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“Outlast” reminds us what’s really scary

February 14, 2014

“Outlast” should be a prototype for horror games. “Outlast” was originally released as a game for PCs a few months ago, but it has recently been released for the PlayStation 4. The player plays as Miles Upshur, a freelance journalist. Upshur receives information from an anonymous source about Mount Massive Asylum, a psychiatric hospital owned and operated by a company called the Murkoff Corporation. Upon arriving to the asylum, things go from bad to downright terrifying as Upshur tries to uncover the mysteries of the asylum and escape the madness of the situation.

“Outlast” was developed by an indie game company called Red Barrels, but the graphics from “Outlast” look like they were developed by an AAA studio. The sound design is also well done; the voice acting and overall sound adds to the immersion of the gaming experience. The game creates a great atmosphere that allows the player to experience fear and discomfort even when no real threat is present. While the game does take place in unoriginal and cliché areas – asylum, basement, sewers, etc. – the setting does not detract from the experience of what is happening on screen.

The most interesting thing about this game is the gameplay mechanics. Upshur only has his camcorder with him as his only tool to help him survive the nightmare of Mount Massive Asylum. The player only has three options; hide, run, or die. The camcorder comes with a night vision setting that allows the player to see in the dark, this is an important factor when considering that most of the asylum is in complete darkness.

The darkness, while making things uneasy and creepy, provides the player some cover from the enemies that patrol the halls. If Upshur is discovered, he is able to run and hide from the enemies in dark corners or empty lockers, but beware, these enemies make sure to check some of the hiding spots before leaving. When running, Upshur is able to turn around to see his pursuer. This gameplay mechanic is done well, giving the player a chance to see what is going on as they make their escape.

The game does suffer a bit with the environment, mainly with is the poor character modeling and overuse of gore. The non-significant characters that are encountered throughout the game look exactly the same. This unfortunately breaks the sense of realism when you essentially see the same three or four people cut-and-pasted multiple times throughout the asylum. The gore is relied on too much and the game could have done better with less of it.

While the linear storyline is nothing to think twice about, “Outlast” is a unique and terrifying survival horror game. Unlike many modern horror games, especially on the consoles, it shows that the most frightening monsters are those that you can’t kill, but have to flee and hide from, all while creating an outstandingly creepy atmosphere that renderers the player helpless. There is a good blend of subtle scares mixed with jump scares that make this an excellent horror game.

Jose Aranda
Contributing Writer

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