8 March 2014 | kmcloone96
Genuinely terrifying entertainment
I don't think a game has ever managed to reduce me to an anxiety- stricken wreck quite so successfully as Outlast. Within an opening text, you are told that you play as Miles Upshur; a journalist who decides to investigate Mount Massive Asylum after receiving an anonymous tip. Almost immediately things begin seeming a little strange, with stereotypical scares such as silhouettes in windows and flickering lights, but soon it appears that whatever happened at the asylum should have been left alone permanently.
As you play as a simple journalist, you traverse the entire game armed with nothing but a camcorder with a night-vision function, causing the majority of sequences to be shown through a spooky green glow. As most of the game takes place in complete darkness, you'll be using the camcorder a lot, which is difficult because the batteries drain phenomenally quickly, leaving you in terrifying nothingness. More can be collected throughout the game, but you always need to consider conserving your power so that you're not suddenly caught being chased by murderous patients with no idea as to where you should go.
And it's this sense of constant helplessness which separates Outlast from other survival-horror games. From start to finish, there is literally no way of fighting enemies, so you have to constantly be mindful of their positions and be prepared to run and hide if the need arises. But whether you hide under a bed, in a locker or even simply in a fireplace; nowhere is safe. On more than one occasion I was brutally dragged out from my hiding-place and killed on the spot. Yet I loved every minute of it.
I'm a huge fan of horror already, but Outlast dragged me in and didn't let go until the very final credits rolled. The atmosphere created within the first mere moments of game-play sticks with you until the end, and causes the scares to be even more insidious and real than they ever could have been without this incredible sense of immersion. This is also due to the amazingly creepy sound-design and the game's refusal to pull anything back, particularly when it comes to gore. It's rather rare whilst playing Outlast to not see a dismembered torso or deformed, skulking, deranged killer, but it's all necessary to create a game which is this scarily engrossing.
I have very few problems with Outlast, but the consistent need to wait for enemies to pass by certainly becomes slightly tiresome towards the end. That's not to say it's not always terrifying when you begin being chased, but after the third or fourth time of being killed, things get a little repetitive. This is particularly apparent in the cat-and-mouse sequences featuring a huge prison-guard, but it never becomes so common that it ruins the experience. Without giving anything away, the plot also wraps up completely differently to how you would expect, which I wasn't a huge fan of, but it was still entertaining nonetheless.
Outlast is a terrifying game which hooked me almost instantly. Like with most 'scary' forms of media, it has to be enjoyed properly by sitting in complete darkness with the sound up high, but if you can endure the constant barrage of horror, then it's a hugely enjoyable experience which I would definitely recommend.