Get ready to literally have the scare of your life with Red Barrels first-person survival horror game Outlast. So turn off your lights, turn up the volume and have extra pairs of underwear nearby, because I can sure tell you this isn’t no Scooby-Doo investigation
In Outlast you play as Mile Upshur, a freelance journalist who must uncover the secrets and mysteries of the Mount Massive Asylum. You are led to Mount Massive Asylum based on an anonymous tip received from a source identified only as the ‘Whistleblower’ of inhumane experiments being performed on mentally ill patients by a company known as the Murkoff Corporation.
As you enter the Asylum, you are greeted by nothing other than dead mutilated corpses of the former staff and a dying SWAT Officer who warns you to escape while you still can. Of course you still advance through the Asylum looking for clues to help unravel the mystery of what happened there, and one must certainly think that Miles Upshur either isn’t all that bright or has a death wish!
As you progress through Outlast you bump into and run from many different disturbing, psychotic and deformed patients, especially one in particular patient named Chris Walker who Mile’s refers to in his notes as ‘a deformed giant, looks like somebody tried to f#%&-start his head with a cheese grater’. If that doesn’t paint a pretty ugly and scary picture then you’ll soon have a first-hand experience when you see this guy chasing after you and you are running down the long corridors screaming like a little girl and hiding underneath a bed hoping he doesn’t find you!
Given you are a journalist in Outlast, you are able to find and collect certain documents that just give you a little more back story and information on what happened before this outbreak of mutated looking patients roaming free around the asylum. You are also given a video camera which can b3e used to gather evidence of the events that have occurred inside the asylum plus you will rely on the night vision feature of the camera to help guide you through those dark and scary rooms filled with psychotic patients which you must avoid bumping into and meeting with a horrible death.
You also discover rather quickly that attacking is not an option what so ever in Outlast. In fact, the only possible thing that you can do to survive this nightmare is to run and hide. Whether it be a dark patch in a room or perhaps even in a locker or under a bed, survival and remaining undetected is the key to survival. Another important tip for survival in Outlast, is looking for batteries for your camcorder as night-vision drains the old battery juice pretty quick and I seriously doubt you would want to be aimlessly walking around the asylum without a single clue what way is which and who you just bumped into!
Visuals and Audio
For me the most crucial area that makes a horror game bone-chilling and scary is not only the visuals but most importantly is the audio. That calm yet alerting music peacefully playing until all of a sudden the music starts picking up, progressively getting louder and faster and with that you become audibly aware that something is coming for you and about to kill you so you better just run for your life and pray you don’t get caught! With the lights turned off and the volume increased, sound creates an incredible atmosphere that sends chills down your spine and will have you looking over your shoulder and turning the lights on at home for weeks to come.
Visually Outlast is full of bloody halls, deformed patients that are equally capable of scaring the living hell out of you on first sight. The way you used your video camera’s night vision mode to see in dark rooms just made it 10 times worse when all you see is a greenish figure with glowing green eyes that pop up all around you, staring at you in a small room.
It has been quite some time since a game has been able to have me sleeping at night with the light on and Outlast gave me the absolute creeps. I can certainly take my hat off to Red Barrels for creating such a thrilling atmosphere in Outlast and thank them for such a great horror experience by making me jump all the time and to always expect something lurking behind each door and hallway. I would definitely recommend Outlast to immediate fans of horror, thriller and asylums as well as gamers who love playing stealth based titles. Outlast manages to create a environment of fear that I haven’t felt since the days of the original Resident Evil and more recently Alan Wake. Venture forth, if you dare.