beat, I was constantly shutting the game off to take a rest and remind myself that nothing is going to jump out at me for real. That’s the biggest success of Outlast too: It’s not a game that empowers you and makes you feel like an action hero in a horror game. It’s truly survival horror and that’s your main goal: survival.
If you’re looking for one of the scariest games on the market, look no further. Outlast is successful in bringing horrors in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. This is a must buy for all horror fans.