Words by: Kieran Wade
Developer: Red Barrels
Publisher: Red Barrels/Steam
Platforms: PC/PS4 (Q1 2014)
It’s that time of the year again – Halloween, and instead of partying with friends or socialising, I’ve been stuck in playing Outlast, possibly one of scariest games within the last five or so years. Keep in mind, to get the full experience, the lights were switched off and the headset was on, it was just me and this horror of a game.
You are put in the shoes of Miles Upshur, a journalist who’s willing to cover any story what so ever – i.e. the sort of stories regular journalist won’t go near in the slightest.
It is Upshur’s mission to seek out the secrets of Mount Massive Asylum – an abandoned asylum for the mentally ill, which has recently been re-opened by the Murkoff Corporation, who are extremely secret when it comes to their activities within the building. Some of the earlier documents found in the game suggest experimental dream procedures have been taking place.
The game literally starts you outside the asylum, equipped with only your camera – the whole experience is in first-person, further putting you into the world itself. As soon as you step inside, there’s this extremely creepy atmosphere, which reminds you you’re not in for a walk in the park, rather a slow painful stroll through Hell.
Using the camera allows you to record important events, which ultimately reveal more of the narrative bit by bit, also aiding the story are documents found throughout the game, they all play a part in the mystery of Mount Massive Asylum, and are generally satisfying to read or listen to.
Night vision mode comes with the camera which makes the game one thousand times scarier – it adds this dark grainy effect, which instantly creates an unsettling atmosphere. Atmosphere keeps coming up and it’s because this game is amazing at immersing you in this intense and scary environment.
Navigating the world feels a lot like Mirror’s Edge, with the climbing of ledges, vaulting over obstacles, crawling through tight spaces – which is very useful when being chased by Goliath, an enemy that chases you throughout the game.
Speaking of being chased, when you are – it’s completely heart-stopping, most enemies are really fast, so its your job to hide in any way possible, whether it be in a locker, behind desks, or simply waiting in the dark. You can look behind you whilst running which is absolutely terrifying when you see an enemy quickly running after you.
There is absolutely no point in fighting back – you will die, I guarantee it. The amount of times Upshur got ripped apart can’t be counted at this point, so hiding in a safe place is definitely the better option.
Almost everything you do in the game is scary in some way, you actually have the option to open doors slowly which adds a huge amount of intensity, you’ll find yourself questioning – what’s around the corner? what’s through that door? and so on, and this really adds the kind of horror that makes you not want to go through a certain door, but at the same time you want to because its the only way forward.
Even the initial parts of the game demonstrate this highly illustrative world of horror, including disfigured patients who don’t look human any more, dismembered limbs dumped in the toilets, blood stained walls and floors, swarms of flies buzzing around rotting corpses, unnerving words written in blood on the walls, the list really goes on.
All in all, the game made me full-on jump 3 times during the first half an hour, so you can imagine what the rest of the game has in store. It’s definitely worth checking out, and at only £15 on Steam, it’d be silly to not get involved, especially around this time of the year.